Any former special ed teachers out there that switched to regular ed?

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by rookieABC123, Jun 21, 2013.

  1. rookieABC123

    rookieABC123 Comrade

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    Jun 21, 2013

    I've been a special education teacher for the past 5 years. I've mostly taught emotional support at the elem. level which has really taken a toll on me emotionally. I'm getting switched to middle school learning support next school year which I was happy to get out of emotional support.
    I'm almost certain however that some reg. ed. positions may come open and that I would have a chance to bid into a regular ed. position at the elementary level...possibly a 1st grade teaching position.

    Please give me pros/cons of doing this is if you have ever been a former special education teacher turned reg. ed.
    Thank you!!!
     
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  3. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    Jun 21, 2013

    I've been in Special Ed for the past 7 years. For the past 4, my role has been split, with some Special Ed and some regular classroom. Next year, I won't be doing any Special Ed at all and I'm thrilled about it. I've become increasingly frustrated with the increasing caseloads and decreasing time I had available to work with students. I loved my time in Special Ed and feel that it has made me a better classroom teacher. I'm more aware of the diverse needs of all of my students and have a deeper "toolkit" of strategies to help those who are struggling. First-hand experience with the whole "process" gives me an awareness of what I need to be responsible for as a classroom teacher and when I need to go beyond. It also helps me when speaking with parents about concerns I may have about their children.

    I'm very excited to return, full-time, to the regular classroom.
     
  4. donziejo

    donziejo Devotee

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    I've taught both. I've always taught 6-9th grade. The biggest difference to me was the paperwork. I prefer sped because I like working in small groups. I don't know anthingabout teaching 1st grade. Good Luck!
     
  5. swansong1

    swansong1 Virtuoso

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    I have switched back and forth several times in my career. This year I am going back to SPED. I really miss the children, working with the paras, and having a smaller class. I also like the freedoms to choose what and when to teach since I am not dependent upon teaching to the standards, as the gen ed teachers are. I have freedom to choose what I feel best meets the needs of my diverse students. I also enjoy teaching the social standards that my students need.
     
  6. Tasha

    Tasha Phenom

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    Jun 21, 2013

    One of the teachers on my team switched 2 years ago and loves it. A lot of her skills translate to kindergarten well and she loves having more of a team to collaborate with.
     
  7. Special-t

    Special-t Enthusiast

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    I used to long term sub Gen Ed. I liked being able to go deeper into content, but much prefer small the class sizes in SPED.
     
  8. Accountable

    Accountable Companion

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    Jun 21, 2013

    This is very much like me. I just finished my 6th year in Special Ed (all in high school) the last 4 as co-teacher in inclusion classes. I get frustrated with all the time that Spec Ed requires of me out of the classroom. I seemed like half my time at school was spent outside the classroom. So for the past couple of years I have requested either a resource class or to transfer to General Ed. I finally got approval to start next year teaching World Geography.

    I am so excited to have my own classroom!

    Another part of it, I have to admit, is prestige. Students and teachers have told me they think I would make a good teacher. Some students used the term "real teacher". I know they meant it as a compliment, but it shows the lack of respect that Special Education gets in general, regardless of the professionalism and skill of the individual Special Ed teachers.
     
  9. BumbleB

    BumbleB Habitué

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    Jun 21, 2013

    Totally agree. I get this sometimes, too. It's frustrating.
     
  10. LouiseB

    LouiseB Cohort

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    Jun 21, 2013

    I'm a sped teacher and I also think that sped teachers are treated as their students get treated ! It's like we sped teachers have some kind of disability.
     
  11. YoungTeacherGuy

    YoungTeacherGuy Phenom

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    Oh my goodness! One of my close friends is a SpEd teacher and she said the same thing: People (sometimes) treat her as though she must have a disability if she teaches SpEd. :(
     
  12. waterfall

    waterfall Maven

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    I switched from sped to gen ed last year, and now I'm going back to sped. I can list my pros/cons, but honestly it really depends on the program and set up you come from and what you're going to in gen ed.

    One of the biggest cons in gen ed for me was the pressure of standardized testing. I was in a turnaround school and those scores were EVERYTHING. I had approximately 5 students out of 23 that came into 3rd grade on grade level. I would get up in the middle of the night and make lists of ways to group students, who I thought might pass if we took it right now, etc. Once we took the test I had anxiety dreams almost every night about getting the scores back. Thankfully, my class did amazing- but the stress near killed me. I taught sped in a somewhat lower performing (but not turnaround) district and a lot of gen ed students weren't passing either, so there was honestly 0 pressure for me to get my sped kiddos to pass. I didn't worry about the test at all, and I NEVER spent class time on testing strategies or anything like that. On the other hand, my dad is a sped teacher in an affluent school and a few of the sped kids are the ONLY kids in the school who aren't passing. Therefore, he has an extreme amount of pressure related to testing, even though his students have documented learning disabilities! I

    As for paperwork, this surprises people, but I honestly feel like I had more to do in gen ed. My state's IEP system is very short and simple. An annual IEP would take me 30 minutes tops, and that's only something you do once a year per kid. I spent hours each week grading in gen ed (and I only graded assessments) and it was honestly a lot more time consuming than IEP or progress monitoring paperwork.

    I was blessed with a wonderful grade level team this year and I absolutely adored them- but I think with different personalities it would be harder for me to work on a team than just on my own in sped.

    Planning was more time-consuming for me in sped. I had up to 15 different small group lessons a day, whereas in gen ed I only had to plan for four subjects. Of course I did guided groups in gen ed, but it is honestly not the same level as trying to plan a guided lesson for sped. I also felt that my day went faster in gen ed because I was only teaching a few blocks. I had far more resources for planning/teaching in gen ed. In sped I pretty much created everything myself.

    I was very frustrated with RtI as a gen ed teacher. I was asked to do all of the interventions (which MANY of my kids needed) and somehow teach my class all day too. I often felt like I was being asked to do the work of two teachers.

    I'll admit, one of the biggest pros for me in gen ed which has already been mentioned was being treated like a "real teacher." I loved having my own class. All of PD is generally geared toward classroom teachers so I no longer had to sit and "listen in" to hours of things that didn't pertain to me. I had a great relationship with my kids in sped and I know they liked coming to resource, but I was still never seen as their "real teacher." I find more respect from people in the community/within the school also. When I was teaching sped I would often hear, "Oh don't worry, you'll just work in sped for a few years and then you can move up to having your own classroom. How insulting! People would also act like I just didn't have a lot of work to do or that my day was so much easier because I only had a few kids at a time. I actually had about half of the planning time of gen ed teachers, but when special projects came up they would literally say things like, "Oh I know you have extra time, so can you..." I did have a few people ask me why I chose sped if I didn't have a disability myself, which honestly doesn't even make sense to me!

    I honestly switched to sped again because that was the job I found. The school I taught gen in was HORRIBLE. We had a turnover rate of over 50% and my admin was pure evil. I literally often felt physically sick going into the school because I was so anxious/afraid of admin. It came down to the fact that the school environment to me is a lot more important than what I'm teaching.
     
  13. LouiseB

    LouiseB Cohort

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    Jun 21, 2013

    Nice post Waterfall. I love teaching my sped kids in junior high. I'm good at what I do and I know the kids want my help...but I don't feel I'm on the same level as others in the eye of admin! The teachers I work with appreciate my knowledge and help. But admin. feel (or that's what I see) that sped is a nuisance. (A lot of money comes from sped.) they also don't understand either. I'm not complaining. There was a regular Ed teacher in my school. She also had her sped endorsement but had never taught sped only. This year she requested to move to an autism room and people tried to talk her out of it! She said that they made her feel it was a bad decision to leave regular Ed.
     

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