Do I HAVE to get a Special Ed Degree?

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by kristina714, Nov 11, 2017.

  1. kristina714

    kristina714 New Member

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    Nov 11, 2017

    Hi everyone. So, I'm currently certified as an Elementary Education (K-6) teacher. I graduated in 2014, and I couldn't get a job in general education. I tried working in an urban area, but found it wasn't really for me. So, I ended up working as a teacher assistant at a private special ed school. The next year (this year), the principal said if I get a CE in Special Ed, she can offer me a teaching position. She also recommended that I go back to school for my special ed cert or get a masters in special ed.
    I found that I really don't like teaching special ed. I truly miss teaching general education, but I need to at least work for 2 years in order for my to obtain my Standard Certification (since I only have a CEAS in Elementary Ed).
    Some people swear that public schools will only hire you if you have your special ed degree, but I just don't want to go for Special Education at all.
    I want to try to get another job at a public school for next year, teaching general ed, and just forget about spending money (all out of pocket) for my special education endorsement. Am I making the right decision?
    I understand that in a classroom, I'll have all types of learning styles. But I just do not want to get my special ed degree because I do not want to teach special ed.
     
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  3. svassillion

    svassillion Rookie

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    Nov 11, 2017

    I think a lot of teachers have their special ed license even though they have no intention of teaching SPED. It's an excellent resume builder because even if you're applying for a gen ed classroom, the principal will know that if you should happen to have a student with an IEP or learning disability (as most gen ed teachers have), you'll know how to reach the student. It can move your resume from the bottom of the pile to the top. It really is a valuable certification to have that I would recommend to any teacher.

    In my state we need to obtain our M.Ed. by the end of our first five years of teaching. If your state is similar and you're going to have to go back to school eventually anyway, I would say absolutely go for Special Ed. The things you learn in a SPED program are just as useful for gen ed so it would only build your repertoire. A special ed degree will not limit you to SPED if you continue renewing the elementary license. I think the question to focus on is whether you feel you would want use your time in grad school to study special education or if there is something else you would prefer to learn in grad school. Just make sure whatever you choose to study in grad school is not the same as your undergrad degree (such as elementary ed). You would be very bored and wasting money on what you already know rather than learning new and useful tools for teaching.
     
  4. vickilyn

    vickilyn Maven

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    Nov 12, 2017

    OP, since you are already working in a SPED environment, and certain that you don't want to teach SPED, I am going to present the other side of the coin. If you read through the SPED threads, you will run across many that are written by SPED teachers who earned the certification, as a "foot in the door, always in need" rationale, and then bemoan the fact that the only jobs they are offered are in SPED. Some go so far as to jettison the SPED endorsement to get out of the SPED classroom. I am in NJ, and what you are describing sounds like our route to standard certificates, so I will take a wild guess that you may be in NJ, and let you know how my SPED worked.

    In NJ, if you take a job teaching SPED in the content where you have the CEAS or standard certificate (Elem. Ed., in your case), you must acquire the TOSD certification (roughly 21 credits of grad school) within about 4 years once you start course work. Until you finish the certificate requirements, you are working on a provisional TOSD certificate. Many schools will offer tuition reimbursement for the grad classes, but many private schools max out at about half of the total investment.

    Would you learn some really good teaching strategies with this education? Yes. Will it likely help you get a gen.ed. teaching job? Probably not so much. Once you have the SPED cert, you will first and foremost be viewed as a SPED teacher. If you are fine with SPED, it will help you find a job. Since it sounds like you aren't happy in SPED, I think that there may be better choices for going to grad school. Specialties like ESL and Reading Specialist would certainly make you a teacher in higher demand, but you would still be out the money from your pocket if you don't have a job that offers tuition reimbursement.

    Other considerations would be to add other content certifications that would make you more competitive in the gen. ed. market. For a K-6 teacher, that might be finding out how many credits you might need to acquire a CEAS in math or science. In NJ, your transcript can be evaluated, and for middle school specialization, grades 5-8, you need 15 credits in the subject matter to be eligible to take the Praxis for the MS Specialization cert. The advantage, for you, would be that many schools would consider that endorsement a big plus. If you are short any credits, you can often take undergrad courses at a community college or online, which is tons cheaper and less daunting. I recommend science and math since they are more often sought after, with ELA the next choice, and SS the least likely to help you get a job.

    When my son couldn't find a music teacher job out of college, we lucked out and found an inexpensive program through a major university where we could take ESL courses for very little money in a cohort - the school had received a grant. Although I know that program isn't available anymore, earning an ESL cert. is only 15 credits since you have student taught already, and it would allow you to teach all ages, but would mesh well with the K-6 cert. It might be something you want to consider, since that is only 5 courses, and it would mesh well with literacy across the board. As for my son, once he finished his ESL MED (because it was cheap enough to do), he had his choice of many jobs, and currently teaches in VA.

    I came to teaching as an AR teacher, and already had the necessary credits to teach K-6 Elem. Ed., MS Science, MS ELA, MS SS, and Biology K-12. I have also added my MED in ESL, K-12, and I have my TOSD certification, which allows me to teach SPED in any of my content areas. I started as a biology teacher, and thought I would teach MS. Turns out I ended up in HS, and now I work in a private SPED school, where my range of certs is a huge plus.

    If you decide to take the job and start taking TOSD courses, you might be lucky enough to receive tuition reimbursement for at least some of the cost, and there are many ways to acquire the courses, although the coursework must be completed at a NJ university. The downside could be that if you receive tuition reimbursement, you may obligate yourself to work for a mandatory period after receiving the financial aid (for me, 6 months). Going to school is just something I like to do, but some people think I am crazy. It's the lifelong learner thing for me. This is the first semester in a long time when I am not a student in something.

    Hopefully this will give you options you haven't considered and points out some pros and cons for various courses of action. I wish you the best of luck in your choice.
     
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2017
  5. Zelda~*

    Zelda~* Habitué

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    Nov 12, 2017

    I'm throwing this out there: Special Education in the public school setting is a lot different than teaching at all special needs school.

    But, if you're sure you don't want to teach Special Education, I wouldn't spend the money on a degree I had no intention of using.
     
  6. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Nov 12, 2017

    Do you HAVE TO? No
    Will it make you s more marketable candidate ? Yes
     
  7. TrademarkTer

    TrademarkTer Companion

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    Nov 12, 2017

    So you want to teach elementary, but you don't want to teach in an urban area, and you don't want to teach SPED? Ok, but the job search is going to be exceedingly hard for you. Just keep that in mind.
     
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  8. Ms.Holyoke

    Ms.Holyoke Comrade

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    Nov 12, 2017

    I'm student teaching now and I was considering getting a special ed degree until I learned that the district I'm student teaching in has been combining gen ed and sped positions and paying one teacher to do two jobs. This is the position my mentor is in and I definitely don't want this. This is a very large district that I hope to work in and this is apparently why they do want to hire dual certified candidates. I might consider getting an ELL certification but I am hoping to get a job with just a gen ed certification.
     
  9. TeacherNY

    TeacherNY Aficionado

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    Nov 14, 2017 at 6:35 AM

    I suggest you look into Masters programs anyway. If not for special ed then something else that will lead to getting additional certification. Having multiple certifications even if not sped is a good idea.
     
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  10. Leaborb192

    Leaborb192 Connoisseur

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    Nov 14, 2017 at 9:50 AM

    *CAN be a good idea! Depending on the district as they may not want to have to pay you $$$$ out of the gate: just something to keep in mind. They want it all for nothing. They'll only really pay you if they have to and are desperate! This is why you see districts offering stipends and/or other incentives to teach in those hard to fill areas... they NEED people! Gen ed elementary isn't an area where schools are desperate unless it's a place where nobody wants to teach anyway. And even if you got more experience teaching elsewhere hoping it'll land you where you WANT to be, that could also be used against you because why hire you when they can hire somebody fresh and cheap?
    I would suggest if you're serious about teaching in gen ed elementary: try to find SOME way to get some "shortage area'' cert where there's a real need; get a job doing THAT and then you could easily transfer within the school itself when a more desirable position opened up.
    For example: by May 2018 I *SHOULD* have three certs in: elementary ed, literacy and Spanish. Well... I'm running into the problem that elementary ed is flooded with candidates so they can be picky, but I will / should have literacy and Spanish to fall back on as a way into a a district that I wouldn't otherwise have.
    The more marketable you can make yourself, the better. Unless you're bff's with the people who make the decisions and then they just end up hiring you anyway whether you're qualified or not. :roll:
     
  11. Leaborb192

    Leaborb192 Connoisseur

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    Nov 14, 2017 at 9:58 AM

    Or literacy! Because the knowledge definitely helps enhance instruction in the gen ed classroom; in fact they should have more dual programs and knock them all out at the same time. But you have to kind of know what you want to teach and where... for example: having a TESOL cert would be more beneficial in certain places than others (in my hometown we have like a handful of ELLS but no real need for an ESL teacher so having the cert is kind of pointless.) But there are SPED kids and struggling readers EVERYWHERE in ALL classrooms so both are certs that are universal! My friend's bf (who is now interning as a principal) was a history ed guy, but couldn't find a steady job, so basically interviewed for a SPED position and said, "Look here's what I'll do to get certified'' and they hired him. Now he's working on his admin degree.
    And I'm assuming you're in NY as it's one of the only states that I know that requires the BS to have a Master's degree in 5 years, if at all. I just want to say I'm now in year 2 of a reading specialist program and I haven't really learned anything nor do I feel like a "better, more prepared teacher'' as a result. It's all to get the paper (let's be realistic,) and to say "I'm certified to fill a role.'' But I'm finding some districts -- depending on where you are-- are basically just hiring whomever anyway which makes working to get certified kind of pointless doesn't it? I know so many people who are teaching SPED right now and when I ask them if they're certified they just laugh and say "Nope,'' but the school was desperate. It's a sad reality. I would say it definitely would make you more marketable and you echo the fact that you DON'T have to stay in the job if you don't like it! You could use it as a stepping stone to something you want. It's horrible to say, but it's also a reality.
    :(
     

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