Asked to teach Life Skills instead of Resource, feeling pressured: HELP!

Discussion in 'Special Education' started by MotherGoose, May 8, 2012.

  1. MotherGoose

    MotherGoose Rookie

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    May 8, 2012

    This is my first year at a high school teaching Resource English. My principal asked me yesterday if I would be interested in teaching Life Skills next year. Rumor has it that the woman who teaches it now REALLY wants out and has threatened to leave if they don't move her. I think she wants my current position, which is Resource English.

    My question is.... am I OBLIGATED to say YES??

    In our "conversation" he said he knew I was a "team player". I told him I would seriously consider it and go "check it out" and talk to the current teacher. Well, I did and decided I didn't want it--- I was also warned by another Sped Life Skills teacher (there are 4 total) that it is the worst position with the worst amount of paperwork. I also think it would be way too depressing.

    Anyways... when I told my P at the end of the day yesterday that I didn't want it, he told me to go home and "pray about it"....

    ugghhh!!!! So now I am really feeling pressured. Do I stand my ground and say "No"???
     
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  3. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

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    There are people that are great teaching in a Life Skills class. I am not one of those people. If my principal came to me and asked me to do it, I would have to say no and continue to say no until he got the point that I would not move. Does this teacher have senority? That would be the only way in my district that she would be able to move classrooms.
     
  4. greendream

    greendream Cohort

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    Out of curiosity, what is "life skills" and what makes it so bad?
     
  5. wonderingwhat2d

    wonderingwhat2d Rookie

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    Life skills is teaching kids with tough disabilities like brain trauma, mental retardation, etc. You are teaching them more to live and how to live than academic skills.

    If your principal told you to pray, I'm assuming you're both Christians? Then pray. If not, seems odd.

    If you don't want life skills tell him no. Just say no, I'm not gifted for that. And you need to be gifted for that...
     
  6. MotherGoose

    MotherGoose Rookie

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    Yes, the current teacher in the position has seniority. She has been here much longer and wants out. I think she has asked to switch with me.

    And I felt as though him asking me "to pray" was VERY inappropriate and coniving. This is a public school (but in a VERY openly christian district) and I guess I come across as a good little christian woman who will go home and pray and feel guilted into saying yes. Ha!

    Thinking of even telling him I DID pray and God said HELL NO!
     
  7. wonderingwhat2d

    wonderingwhat2d Rookie

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    Well, he's assuming you're a Christian hopefully. Otherwise, it is very conniving. HE needs to pray. You shouldn't be forced to make a decision out of guilt.

    Sorry for that either way. Sometimes we Christians are rotten. I will pray for you and him.

    I taught lifeskills and loved it. But I didn't like teaching autistic kids because the one I did hit me. I just couldn't keep coming to work and dealing with that.

    I learned a lot, however, and grew to love those kids. I fought for them as well.

    I hope it works out for you!
     
  8. cult

    cult Rookie

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    May 8, 2012

    He is basically telling you that if you refuse the position you will be let go. The comment about prayer is unprofessional at best. In any case, his message is clear. If you want to continue at this school you must take the life skills position.
     
  9. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    May 8, 2012

    There are some things that you have to do because you are contractually obligated to do them. There are other things that you have to do because your job and professional happiness depend on doing them.

    I think that you need to accept this new position and find a way to enjoy it. Good luck to you in whatever you decide.
     
  10. orangetea

    orangetea Connoisseur

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    May 8, 2012

    Do you have tenure?

    Did he say he would let you go if you say no to the position?
     
  11. TeacherNY

    TeacherNY Maven

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    May 8, 2012

    The OP says it is her first year at the school. I'm not sure why the principal just didn't say "we are moving you to a new position" instead of asking you if you would want to do it. It seems they have already made up their minds about the other teacher taking your current position.
    I teach students with MR/Autism and we do a lot of life skills in my classroom. It is not an easy job. For some people it is difficult not to get burned out after a few years. This teacher who has been teaching it for a while might need a change and if she's been there for a while then I would assume she deserves it. These positions should really be rotated in the special ed department to avoid burnout since some classes with severely disabled students take a lot out of you.
     
  12. waterfall

    waterfall Virtuoso

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    May 8, 2012

    Absolutely don't take a job you don't want. You'll be miserable all year and so will the kids. I hope this isn't taken the wrong way, but I gather from your posts that you didn't like the resource position? If you found that frustrating, I would imagine that life skills would be 100 times worse. I like resource but would never, ever consider taking a life skills position because it wouldn't be fair to me or the kids. I thought you were looking for other positions outside of this school anyway? (Maybe I'm thinking of the wrong poster?)
     
  13. lovebeingteach

    lovebeingteach Companion

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    "Life Skills"...Do you teach in NC? I do, and this is the only state I have taught where I have heard it termed that. Anyway, you DO NOT have to accept the other position. It's not your fault the other teacher does not like her job. I, personally, teach life skills and LOVE it. I would never do anything else. However, it is not for everyone. You may have a way out. Do you have a license in "Adaptive Curriculum?" If not, you may not even be "highly qualified" to teach this sort of class.
     
  14. worrywart

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    May 8, 2012

    I think that I would be direct with the principal about it. That you know it takes someone with a special calling to teach life skills and that you love your current position and have never felt led in the direction of life skills. Ask him if there is a special reason that he wants/is asking you to take the job.

    At this point, I think you need to lay it on the line. Good luck and update on what happens.
     
  15. MotherGoose

    MotherGoose Rookie

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    May 8, 2012

    Yes, you are correct. I am also the Resource teacher looking elsewhere. My applications and resumes are out there, but times are VERY tough right now (jobs are hard to come by), so I had made peace with the fact that I MAY be back next year and even began to prepare.... UNTIL this!!! Now I don't know what to do other than lace up my running shoes!!!

    I busted my behind all year and really made progress with my resource students, which has gone completely unnoticed evidently. And they don't seem to care about the students at all at this school.

    I wish I could afford to gracefully resign before finding another position. I am actually thinking of suggesting to my husband that we refinance our house so I can quit and take my chances of findng another position elsewhere!

    Thanks for seeing it my way, Waterfall. And thanks for all your input and support on my other posts.
     
  16. MotherGoose

    MotherGoose Rookie

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    May 8, 2012

    At my school, they are a mixture of 44 kids with autism and severe mental and/or physical retardation divided up among 4 teachers who each teach 4 basic core subjects (they call it "consumer" english, science, math, etc...). The position I have been asked to do is for consumer english and occupational prep. They want me to take over the English and occupational prep (where I would have to also take them on jobsites 2 to 3 times EVERY week (by law). For English, most of them can't read, and are learning the alphabet.

    The "bad" part, in my opinion (and what I have been told by the other teachers in the department), is NOT the severity of the kids, BUT the amount of paperwork and pushy, lawsuit happy parents. I have been told that the paras get the fun of working with the kids while I will be stuck collecting data, doing assessments, and loads of paperwork.
     
  17. MotherGoose

    MotherGoose Rookie

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    May 8, 2012

    Thanks!
     
  18. MotherGoose

    MotherGoose Rookie

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    May 8, 2012

    Well, here's the latest:

    He (my AP) emailed me after school today saying "Well, what did God say?" The subject line just said "prayer".

    My husband thinks I shouldn't reply to his email, but instead start a NEW email simply saying that I don't want to change assignments and let it go with that. (My husband is outraged by his manipulating and unprofessional email and thinks I shouldn't even respond to such an email, therefore start a NEW one.)

    However, I don't want to deliberately make him mad either.

    We ARE Christians, by the way, but don't like people who use it to "guilt" others into doing what they want--- AND believe it is totally unacceptable and unprofessional and disrespectful in the "public" workplace.
     
  19. MotherGoose

    MotherGoose Rookie

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    May 8, 2012

    He can't just "let me go". I just signed a new 3 year contract. My annual classroom evaluation was also almost ALL "Exceeds Expectations" so he can't move me for "poor performance" either!
     
  20. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

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    May 8, 2012

    I agree with your husband. I would start a new email (with a new subject line) stating that you just do not feel that the students would benefit from you teaching them at this point in time.
     
  21. orangetea

    orangetea Connoisseur

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    I agree with your husband. That's just incredibly rude, religious or not.
     
  22. MotherGoose

    MotherGoose Rookie

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    We don't do "tenure" in our state. I just signed a 3 year contract and can back out up to 45 days BEFORE school starts. They, however, can't break the contract without jumping through a bunch of hoops first and proving poor performance. And since I just received a glowing annual appraisal, I am not too worried about that.
    What I AM WORRIED ABOUT though is that they will MOVE me anyways and NOT tell me until it is too late for ME to break my contract.
     
  23. wonderingwhat2d

    wonderingwhat2d Rookie

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    May 8, 2012

    Tell the P no and then just let it go. If you don't have peace about it, don't do it.

    Lifeskills is a lot of paperwork. You really need to want to do it and be gifted for it.
     
  24. teachersk

    teachersk Connoisseur

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    May 8, 2012

    In the last post you made about wanting more info about life skills, most of the replies suggested observing the class.

    Have you had a chance to see what they do?

    I would say that it is somewhat of an inaccurate generalization that all kids in life skills are learning their alphabet. There are many kids that are learning a variety of functional skills that will serve them well on their journey to increasing independence.

    Anyway, you said that you would "have to take them to a job site by law." Is this something you are totally against? I, personally, find this type of thing incredibly exciting. I will say that ALL of my colleagues would be like, "You guys are going to BURGER KING today?? JEALOUS!" Everyone was always so jealous of us leaving campus all the time. The kids loved it, I loved it. I love community trip days! There is a different kind of thrill that comes with getting to see them in their natural environment and teaching them the things they need to be successful.

    But, like many have said, if you are adamantly against this, you and the kids are going to be miserable. Many kids with autism (and other severe disabilities) have a very keen awareness of the attitudes of the people that work with them. If they know that you are unhappy, don't believe in them, have low expectations, don't want to be there, any of the above, the results are not pretty.

    Anyway, if you are totally not even considering it, I would just let your P know that you wish to be considered for other positions other than life skills. Perhaps your district would move you to a different building. To be honest with you, and others may disagree, I think that Resource Teachers have way more paperwork and headaches than self-contained teachers.

    You have a smaller caseload. You have a consistent schedule. You have your "own class" (though what you are describing sounds a little bit different to me?) You can set your own rules, your own curriculum (usually, but your situation sounds kind of odd, so I don't know).

    There are a lot of bonuses. I've never heard of life skills teachers not working with kids. Also, in order for the paras to work with the kids, they have to be instructed on what to do, be given materials. All of these things come from you. If you like being creative, individualizing instruction, and making instructional materials, this could be fun! And, I guess it's in the eyes of the beholder, because to me, getting to leave campus and do community-based instruction with the kiddos was a major bonus, but it sounds like you view it as a headache!

    Anyway, I would NOT take this job if you are ADAMANT that you will hate it. Even if you don't have another job to fall back on, the kids don't deserve a teacher who doesn't want to be there. I know you could find a position elsewhere. My district has always had what they call a "Transfer List" - can you get on the transfer list and try to get a job at a different campus?

    Sorry you're in such a tough situation. I definitely agree that you should not be forced to teach something you don't want to teach. ALl too often administrators don't really see the difference in "Special Ed teachers" - even though there are MAJOR differences (i.e. Autism vs Resource, or In class support vs life skills). They just see "SPECIAL ED" and think it's all the same. That is essentially like putting a band teacher in the chorus room. They wouldn't do that , would they?

    Good luck with everything!
     
  25. waterfall

    waterfall Virtuoso

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    I think there must be a difference between what "life skills" means from district to district. In my district, "life skills" programs are for students who are literally not going to be able to do ANY academic work whatsoever. It is things like toileting, eating, dressing, basic movements, etc. Even in HS programs the students would not be reading at all and even "alphabet" might be too lofty of a goal. Kids that are capable of doing academic work on any level (even a really, really low level) would be placed into another program which we call "cognitive needs." This is for students with more severe MR, autism, etc. They are doing more "functional academics" such as counting money, functional reading, learning how to do a basic job, etc. Either way, it sounds like mothergoose did observe the program and decided it wasn't for her.
     
  26. teachersk

    teachersk Connoisseur

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    Yes, it does sound that way. And yes I do think the definition varies from state to state and even district to district.

    In the district I worked in in Texas (way back when) the kids had to have an iq under 50 to be in life skills. But we did do reading, counting, ADLs, circle time, etc.

    Definitely different definitions everywhere.

    Best wishes, mother goose. Hope you're not forced into something you do not want.
     
  27. MotherGoose

    MotherGoose Rookie

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    YES! I spent part of my day observing.
     
  28. orangetea

    orangetea Connoisseur

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    Did you reply to the email or talk to him?
     
  29. MotherGoose

    MotherGoose Rookie

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    Yes, the kids are learning their ABC's. If they can read AT ALL, then they come to MY current class for Resource English.

    As far as going off-campus with them, it sounds too physically draining to me. I have chronic fatigue & fibromyalgia (caused by chronic Lyme) and just don't have the energy for that. I REALLY, REALLY wish I did and REALLY envy those who do! It DOES sound like fun! But unfortunately, going places REALLY drains my energy, and is something I avoid outside of work. I have really learned to adapt and juggle my energy in a classroom situation, and can sit if I really need to, for instance. So this is ANOTHER reason I don't want the position.
     
  30. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    Perhaps you can explain that you are physically unable to handle this class?
     
  31. Emily Bronte

    Emily Bronte Groupie

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    Yes, life skills is completely different from district to district. For our higher functioning kids, life skills would discuss things like online banking, applying for loans, financial literacy...and the like, not really those lower functional skills.
     
  32. lovebeingteach

    lovebeingteach Companion

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    Actually, just to clarify things: According to NCLB, even us "Living Skills Teachers" have to teach the extensions of the standard course of study. No more learning how to write checks. No more learning to plan healthy meals. No more learning how to brush your teeth. They are expected to be taught and learn the concepts that their grade level peers are learning.

    This year in my class we have done equations, and other things that you would never imagine these kids could do. (I also sneak in some functional skills, because I am a bit of a rebel.)
     
  33. MotherGoose

    MotherGoose Rookie

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    May 9, 2012

    Hi all! Here's an update:

    I sent him a short and sweet response basically saying no, not comfortable switching, love my current assignment, yada yada...
    He said ok!

    AND I have a job interview tomorrow at another school!! Yay!! Wish me luck!
     
  34. MotherGoose

    MotherGoose Rookie

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    May 9, 2012

    And by the way...

    Many thanks to everyone who commented on this thread--- very comforting and insightful!:):thanks:
     
  35. orangetea

    orangetea Connoisseur

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    That's wonderful! I'm so glad you won't need to switch positions.

    Good luck on the interview :)
     
  36. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

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    I'm glad that he said everything was ok.

    Good luck on your interview!
     
  37. teachersk

    teachersk Connoisseur

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    May 10, 2012

    Whew! Dodged that one! Glad it worked out.
     

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