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Any Advice for a 2nd Career in Special Ed?
Old 05-08-2007, 08:14 AM
 
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After 21 years as a legal secretary, I'm losing my job to outsourcing and planning on attending graduate school in September 2007. I want a master's degree in Special Education. I've been volunteering with sick and abused kids for three years at a hospital and a shelter. I'd really appreciate your views on Special Ed as a second career: What will a typical day of teaching be like? Will my age (54) be a plus or minus? Will I get to spend a lot of time with the kids, or will I be buried in paperwork? Are the schools generally supportive of teachers, or are they entrenched bureaucracies that will impede me? What kind of salary can I expect? Would I be better off getting another legal secretary job (at $65,000 per year) and continuing to volunteer? Please tell me about your experiences in Special Ed.


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Two points of view...
Old 05-08-2007, 09:30 AM
 
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First, if you LOVE what you do the sick and abused you might be okay...I started teaching SpEd at 40 after 10 yr as a Social Worker. My days are up and down and never boring....It can be physically exhausting keeping up with them on "manic" days.... Your age is not as important as your attitude toward life. You need a LOT of patience with this particular group of students. As for school support, as with any teaching job, it depends on the school and the Admin there...There is a lot of behind-the-scenes paperwork but it should be fairly automated for the most part and would probably seem minor compared what a legal sec usually sees. The lesson plans and "out front" stuff will depend on district policy and your own level of expectations. Are you a perfectionist...obsessive/compulsive or anal-ret...you get the picture....

BUT, on the other hand, $65,000 a year v. teacher pay?????? I make less than half that where I am. I don't know about your area there but if you are dependent on your full salary to live the way you want to live, forget about teaching! Most schools have a set pay scale set up by the BOE. It may or may not be public knowledge there but it should be available if you ask. You might ask around where you are getting your master's program as well. They generally have a fair idea what the market is like. Good Luck.
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Advice for second career
Old 07-24-2007, 06:12 PM
 
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As the previous poster mentioned, I would probably plan on starting out at about half of what you are making. If that is a deal breaker you might consider staying in your field and continuing to volunteer.

I'm 52, at 45, after 20 years in fortune 500 business I went through alternative certification to become a speced teacher. So much depends on where you are at, what the job market is like and your personal needs. I moved from Ohio to Texas to teach. When I started teaching I was a resource teacher. In Texas today there is a major transition to eliminate resource rooms and mainstream students. In a nutshell, this reduces the demand for speced teachers as less will be needed. Specialized special education teachers (deaf, ae, etc.) will always be needed. After 5 years, due to the reduction in resource teachers, I moved to the general education classroom.

I loved working with the special ed kids. The challenge was with other teachers and the administration. In my limited experience, the speced teacher is the speced students strongest, and sometimes only advocate. You must not be adversity aversive.
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In California, the trend is towards inclusion
Old 07-28-2007, 06:01 AM
 
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I think the days of the special ed teacher are numbered in California. The trend is towards bringing the special ed student into the classroom. Only the most severe special ed students would have to be in a special day class.

Besides the opportunity of being a resource teacher dwindling, we have a teacher that has a mix of students from 2nd to 6th grade as her classroom. That is difficult to figure out curriculum for, when there is such a range in the classroom. In the old days she had the primary students and another special ed teacher had the upper grade students.

Regarding becoming a teacher without having to go back to school first, here is an alternative teaching credential in Los Angeles, but it is difficult getting a job because the high mortgages and housing costs have motivated a lot of people to move from Los Angeles, and therefore the student population is decreasing.

When schools get smaller, teachers get displaced (lose their job, based on seniority of last hired, first to go). Displaced teachers will have preference to get hired elsewhere, before a new teacher. So, it is tough to get a job right now if you are starting off.

The starting pay is low, but with years of service mixed with taking classes on the side, you can get up to the $60,000 after about 7 years. That is amazing, especially if you factor in all the marvelous vacation time.

Even working as a substitute is tight right now, because displaced teachers are first-hired before new teachers. I love teaching, but you have to watch every word you say. There is a culture shock going from the business world to the teaching world.

No regrets for switching though. I teach regular school to upper elementary students.
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Old 05-04-2008, 01:55 PM
 
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This is my 8th year in special eduacation and I truly love helping my students grasp the concepts that a general education teacher would have difficulty teaching them. I have mainly taught math in small groups but over the last four years I have co-taught also. I have had some wonderful experiences and some that were just okay in that area. My main complaint is all the extra paper work and time I spend during my planning period and after school with students who need extra help. Teachers who get paid the same as I do walk out the door much earlier and/or have the time for planning much more elaborate lesson plans. I don't think the administration realizes the time I put into my work. Over the past two years I have been taking classes to get my math endorsement. In another year I will have it and will be ready to teach general ed students. I don't know if my job satisfaction will be as high but I do know I will be walking out the door much earlier.


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