Feeling inadequate with a Generalist M.A.

Discussion in 'Special Education' started by sunni11, Feb 21, 2011.

  1. sunni11

    sunni11 Rookie

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2011
    Messages:
    16
    Likes Received:
    0

    Feb 21, 2011

    Hello folks,

    I am feeling SO stressed out, and I am wondering if anyone else has had a similar experience. I got my Master's degree in a Generalist Special Education program and am licensed to teach K-12. This has left me feeling sooooo inadequate!!! I feel like I learned a little about a lot, but as a special education teacher I feel like I am expected to be a specialist in many ways. I am expected to individualize the learning experience in reading, writing, and math for students who may have a learning disability, and emotional disorder, or one of many severe needs. On top of that, my program offered one, maybe two courses on literacy and math instruction, and I am supposed to know how to teach children who struggle with learning how to learn these skills with one or two math and literacy courses?!?! I do not feel qualified to teach!!!! Has any one else felt this way and what do you recommend I do???
     
  2.  
  3. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2005
    Messages:
    14,055
    Likes Received:
    1,878

    Feb 22, 2011

    I've been teaching for over 10 years, and this is my sixth year in Special Ed. Not a week goes by when I don't think, "I'm not sure what to do here." The key, I think, is not to know everything, but to know where to go to find the answers you need.

    What ages/grades of students do you work with?
    Do you provide resource support outside of the classroom?
    How many students are on your caseload?
     
  4. sunni11

    sunni11 Rookie

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2011
    Messages:
    16
    Likes Received:
    0

    Feb 22, 2011

    I am working in a high school. I teach math, reading, life skills, and relationships in my own classroom to 10 kids with severe needs. They then go out to general ed classes with para support for their other classes. I think a lot of my stress is because I have not been given a curriculum for math or relationships and really have not been given any support or direction on what to teach them.

    There is another teacher in my school who works with a similar caseload. When I go to her for help, she seems irritated with me. She is short with me and not very helpful. I have heard her say that people with Master's degrees should know what they are doing. This has really affected me. I am hesitant to ask for help now and I question myself a lot. Should I know more than I do? Should I have more answers than I do? Did I miss something in my Master's program and student teaching?
     
  5. waterfall

    waterfall Virtuoso

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2011
    Messages:
    6,041
    Likes Received:
    905

    Feb 22, 2011

    I feel the same way in sped sometimes. I did a dual certification program for my undergrad so I am licensed in both elementary education (general ed.) and elementary special ed. I took a whopping 2 1/2 classes on sped (and honestly, they weren't all that helpful) and the rest of my classes focused on regular ed. elementary. I student taught in sped for only 10 weeks, and my co op teacher knew I was more interested in classroom teaching (unfortunately, I couldn't find a job as a classroom teacher, so it didn't matter...) so she didn't give me all that much information. In regular ed. I taught in 8 different classrooms every grade k-3 as well as almost a full year as the full time 3rd grade teacher. I felt SO much more prepared for gen. ed. I find that I know more than I realize- a lot of the things I know in regular ed. can be applied to special ed. I also don't hesitate to ask people. If the other sped teacher isn't helpful, are there other specialists you could ask? I tend to direct questions to our speech pathologist, school psychologist, or ot. I get tons of ideas from them- and they help me with meetings/iep paperwork (something I literally had 0 training in). If a regular ed. teacher asks me something and I don't know- I make sure to say "I'm not sure, but I will find out for you!" rather than making something up. I would then ask someone who might know or do research on the topic. People make comments to me all the time about how I have "so much knowledge" for a first year teacher- while I personally feel inadequate sometimes! I think part of it is being confident (at least outwardly, haha) and being willing to find answers if you don't know them right away.
     
  6. teachersk

    teachersk Connoisseur

    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2007
    Messages:
    1,872
    Likes Received:
    1

    Feb 23, 2011

    Sunni,

    What level are your kids? You say kids with "Severe Needs" but you also say you're teaching them relationships. (I Just know that my severe kids would never understand anything about relationships so I just wanted to get a gauge for where your kids are!)

    For math, you can just look into some "life skills" that they will need later in life to be more independent. The first things that come to mind are MONEY and TIME. Counting money, identifying coins, adding prices using a calculator, combining coins, putting money in wallet, taking money out of wallet, using calculator with menu, etc. Reading a calendar, finding a date on a calendar, days of the week, months of the year, etc. (Is this their level? Or are they beyond this?)

    Anyway... it can definitely be rough the first year and I understand what you mean about not feeling adequately prepared with a Master's degree. I got my Bachelor's, taught for three years, and then began my Master's. There were some students in my Master's program that had never been in a classroom before (fancy that!) and they always said they were glad to have my perspective (i.e. "you never do those 4 page lesson plans when you're a real teacher.") However, even though you're a new teacher with a Master's it doesn't mean you are supposed to know everything. Clearly the other teacher you're asking for help is not really a good resource for you! You should look into finding other teachers who are interested in helping, who offer up their services, etc. Try asking your coordinator or supervisor - "Who do you think I could talk to about getting a curriculum?" or "Who could I discuss my lesson plans with?" (Is there another severe needs teacher at another campus?)

    Also, you could post on here about what specifically you're looking for - in another post - and I bet a bunch of people would respond. It can be totally overwhelming in the beginning (I'll be honest, during my first year of teaching, there were a lot of enchanteedlearning activities hanging on the walls, lol).

    Hang in there... and be confident that seeking out help is what the best teachers do. Trying to do it all alone will just end up frustrating and embarassing for you - have no shame! Seek help! NExt time that teacher gives you a dirty look, or whatever, you could call her out and just say, "I'm just trying to do what's best for my students" or "I've really never used this curriculum before, that's why I was asking. Sorry!"
     
  7. teachersk

    teachersk Connoisseur

    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2007
    Messages:
    1,872
    Likes Received:
    1

    Feb 23, 2011

Share This Page

Members Online Now

Total: 322 (members: 0, guests: 297, robots: 25)
test