Are we driving away special education teachers??

Discussion in 'Special Education Archives' started by agilruth, Mar 10, 2006.

  1. agilruth

    agilruth New Member

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    Hi, new here. In college and will be graduating next May with my BA in Special Education. I had a conversation with a special education teacher recently and she told me that she feels she is only able to spend half the day teaching her students, and the remaining time doing paperwork and going to meetings while her paras help manage the classroom. She showed me a 3 inch stack of paperwork for one third grader that she was bringing to an IEP meeting today. She told me that so many young teachers are coming in and quitting after 3 years, not because they don't like teaching but because the paperwork takes it's toll on them and they burn out!! She knew one young lady who stayed after school everyday until 7pm and still never got anything done.

    I know I want to do Special Ed and am really looking forward to working with these kids as I have a nephew with Downs Syndrome and a sibling with PDD. But why so many hoops?? Why are we doing this to our Special Education teachers?? Is it really fair? So many people complain that there are not enough Special Ed teachers and that each child deserves a one-on-one teacher. But look at what federal law is doing to scare these teachers off or drive them away. I understand how important it is to document everything and to have it on file. But aren't there computer programs, or a way to condense the work so that teachers don't get burned out?

    Maybe I needed to vent. Maybe I just think there has to be an easier way for teachers. It's getting to a point where teachers spend more time on paperwork than their kids. Thanks for reading
     
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  3. wvsasha

    wvsasha Companion

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    I found a program a couple of weeks ago called Document Everything! that I've been using this week. It interfaces with Excel so if you're familiar with Excel, then this is very easy to pick up and use. And even if you're not, it's still easy - lots of tutorial videos are available. You can request a free demo CD of it to check it out.

    There are a couple of things that I'd like to be able to "tweak" - it can only be installed on one computer & can't edit time stamping. I'd like to be able to have it installed at home and enter some documentation at the end of the day and able to "back-time" the actual hour/minutes I spent with the child. You can enter it and give it whatever date you need, but the time stamp will be the actual computer time you click "document event".

    I've written the author about this time stamp and he said that you can edit out that column when printing out the report and leave the date column in place. It's a work-around that I can live with.

    This is much better than what I had been doing - using an excel sheet with all 120 kids listed and entering/editing "comments" for my documentation.

    This program is much more professional looking and great at pulling it all together. Search for it on google for the website.
     
  4. Ms. I

    Ms. I Maven

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    I'm earning my 2nd teaching credential & my MA. I've never been hired in a permanent position before, just subbing. Paperwork never bothered me before, but maybe that's easy for me to say now because I don't have the job yet.

    Whenever I tell people I want to be an RSP teacher, quite a few of them have said, "Good luck!" like it's so much harder than a general ed teacher. I personally will take the small groups of kids over an entire big class any day. Do that many people hate paperwork? I'd rather do paperwork than deal w/ bad kids.

    But I sure don't want to be at work everyday till 6pm. This is making me think: What other jobs are there besides teaching if one has an education degree?
     
  5. wvsasha

    wvsasha Companion

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    So why are you getting your Masters degree if you're not sure you want to stay in teaching?

    Isn't that a huge waste of your time and money?
     
  6. tenndon

    tenndon Rookie

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    Mar 11, 2006

    I can only speak for myself, but the idea of all that paperwork does not appeal to me. I am currently an aide in a spec ed room with a great teacher. She does have tons of paper to push and she is often forced to do paperwork and leave the teaching to us. But for me the desire to be the teacher surpasses the dread of the paperwork. I want to complete my education and be able to know the needs of the child and the methods available to help them.

    Sadly, our society has made it necessary to document every little sniffle and snort and to be preapared for an eventual lawsuit. But, that is a price I am willing to pay to help the children.

    So, I am at least one future spec ed teacher who is not running because of paperwork.

    Blessings,
    Don
     
  7. Proud2BATeacher

    Proud2BATeacher Phenom

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    Mar 11, 2006

     
  8. Ms. I

    Ms. I Maven

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    I admit that I'm not one of those people who always dreamed of being a teacher when I grew up. I always wanted a career w/ kids, but never actually a teacher. I kind of stumbled into the whole teacher ed program. If I could redo it again, I would have worked towards being a school psychologist or speech therapist (my BA is in behavioral science). But I'm not quitting now when I'm a few months away from getting my MA & 2nd credential. Once I'm hired as an RSP teacher, I don't plan on doing it for 10 yrs or anything, hopefully, I would have become a school psychologist by then. Also, I still plan on getting my real estate's license which is something I started working on about 5 yrs ago.

    I was just wondering what other kinds of jobs can one get w/ a MA in education.
     
  9. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    Are some of these posts meant to be on a different thread? I'm just not following too well ...
     
  10. wvsasha

    wvsasha Companion

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    hmmm....I"m not sure....what I've found it great for is as a way to track documentation for providing services such as direct services in the reg. ed. classroom; reading tests (and other modifications), tracking communication - it can interface with outlook express and you can set it up to send out emails to parents/teachers/whoever when/if needed as well as attach pertinent document from this program to that email.

    It can also double as a gradebook but i have to use my county's grade program so I don't use DE! for this purpose.

    Send off for the demo CD or you could email the author of the program. He's very good about getting back to you with a day or so.
    Sorry I couldn't help more - I've only been using it for a week or so.
     
  11. Sam Aye M

    Sam Aye M Mr. Know-It-All

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    Mar 11, 2006

    I work in a special ed school, with ED kids, and I plan on leaving in the next year or two... specifically because of all the paperwork and other 'non-teaching" duties that we have to do. I came in to this profession to teach, and as much as I love teaching, and as much as I love my students... I don't find that I am as enthusiastic about it as i used to be. I am about ot start a Masters program, after which I plan on teaching at the JC level while I work on a PhD. I don't know if I will have the will (or the money) to go all the way, but that is my current plan right now.
     
  12. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    upsadaisy- I think because the original post lamented over the amount of paperwork involved in bogging down Sped teachers, later posters are referring to computer programs for making the paper pushing task a little easier!!
     
  13. sandyk

    sandyk Rookie

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    behsci-
    If you have a masters in education, there are quite a few things you could do with that type of degree. You could teach community college courses in whatever your minor subject area is, you could teach future teachers at the university level, only part-time though, but I'm pretty sure you have to be pursuing your PhD. It depends on what your minor is. If you have a minor in business, communications, or Language Arts, you can get hired in at some companies for training purposes because of your degree in education. If you were looking at real estate, you could also get certified to teach real estate courses. However, some of the rules may be different since you are residing in California. But that's how it is in Michigan.

    On the original topic, I am a senior at Eastern Michigan University and I am majoring in Special Education: Cognitive Impairment with a minor in Language, Literature, and Writing. I agree that the paperwork seems overwhelming having participated in (doing 100 pre-clinical hours aside from two semesters of student teaching) IEP meetings. I understand the need for the paperwork, but I completely agree that something easier and makes more efficient use of our time and degrees to record this info. I'm not turned off by the amount of paperwork (probably not having actually taught on my own yet) but I can see how, considering the burn out rate of special education teachers, that it would be frustrating.
     
  14. ALR

    ALR Rookie

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    Is the paperwork harder to do in the elementary setting

    I work at the high school level now and I was thinking about switching to the elementary level. I was told that resource positions at the elementary level are sooooo much work because there is no planning periods and you never get a break. We atleast get a planning period in high school. I do not care for the age of the kids though. The way they talk back and the overall grown mentality.

    I was wondering if an elementary sped teacher agrees with the fact that elementary paperwork is harder to deal with. All of it is a lot, I know but is elementary more.

    I have an interview but it is for collaborative all day at the elementary setting, is that better than resource, I guess that is what you are referring to as RSP.
     
  15. sandyk

    sandyk Rookie

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    Mar 14, 2006

    The elementary level is difficult because teachers and administration are very skeptical of placing students of that age into special education classes because its a critical developmental period for children. I think that's where the difficulty comes in... being able to correctly diagnose a child...
     
  16. ALR

    ALR Rookie

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    Thanks for the input. I heard that there is a lot of testing! which I understand because that is the age where most of the kids are first determined.
     
  17. sandyk

    sandyk Rookie

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    Yup and because of the age of development... there is a lot of different tests you have to administer for all different subjects.. math, science, reading, and writing. The formal assessments vary from district to district. You can check with the one youre interested in teaching in and see what kind of assessments they make special ed teachers administer.
     
  18. Proud2BATeacher

    Proud2BATeacher Phenom

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    I have to administer these standardized tests and finding the time to do this is hard. I know I could leave my parapros to teach my class but I do feel guilty since I know that they are making very little money to do what I consider my job -- teaching.
     
  19. bjweyant

    bjweyant Rookie

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    The paperwork in SPED is overwhelming at times. I don't know if it is harder in any grade-level over another.
    I personally find it hard to keep up with the required documentation of daily activities/incidents. My job is teaching and there are times when I find myself doing everything but teaching. Phone calls from parents need to be noted, incidents on the playground need to be noted, difficulties in class need to be noted, etc...If I don't do it right away - it doesn't get done. By the end of the day I have been doing so many other things that I forget to make the notations in the file. By the next day...forget it.

    I will check out the software that was mentioned above to see if it could possibly help.

    As for testing - We take a day every once in awhile and do nothing but testing. I have students working on the computer, at their seats, at the listening center, etc... My paras and I call the students and update their testing so that when we need it, it is done. Our prep period is after the students have gone home, so there really is no other way to get it done.

    Are they chasing us away from the field? They don't mean to. It is just that society has started to sue everybody for everything and documentation has become a necessity to cover ourselves/our districts. We have to be able to prove that we have done everything possible to educate each child and keep them safe while they are with us. It has become a nightmare. What can change it? 1. Make reasonable laws that have expectations that are doable.
    2. Provide time for SPED teachers to test/document during the school day.
    3. Stop states/feds/governments from legislating special education without representation from experienced SPED teachers.
     
  20. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    I've been following this thread with interest, as next year I am making a move from classroom teacher to Special Education Resource Teacher (SERT). I'm excited about the change but apprehensive as well, as I see the amount of paperwork that needs to be done and the amount of time spent doing it. My biggest challenge will being staying organized and "on top of things", as paperwork is far from being my strength! I'm not sure if this is what I want to do forever, but I have the opportunity to learn from a terrific mentor, who is the best I've ever seen at what she does (from paperwork, to working with students, to interpreting the psycho-babble in reports, to dealing with less-than-supportive parents). It is also my only opportunity to remain at the school I am at now (and which I love) unless I want to teach grade 1 or 2 which is even more out of my comfort zone than paperwork is!
     
  21. ALR

    ALR Rookie

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    Thanks for your response.

    I agree, seems to me that there is a give and take for each grade. I think I am going to still try to do elementary. I will just have to roll with the punches some how. At the high school level, we have a planning period and we are able to do some of the work. That part is ok, but dealing with the unruly students who think they are grown,use profanity in the halls like it is nothing and also fight every other day.

    I think I will just do what feels comfortable and hope that I am able to handle the paperwork and testing somehow. I guess I will have to do it after school like you do.
     
  22. bjweyant

    bjweyant Rookie

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    Despite the paperwork, this is the best job in the world. I am a Special Day Class teacher not a resource teacher. THere is a great amount of paperwork for both though. If you have the opportunity to learn from someone who has been doing this for awhile, DO IT!!! That is the best way to learn, when it is possible.

    As for the trade-off in grade levels. I wouldn't teach k-2 for anything in the world. I would rather have my 3-5th graders any day. If they offered me k-2 with someone to help with paperwork, I would not take it. We all have our abilities and weaknesses. I don't do little.
     
  23. ALR

    ALR Rookie

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    So would I. I want the upper elementary grades. All of the interviews that I have been going on cover grades 1-5. I do not want 1 and 2. I would prefer 4th and 5th, but would settle for 3rd.

    What is meant by a special day teacher. I keep seeing that title a lot on these post. I live in Georgia. Does that mean self contain?
    You have the same students all day?

    I agree, I said that I would not take the lower elementary if that is all that was offered. I think that I am going to wait this one out until the best position comes along in the elementary level.

    It's tuff, be glad that you have found your perfect position.
     
  24. Proud2BATeacher

    Proud2BATeacher Phenom

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    I have a K-2 self-contained Mild Aut. class. It is really hard because I have some students who are pretty well academically at a 2 year old level (I have a kg. student who is in his second year of kg. and turning 7 who still cannot sing the alphabet song and is only counting to 14 (which is an improvement from the number 3 which he counting to last year). I then have 8 year olds functioning between the 3-5 grade level.

    It is hard to teach small groups with older students when you have Kg. students who have never done anything independently. It gets better as the year progresses but the first 4 months of school is pretty stressful.

    I am always jealous when I walk into the 3-5 s/c Mild Aut. class and everyone is sitting at their desks working. I like to think that I trained them well in my class.:D
     
  25. bjweyant

    bjweyant Rookie

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    SDC stands for Special Day Class - this is a self-contained class for special education. Mine is for Mild/Moderate learning handicapped students. My students are in the 3rd - 5th grade but function anywhere from PreK to 2nd in most subjects. I have a 5th grade ED (emotionally disturbed) boy who is actually doing 5th grade math.Of course I am spoon feeding it and monitoring his stress levels. If things get too tense we stop for awhile or the rest of the period.

    It is difficult to know sometimes whether we have accomplished much during our year or years with our students. Going into another class and seeing our former students doing what they are supposed to be doing is a great thing. It means that we have at least taught them to follow directions. I could not teach K-2 anything let alone Autistic children. I think that I would go mad. Proud2BATeacher has my admiration and respect. That must be tough. Keep it up. You are giving them the skills they need to keep learning as they move through our educational system. I get students who can't do even that. Good Job!
     
  26. Proud2BATeacher

    Proud2BATeacher Phenom

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    Thanks bjweyant!!! This is exactly what I needed to hear today due to the very busy day that I had (due to paper work not students). It totally feels like a Thursday - - 7 pm and I am ready for bet. Your comment has given me the lift that I need to get right to work on an IEP that is due in 2 days:D
     
  27. Proud2BATeacher

    Proud2BATeacher Phenom

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    15 minutes later....

    Okay, I am going to go work on my IEP right now...no... right...now:D Bye!
     
  28. Lavender L.A.

    Lavender L.A. New Member

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    Please do not let the paperwork scare you away from Special Education. When I first started in this field, yes-I noticed the paperwork, but I was able to purpose data collection that did condense the amount; get creative and purpose forms and programs that you think may assist with paperwork. Many schools are now using computer programs, many schools have program assistants that also assist with the paperwork. Most importantly, (which you probably know) documentation is very crucial in special education. For the most part, we are the voices of these children.
     

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