Regular Ed. Vs. Special Ed. - ProTeacher Community





Shorti_0629
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Regular Ed. Vs. Special Ed.
Old 08-15-2009, 02:26 PM
 
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I am a regular education teacher who is debating whether or not I want to get my special ed. endorsement and become a special ed. teacher. What is it like being a special ed. teacher? What are the pros and cons?


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Barclay Barclay is offline
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Set your priorities
Old 08-15-2009, 02:31 PM
 
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I did not realize how much of teaching was turned over to the assistants in SPED...
You will spend a great deal of your time with paperwork rather than kids.....
Most SPED teachers are isolated within thier schools, and the politics are killer.
On the positive, the kids are wonderful, and you can really see the impact you can have.
Good luck.
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Being a special education teacher
Old 08-15-2009, 03:22 PM
 
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First all sped teachers in my state are also endorsed in general education. It is probably the same else where. I discovered my preference for special education when I was student teaching. I was invited to participate in a program that trained for inclusion. What I discovered was that I enjoyed working with a smaller group of students much more than a large group. There is a lot of paperwork, but I am usually not overwhelmed. It tends to come in cycles that are fairly predictable. I definitely still teach, and do all the prep and planning for my assistants. Some special education teachers have assistants, and sometimes it can be challenging to build an effective work relationship with them. I am extremely fortunate with my assistants. As a special education teacher we have to understand how to correctly do all the paperwork and do it on time; I have to coordinate IEP meetings. A pro for that is working together and building positive (hopefully, usually) relationships with parents and the rest of the team. The con is it can be challenging to get everyone together at some schools, however, you absolutely have to send the annual IEP in on time, or the district will get a big fat fine for being out of compliance. I don't know if this is a pro or con, but it is definitely a challenge to be familiar enough with all grade levels of curriculum in all subjects to teach them, plus know how to supplement and do specially designed instruction. Substitute teaching gave me great exposure to many curriculum, and you will already have a good basis as a general education teacher. You will also have to learn how to teach life skills, social skills, adaptive skills, organization/study skills....
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Old 08-15-2009, 05:31 PM
 
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I truly believe it is how the school operates that determines the job of a sped teacher.
I use to be a sped teacher and did not like it b/c I worked with a bunch of incompetent people who made me look bad. I would tell them when we had evals and they wouldn't get them done on time, the parents would come to the meeting and we couldn't proceed. I also worked with one that thought she should be in charge and since she took three hour lunches there was no way she could be, but she made my life hell and was totally out of compliance.
That being said, working with the children was fabulous and I loved them. Sometimes I was their only advocate and the only person who seemed to care. You know the teachers who tell you to get them out of your classroom.
Then I worked in an autistic classroom and I loved that. It was great because it was my own classroom. When we moved to a new state, that job did not exist so I switched to kindergarten and now first. I do get a lot of kids with special needs, though. I love having them in my class.
I do think sometimes sped teachers are treated like second class citizens and take a lot of heat. Also, kids don't progress as quickly as we'd like them to and you need to be really patient and positive.
Also, caseload and needs vary school to school state to state. I know in my old school our sped teacher had 36 kids on her caseload K-5 and some had significant cognitive and/or behavioral needs as well as autistic and then learning disabilities. I think that is a lot for one teacher.
Good luck with your decision and go with your heart. You really need to decide whether you want to work with that population or not. They only deserve the best and most dedicated.
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spe ed vs reg ed
Old 08-15-2009, 06:45 PM
 
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what a delimna; do you love regular ed??? if so stick with it...Special ed is extremely different--from the outside it looks easy, but in reality I spend more time that the regular ed teachers in planning ( I usually do 3- 4 plans per student) instead of the usual 4-5. If you decide to do special ed you really need to have the desire. Like many others I am also dually certified. What ever your choose you must realize that it is the right decision for you at the time and besides you can always return to regular ed.


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I love my job
Old 08-16-2009, 09:33 AM
 
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I have taught special education for six years (working on my masters in special education) and I absolutely love my job. I don't know if I would ever change fields. I love the kiddos. They are wonderful. They have their days, but don't we all. As for the paper work I believe that it is probably no worse that regular ed. just different. More time consuming at different times. Go with your heart. We always need good special education teaching with caring hearts that love the kiddos. Good luck with your decision.
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newspedteach newspedteach is offline
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love my job too
Old 08-16-2009, 10:01 AM
 
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and I echo most of these sentiments...

A word of caution about the paperwork. I'm about to begin my 3rd year, but my teammates who have been in special ed. for many years tell me that the paperwork expectations have increased immensely through the years. It increased last year compared to the year before and I expect the same this year. When it's not increasing, it CHANGES all the time and software is always changing.

Also, the amount of paperwork is VERY DIFFERENT for each type of program. For example, a life skills teacher may have 3-8 students (give or take) and will only have to complete that many IEP's each year. Of course, there is endless documentation for all sped teachers, so that will add to the load. I have had as many as 30 on my caseload, so that many IEP's, plus I teach primary and we get all the referrals...that means academic testing for all those children for me, as well as hours of report writing and observaton time, whether the child qualifies or not. The teacher previously in my position left the position because of the amt. of paperwork and went to lifeskills, where she had less because of the caseload...but there are other problems w/lifeskills....you just have to know which program you are best in and which best fits you....I happen to be a better fit for mild/moderate.

I was also SHOCKED at amount of meetings I am expected to attend. I strongly disagree that it is the same amount of paperwork a gen. ed. teacher has, even though they have a lot...my gen. ed. staff is constantly asking me how I do it and I have garnered a lot of respect from them....I get along very well with them and have had no nightmare stories like you sometimes hear about.


Someone in a post above said that aides do a great deal of the teaching. This is a problem in special ed...if you are lucky enough to have IA's, they do have to step in and do more than 'help out' in the classroom, a little different than in gen. ed. BUT, I strongly believe that the sped. teacher needs to do the vast majority of teaching and if that isn't happening, it is a problem. I choose to do my paperwork early in the a.m. and in the afternoon when my students aren't present. I also sometimes have to complete things on the weekends. Is this ideal? NO, but I became a teacher to teach and my IA's are in no way qualified to do my job. I have to plan out every minute for them as well. I find myself coming in at least 2 or 3 out of 4 Saturday a.m.'s a month. I'm not burned out yet, but sometimes I find myself thinking about my job too much when I should be home relaxing or with my family. I love my job, but can be a bit obsessive about it, , but I am still new and trying to figure things out, so maybe it gets better/easier .....good luck with your decision.
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