advice, trying to get into teaching sped!

Discussion in 'Special Education' started by pommom, Mar 29, 2018.

  1. pommom

    pommom Comrade

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    Mar 29, 2018

    Hello,
    I am currently close to finishing my second year of teaching. I have been a general education teacher both years of teaching. My first year at a private school did not provide sped services. The only thing they allowed was giving kids opportunities to take a quiz or test in a different room if needed.
    My current position at a public school is the closest to having sped experience. I have followed IEPS and sat in on a few 504 meetings (I know 504 is not classified as sped though).

    Anyways, I am certified in all grade levels of sped. I always hear sped is a high needs area, but I have not been able to land a sped position in two years after many sped interviews; I have only been offered general education positions.
    My private school principal and mentor wrote me recommendation letters stating that I would be a great fit as a special education teacher because I am able to connect well with low performing students and students with behavior issues. I do not think any of the principals even bothered to read them because the letters were pretty long.

    Hopefully this coming school year, I can get my foot in the door to a sped teaching position. I would love to have a co-teach or a resource position.
     
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  3. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    Mar 29, 2018

    How many schools are you applying to? How did your sped interviews go? Maybe you need to brush up on some material to help them see past your lack of sped-specific experience.

    Just curious... Why do you want to switch to sped?
     
  4. pommom

    pommom Comrade

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    Mar 29, 2018

    I want to teach sped because I believe that my strengths are being able to help students that are struggling the most. I work well in small groups. I am able to teach direct instruction and go at a slower pace.
    For the past 2 years, I have applied everywhere, and I have applied to more sped positions than general ed positions. I do receive sped interviews, but have not received offers.
    I know for a fact it is the lack of sped experience, and I am not selling my self enough in interviews to prove to them that I can and want to take on the challenge.

    I saw on a another post that you were going to be on an interview panel coming up. Have you been on one before? Can you let me know what sped questions that your school asks? I tried looking on this website for just sped related interview questions.

    Thanks
     
  5. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    Mar 29, 2018

    I was on a sped interview panel a few years back, but it has been so long that I cannot remember our exact questions, and I don't have access to them. However, I'll share with you what I can remember...

    - We asked a question about knowledge of various tests (like the WISC, WJ-III, etc.) because, at our school, sped teachers were required to explain the results of these tests to parents in evaluation meetings and also use those test results to write the IEP.
    - We asked a question about a candidate's knowledge of the special education referral and evaluation process. This was to make sure that they were familiar with the legal timeline and all of the paperwork involved.
    - We asked situational questions that allowed us to know how a sped teacher would deal with a) student misbehavior, b) a para who did not do what they were supposed to do - either due to lack of knowledge/skills or simply because they were defiant, c) collaborating with a "needy" gen. ed. teacher, and d) a student who felt stupid or otherwise down on themselves.
    - Our SLP always asked about the candidate's knowledge of PECS or non-verbal communication systems.
    - We asked questions about how a candidate would collect and organize data in the classroom - both resource and inclusion.

    That's all that I can remember off of the top of my head. Hope that helps!

    Based on what you've said, it sounds like you need to let them in on all that you know. Even though you don't have sped experience, naming specific programs, techniques, assessments, etc., might give them a better idea of your knowledge. Sometimes I find that beginning teachers with limited or no experience keep their answers very broad and general because they don't feel that they know a lot of specifics and they want to show flexibility and an openness to new ideas. However, the more specifics you give, the better picture you'll leave in the interviewers' minds. When they can't get a good mental image of what you would be like in their school, it's hard for them to select you as their choice, but, when you really stand out in a positive way, they'll likely want to hire you, even if they know that they have a few things on which they'll need to train you.
     
    Last edited: Mar 29, 2018
  6. pommom

    pommom Comrade

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    Thanks, I wrote those questions down and will write my answers. Those are some pretty tough questions.
     
  7. Been There

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    Mar 29, 2018

    Hello pommom! Did you actually do student teaching in a special ed. program? Bella84 gave a very comprehensive response with a lot for you to think about. Like she said, the questions are more likely to be highly specific rather than general in nature. For example: What academic assessment instruments have you administered and which ones would you use to assess reading proficiency? How would you interpret this printout (provided) showing the statistical assessment results for a student? What special accommodations in language arts might you need to make for an individual with ASD? What is the most challenging special ed. student that you've encountered and how did you help him/her to achieve academic success? What experience have you had with individuals with communicative disorders? How can you differentiate between a behavioral problem and a learning problem for a student in your class?

    You can take almost any post on this forum from a teacher who is wrestling with a seemingly impossible situation and use it to practice your interview responses. You can also do a search on the internet for special education interview questions.
     
    Last edited: Mar 29, 2018
  8. teacherintexas

    teacherintexas Maven

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    Can you ask your sped teacher if he/she would let you observe him/her prepping for an ARD for one of your students? I’ve not been on a panel for a sped position and I’m not certified myself, but if asked questions for things you’ve not done before, it would make a good impression if you said specifically what you would do. The paperwork is a killer, so having a plan for that would be good.
     
  9. waterfall

    waterfall Virtuoso

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    We've had high turnover in our intermediate sped position, so I've sat in on interviews almost every year. The number one "complaint" I have with candidates is that they're not specific enough in their answers. Like a pp said, most of them answer the question in a very broad way that gives us no clue if they actually no what they're doing or not. For example, we ask a question about developing tier 2 and tier 3 behavior plans. We're looking for an actual specific example of what your plan would look like. Many candidates simply talk about their own classroom management for that question rather than showing an understanding of writing actual behavior plans. Don't ramble- but give one, specific, concrete example for every question you're asked.

    Another common problem is that candidates don't tailor their answers to the specific position they're applying for. We do have many questions that start with something like, "Talk about your experience with..." but to answer those questions well, you need to make sure you're selling yourself for the position you're applying for, not for some totally different position you hold now. For example, we had a couple of teachers coming from severe needs/self-contained interviewing for our resource position. When we asked about reading, they'd literally be talking about things like tube feedings. Fair enough, that may happen in their reading block now...but has nothing to do with the position they're interviewing for.

    The other issue with going from one area to another is that you need to make it abundantly clear in your interview that you really want to teach sped. They may see your gen ed experience and feel that you really want to teach that and are just interviewing for sped because you need a job, and may leave the very next year if you can find something in gen ed. We also wondered that about our candidates coming from different areas- for example, did they really want to leave self-contained for resource, or high school for elementary?

    Most interviews I've been on start with some sort of "tell us about yourself" question. That would be a great spot to say something about how excited you are about the possibility of teaching sped and that you've always wanted a sped position.
     
  10. Been There

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    I fully agree! Whenever possible, responses should be tailored to the position in question.
     
  11. pommom

    pommom Comrade

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    I would love to tailor to the specific job that I am applying to. Interviews have never came easy to me, and it takes a lot out of me mentally with high anxiety. That tier 2 to tier 3 question, I would not know how to answer, so I would have said something along the lines of how I keep organized specific data for each student. I know what works and what doesn't work for each student by getting to know them. A vague answer is better than "I don't know".
    It is not easy having to come up with the "best" answer, think quickly on the spot to random teaching questions, and be compared to other candidates.

    Anyways, thank you for the posts. I have already written down these sped questions and will write my responses after careful research and using my own experiences.
     
  12. Jenaloo

    Jenaloo New Member

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    Jun 5, 2018


    Come to Louisiana there are MM jobs open year round! Seriously though if you really want to teach sped try some volunteering stuff over the summer bcuz that shows employers you are passionate about the sped population in general.
     
    donziejo likes this.
  13. pommom

    pommom Comrade

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    My hubby has a high paying job here, so my income is just extra. We also have free childcare here, so we can't move .
    Well so far this summer I have had 3 interviews for elar sped. I did not get both of them. There is one that I interviewed 2 weeks ago, and I noticed that they extended the same job posting, so they probably are not satisfied with their candidates, that includes me.
    I am starting to think it may not be meant to be for me. I should start applying to general education elar postings too.
     
  14. pommom

    pommom Comrade

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    Interviewed question- How do you envision a co-teach class?
    Both teachers split the work equally. We collaborate frequently to make sure we share the same goals for our students. Both of us are teaching the class using different methods .

    Is that answer too vague? What else do I need to add?
     
  15. donziejo

    donziejo Devotee

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    You need to speak to a sped teacher. I've taught sped for 10 years in two different states. If I were asked about co-teaching. First I would want to know how many grade levels I would be co teaching. It's unrealistic to say split it equally as you are going to have a tremendous amount of paperwork that the Gen Ed teacher will not be required to do, plus the IEPs. Try and find out what model of co teaching is being used. You could say that it is important to collaborate weekly with the gen ed teacher and to have a copy of the lesson plan. (or if realistic write together) How did you work with the sped teacher you had? How often did she do pull outs or co teach? Talk about centers and how you do well with working with the students that are more challenged. (That includes the non iep child too) in small group. What state are you in? I'm in Mississippi and we have a massive teacher shortage. I'm on the Mississippi coast where the shortage is not as critical. Is the sped teacher in your state involved in tier 1 or 2 or 3? Where I am that is a job for an interventionist and the gen ed teacher. Also, I have not had to explain test results. My job is making sure my students have opportunities to have access to the grade level curriculum and to make sure I am working on instructional level goals in the IEP that will close the gap. I have many other duties. Read what the detailed account of what they need in the job description. Good Luck.
     
  16. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    Yes, that answer is too vague. As mentioned in the previous response, you need to find out what model of co-teaching the school where you are interviewing uses. Then, you need to tailor your answer to that model. Also as previously mentioned, it is not realistic for a sped teacher and gen ed teacher to split the work equally. You need to talk to how you would support your students with IEPs in accessing the curriculum. Of course, you should also show a willingness to work with non-IEP students, but you are there to support specific students and need to be sure to articulate that you understand and have methods for doing that. You should discuss collaboration and communication with the gen ed teacher, but you need to mention specific strategies for how you will make that happen. Keep in mind that there is an idealistic answer and a realistic answer. The school needs to know that you are willing to work in a non-ideal co-teaching situation, because those ideal co-teaching situations are few and far between, if they exist at all.
     
  17. pommom

    pommom Comrade

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    Specific strategies like small group instruction and walking around the room assisting students when teacher is teaching. Those are the only methoods I can think of .
    Please help by giving me two examples of Co teach strategies. I have co-teach interview tomorrow.
     
  18. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    Here are some co-teaching models: http://ctserc.org/component/k2/item/50-six-approaches-to-co-teaching.

    How will you ensure that you maintain communication and collaboration with the gen ed teacher? Email, face-to-face meetings, etc.? Be sure to be specific in your interview.

    Good luck!
     

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