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firstyearwoes firstyearwoes is offline
 
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firstyearwoes
 
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Sped or Gen Ed?
Old 02-08-2017, 08:54 PM
 
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Hi everyone,

I am a first year teacher and I am certified in Gen. Ed and Sped. I am currently teaching 5th grade gen. ed. I would describe my first year as challenging. There are a lot ups and downs, days I didn't think I would get through, and days that I just want to scream or cry. Point is, I really want to find my place within the teaching profession. I student taught in second grade and I enjoyed that. I've worked with smaller groups in Sped and I enjoyed that as well. I want to ask anyone that has made the switch between gen. ed to sped or vice versa. Which did you enjoy more? They both present challenges, but I want to be able enjoy being a teacher. I just know that maybe it's my district, the grade, or a bad first year experience that has made me not enjoy teaching as much. Any advice or experience stories would be appreciated.

Thank you!


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mauiwow mauiwow is offline
 
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mauiwow
 
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Gen ed.
Old 02-11-2017, 01:22 PM
 
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Personally I think it takes a great deal of patience to work with sped group. You gotta really know how to get though with the students. Each has its own challenges but I prefer gen. ed. But then again I do not teach in elementary school so it may depend on what grade level you teach as well.
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Haley23 Haley23 is offline
 
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Haley23
 
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Old 02-11-2017, 02:00 PM
 
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I have done both and I would personally choose gen ed, especially with the way things are going in sped (I'm currently teaching sped). In my area pretty much everyone is going to "full inclusion" unless you teach kids with severe/profound disabilities. I currently do small group pull outs and enjoy that, but I think this is the last year my job will look like this. Everyone around us has already gone to push-in/"co-teaching" and my school was the last holdout among the others in our district because my P supported pull outs, but she was non-renewed (and I'm sure part of that was due to her not getting behind the "full inclusion" thing). I have seen many, many "co-teaching" set ups and the sped teacher is pretty much always a glorified aide. You walk around and help manage behavior and help kids who raise their hand while the gen ed teacher teaches. In the absolute best case scenario, during guided group times you can pull your own group to the back of the room, usually sitting on the floor or in student desks because the gen ed teacher gets the actual small group table. You're limited in the activities you can do during this small group time because you have to be quiet, and your materials are limited to either what the gen ed teacher will grace to you or what you can carry around on a cart. If you still have small groups/pull outs in sped where you're teaching, I would expect that to last for long.

In addition to this, there is a lot of "accountability" talk coming from the political realm about how kids with disabilities are "underperforming." My state has made it very clear that unless kids have a cognitive disability, they can and should be performing at grade level. Since we have to show that kids are both performing significantly below average and not responding to interventions given in order to get them into sped in the first place, this is an impossible task. If by some miracle they do start performing at grade level, they no longer qualify for sped and are exited, and therefore no longer "count" for you as a student with a disability who is passing state tests/performing at grade level.

I would truly never recommend that anyone go into sped. It's also very hard to go back if you do go into sped. There is a severe shortage of sped teachers in my state (wonder why that is?) and I know that many other places are the same. If you're good in sped they want to keep you there because it's hard to find a replacement. If you're not good in sped, that's certainly not going to make them want to give you a shot in gen ed when they have hundreds of quality applicants.
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newbie17 newbie17 is offline
 
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newbie17
 
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Run from sped!!
Old 03-25-2017, 01:38 PM
 
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Haley23 hit the nail on the head! I'm currently a first year sped teacher in a moderate to profound room and I hate it. Like you I'm also certified for gen ed and I'm doing everything in my power to get into a gen ed room. Unfortunately, I'm (apparently) amazing at my job. Other teachers tell me they've never seen my class do the things they're doing now, which means I don't have much of a chance of getting out. Don't get into sped just to see if you might like it, you will be trapped!! Give gen ed another year, talk to your coworkers to get ideas to make things better, or maybe try for a different grade level next year. Also I spend more time testing than I do teaching. We have report cards (like everyone else) but we also have progress monitoring where we have to test each child on each goal and see how much progress they have made. This happens every nine weeks. Do you know how much time that takes? A lot. Another thing is the paperwork. If you're having a behavior issue you can't just have a quick meeting with a parent. No, you have to set up a sped conference and do 5 pages of paperwork because you *might* have to put a child on a behavior plan. Guess what the behavior plan entails? Yep, more paperwork. I swear, a kid can't sneeze in my classroom without me having to fill out a form for it. I'm sure I could go on but I hope you get the point. Try different grade levels, and if nothing works then try sped, but it's a whole other world from what you're used to. Good luck!
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