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Special Area Teacher Speaking Up
Old 11-09-2018, 08:03 PM
 
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My colleague (a classroom teacher)/ work friend always gets in little digs about how challenging her job is compared to mine and how I don't have to deal with this/that. Another colleague looks down her nose at me.

I'm a Special Area Teacher.

I...
Deal with 325 students.
Teach all different grades in the same day.
Have 35 minutes, once or twice a week, to give students THE Most Enthralling, Engaging, High Octane Learning Experience.
Do SGOs and PDPs.
Do detailed Lesson Plans.
Contact parents.
Nurture.
Facilitate many afterschool programs.
Help all the staff.
Am responsible for this room full of books.
Write applications for grants and awards.
And Much More.

I LOVE My Job.
I Am a Teacher.

Wish Teachers would stop thinking "my yard is greener" than theirs.

My job is easier for me these days because I have more years of experience. I'm making my students more responsible for doing all the work and they're taking the reins.

Indeed, I am working way smarter, not harder.


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Old 11-09-2018, 08:14 PM
 
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I remember how hurt I was when a friend said the same to me. They don't think beyond their 30 students and the lesson plans they need to do for 1 classroom. Forget that we special teachers get all the challenges in the school, a high number of students a day, we need to do lesson plans for each grade we meet with and still have to deal with inputting grades [in some specials areas].

Keep your head high and just listen to their smack, its obvious they don't realize all that you must do. Some classroom teachers could never do the job of a specials teacher.
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Changed from classroom to library
Old 11-09-2018, 08:42 PM
 
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And I have to admit, it's soooo much easier.

Harder: I have to learn all 280 names.
Harder: It's harder to build relationships.
Harder: I don't know the children as well.
Harder: I need to communicate with lots of other teachers who may or may not respect what I do.
Harder: I'm expected to be on every committee because I'm not confined to one classroom.
Harder: I need to understand the learning needs and curriculum of multiple grade levels at one time, not just one.


Easier: I don't write 5 social studies plans, 5 science plans, 5 math plans (and plan and prepare for small group rotations, 5 shared reading plans, 15 small group reading plans, and 5 writing plans per week (40 plans). I write 4 plans per week (1 PK plan, 1 K plan, 1 First Grade plan, and one 2nd grade plan.)

Easier: I don't have to do grades or grade papers.

Easier: I have time to go to the bathroom mostly when I need to.

Easier: My calls to parents are less.

Easier: I only have to struggle with some of the little darlings for 45 minutes a week.

Different: Instead of grading papers, I shelve books, curate a book collection, inventory, weed, check in and out books, repair books, promote reading school-wide, etc.

Frankly, I chose to switch from 3rd grade teacher to media specialist to make my life easier in the ways I wanted them easier, and I was willing to make my life harder in other areas in order to accomplish that. I liked being a classroom teacher and I like being a teacher librarian. You're friends may be noticing the areas where the specialists haev it easier and not noting the areas where we have it harder.
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Old 11-10-2018, 03:28 AM
 
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My DH moved from math to computers, and we both joke about how easy he has it now. Of course, we are only doing that to each other and truly joking. Each job was difficult in some ways and easier in some ways.

Iíd never do that to someone at work.
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Old 11-10-2018, 05:19 AM
 
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My favorite is when people think teaching K is easy: "They're so cute! Coloring and singing all day must be so fun! And you have a FT aide."

Uh huh. Whatevs. All teaching jobs are hard...they're just hard in different ways.


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Old 11-10-2018, 05:34 AM
 
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Yes, all of the different jobs in a school have their ups and downs, but they have different stresses. It is often hard to see the other side of things.

I was an aide and then a school librarian in the past. The reality for me was that my jobs as an aide and librarian were so much less stress than being a classroom teacher.


As a librarian I had to prep 6 lessons a week - one lesson for each grade level, and then she teaches that lesson to each class in a grade. It is the same with our music, art, and physical education teachers.

Yes, I did have other responsibilities as well.

Yes, they do need to get to know a greater number of students.

However, classroom teachers have to:
Quote:
Provide engaging, High Octane Learning Experience.
Do SGOs and PDPs.
Do detailed Lesson Plans.
Contact parents.
Nurture.
Facilitate many after school programs.
Help all the staff.
Am responsible for this room full of books.
Write applications for grants and awards.
I also have to prepare daily:
*Whole group reading lesson
*4 literacy centers
* 5 reading groups on different reading levels (from 1st grade reading level to 6th grade reading level)
*Whole group math lesson
*4 math centers
* 4 math group lessons (again, based on math levels from 1st grade to 6th grade) and a back up plan for this if my aide is pulled for the morning!
* Vocabulary lesson
* Grammar lesson
* Writing lesson
*Science or social studies lesson

There is also the documentation for RTI that needs to be completed in addition to the report cards, parent teacher conferences, the IEP meetings, and the RTI meetings.

As a classroom teacher I also have to deal with social issues that I did not have to deal with in my other roles. The daily recess drama is brutal! Also, because I am with these kids so many hours a day, I deal with family issues on a whole different level.

I also have the added weight of being a testing grade teacher. My teaching ability is judged by the scores that my students earn on standardized tests.

I would never say to a colleague that they have it better than I do. We are all in this together. We all have different roles that come together for the benefit of the students.

If it bothers you, you should say something to them about that. They may not be meaning it the way you are taking it, but merely venting about the situation they are in.

Last edited by choppie70; 11-10-2018 at 06:53 AM..
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Oh, and about Kindergarten
Old 11-10-2018, 06:05 AM
 
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...don't even get me started. That's teaching on an exhausting level. Oh my heck! I've definitely been working on upping my Kindergarten game these past few weeks.
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I hear you!
Old 11-10-2018, 06:11 AM
 
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Art.

Everyone thought I did "crafts". (Internally screaming)

Nursing is the same way. Everyone does eye rolls if you work pediatrics, NICU, L/D, physical rehab, psych.... Oh it must be so nice play with babies all day. No stress. Lol...

Interestingly, no one wanted to sub for my easy peasey class, or crabbed how hard it was.

Every job has the rough and smooth.
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Grass is always greener...
Old 11-10-2018, 06:14 AM
 
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I was a classroom teacher. A friend who taught 4th grade recently moved to math specialist. She said it is SO much easier. Less planning, less drama, less parents, etc. That being said, I did love the relationships that developed with my students and their parents. It was probably more time consuming, but the rewards were greater for me. Did I occasionally wish to be a specialist? Yup!
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Old 11-10-2018, 06:42 AM
 
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I agree with Choppie. Specialists (in my district Librarians, especially as they do not give grades) jobs have their challenges, but most of them classroom teachers also have, in addition to many more.

The reality is that if a classroom teacher really wanted to, they could most likely move to a special position with a tiny bit of work. I could take a test to move to several, but I like the classroom, even given all of its hardships and trials.

We have had several SPED teachers (and a regular classroom teacher) get their license updated to show a special area and have moved into things like Art and Drama. They are much happier now - the stress of a classroom was too much after a while. Sad to see them go as they were awesome teachers. I considered it myself, but ultimately enjoy my job and location more than making the move.


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Old 11-10-2018, 06:47 AM
 
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It's an interesting conversation. I am a classroom teacher and never considered some of the points mentioned (although I would never suggest that anyone's job is easier than my own- that's rude). I definitely learned some things reading this.
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Old 11-10-2018, 07:13 AM
 
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Quote:
My favorite is when people think teaching K is easy: "They're so cute! Coloring and singing all day must be so fun! And you have a FT aide."
Oh, heck no . . .

Kindergarten kids terrify me. I subbed two days for kindergarten more than 25 years ago, and I'm still not over it. I had those same kids in 7th grade, and they remembered me.

I love middle school, which is something most people avoid like the plague.
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Old 11-10-2018, 07:21 AM
 
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Quote:
Kindergarten kids terrify me. I subbed two days for kindergarten more than 25 years ago, and I'm still not over it. I had those same kids in 7th grade, and they remembered me.

I love middle school, which is something most people avoid like the plague.
I feel the same about MS as you do about K. Thank goodness we each found our niche. <3
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Kindergarten
Old 11-10-2018, 07:24 AM
 
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Is tough! I used to be a kinder aide. While I loved my job, it was very hard. You always had to be ON. In addition to that, not only do you have to show them how to do everything, you have to be over prepared.
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Old 11-10-2018, 07:32 AM
 
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Quote:
You always had to be ON.
Yep...but, student hours are it for me. Nothing to take home and grade, no scores to post to online grade books, etc.

Pros and cons to all positions/grade levels!
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Comparing to Others
Old 11-10-2018, 01:54 PM
 
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I am definitely guilty of comparing my own situation to others, and this year itís causing me to throw myself little pity parties constantly. But I cannot stand it when other teachers make comments assuming that there are all of these perks to your job.

This year for the first time I am splitting my time between the HS and MS. Because of this, I get a period to travel between the 2 buildings which are 15 min away from each other. You would not believe how many people have expressed jealousy to me that my duty is to travel and I probably squeeze an extra 30 minutes of free time out of that. In reality, between closing up my classes at the HS, packing up and checking out, checking into the second school and getting ready to go, I maybe have 5-10 minutes of ďextraĒ time.

Meanwhile, I am living in the worst-of-both-worlds of being an academic teacher at one school and an exploratory teacher at the other. I teach 6 periods of 4 different classes that are all new preps for me (and the HS courses have new books and new curriculum) and my only prep period is lost almost every day to cover for teachers who are out. I will have 360 kids this year. The over 300 at the MS will each submit over 20 projects to me for grading. One of my 2 HS courses is a tested subject, adding stress. And I have to juggle the emails and requests and meetings that come from the principals at each of the buildings.

All this, and all people can see is how easy my job must be, because they only see the part that is at their school, and they donít care to think about how that is only half of it.

I think in reality almost every single one of us is dealing with a crazy workload exasperated by silly demands from admin. I know that I need to stop the comparisons, and I wish others would too.
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Old 11-10-2018, 09:29 PM
 
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I spent most of my career teaching band with an outside service which is a little different. However, I did spend a couple of years teaching general music and there were some who thought that the kids just sing and have fun.

I donít think I could ever be a regular classroom teacher and think that there would be much more stress doing that. However, it was always hard to develop a rapport with the students when I saw over 200 of them and for only a short time each week instead of several hours daily.

Also, though not having to speficially grade things made life easier, I had nothing to hold over them as far as motivating them to do their best.

The young children were the easiest to teach because they still wanted to please their teachers. Grades 5-8 were very difficult because they mostly hated general music and singing and anything else having to do with it
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Old 11-10-2018, 10:03 PM
 
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My mom taught art, music, Kindergarten, and 5th grade over her teaching career and said that being a specials teacher was by far the most difficult. She felt it was much harder to get the kids to listen- you don't have them for enough time to build the relationship that a classroom teacher has, many of the kids see art/music as "not important" and it was difficult to enforce any consequences in that setting. She also didn't like having to adjust her teaching style/management/personality etc. all day long for different grade levels vs. having the same age all day. 5th grade was her absolute favorite position.

I think many teachers are very stressed and that causes them to constantly look for a situation where it seems the grass may be greener. There are pros and cons to every position. My somewhat cynical view of teaching is that it's about finding what annoys you the least. For example, I find the hand holding that my primary students require to be less obnoxious than the attitudes of older students.
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Old 11-11-2018, 08:25 AM
 
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I also used to get that in Kinder and Pre-k.

News flash, I was not just playing. It was not daycare.

I had lesson plans for all subjects just like everyone else. I had student growth outcomes, with all the documentation. I had assessments, and mine were one to one and I didn't get any extra help for that. I was expected to personalize my lesson plan to show differentiation. Not only did I have to turn in my lesson plans before the first of the month, but I also had to turn in lesson reflections after the end of the month. I still had parent teacher conferences.

I also had observation records, running records, and portfolios that I had to keep . Data, Data, data!

I was also often the first point of contact for many parents with school or leaving the home. I had seriously difficult parents to deal with. People would go crazy at the idea that I wouldn't personally wipe their child, or that I tried to teach them to put on their own coats in the beginning of the year rather than try to put them all on myself. You would have though I suggesting flaying their babies alive.

I was also the very often the first person to talk with them about the possibility that their child may have a developmental disability/delay. It amazed me how so many kids can be 4-5-6 years old and no one seems to have noticed that this kid clearly has autism, or severe apraxia, or severe emotional or behavioral disorder. This shocked me at first and I kept thinking dont these kids go to the doctor? How could this be going unnoticed.

I was most certainly not just playing all day
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Old 11-11-2018, 12:10 PM
 
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Iíve always thought the related arts are important. However, in my school we have too many of those teachers. At any given time of the day, no matter what grade level is at specials, there are 3 of them not busy because there are 8 of them and only 5 of any grade level. So they have 3 40 minute planning periods every day. They donít have state test pressure, they donít give quarterly assessments or have to analyze the data that goes a long with it, and they are not mandated to meet as a group twice a week like the rest of the school. They have no additional jobs during their extra planning periods. I see them daily chatting and having coffee during times that are not their official planning time. Whenever misbehavior occurs during their classes, they donít deal with it. They send a note to us, expecting us to talk to the kid and design and implement the consequence. They have the kids ready to go long before their class period is over, but lock their door and wonít let a class in if they are 1 minute early. Needless to say, there is a lot of resentment, not towards the people themselves, but to how the positions are utilized.
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Old 11-12-2018, 06:13 AM
 
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Where in the world is this and can I come? I promise to always let them in when they're a few minutes early! haha

My district is not so great. There are a lot of behavior issues and I'm floundering this year. And there are a lot of extra duties. Friday came around and I was in bed by 8 and ended up sleeping 11 hours straight because I was so wiped from everything in the week. I'm an arts teacher and totally understand that other subjects go before me in the pecking order because of state testing and graduation requirements, but it is by no means easy like everyone thinks it is.
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Old 11-16-2018, 02:43 PM
 
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That was very enlightening, PE. Thanks for posting. :-)
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Old 11-22-2018, 11:29 PM
 
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Teaching Kdg is easily has to top the stupidest thing I've heard. There's not enough money in the world for me to teach that grade. Most teachers know what their getting from year to year.

Art and PE teachers have to be very organized. I know of a district where specials are 30-35 minutes and that is challenging when you have to change grades.

I worked in a district where the lowest ones on the totem pole were music teachers. Some did not have classrooms. We had teachers who liked to pick on PE and Music teachers. If there was a holiday teachers thought music teachers should make it up by doubling classes. That's really unprofessional that you get a plan while they doubled up kids. This was against district policy.
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