Future Sp.Ed teacher feeling discouraged

Discussion in 'Special Education' started by Ritalo, Oct 13, 2015.

  1. Ritalo

    Ritalo Rookie

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    Oct 13, 2015

    Hi everyone!

    I'm currently in graduate school working towards a Masters in Teaching. I'm getting two certifications: one for P-3 gen ed and the other for p-3 special ed. I've always had my heart set on special education. While obtaining my BA (it's in Psychology) I did an internship at a counseling group for children with mild autism (at the time known as Asperger's) and I loved it. I decided to apply as an assistant at a private specialized school for children with severe autism and/or behavioral disorders and boy, was I in for a rude awakening.

    I was placed in the kindergarten classroom. I was told I was lucky because this was one of the "better" classrooms. Well if that class was considered "good" then I didn't want to know what "bad" was. There was a total of six kids, a lead teacher and five aides. Two out of the six children were verbal. The behaviors and outbursts were constant. The biting, the kicking, the hitting, the screaming, etc. On top of that, I felt I was poorly trained, and the other professionals in the room were not very helpful.

    I dreaded going to work every morning. I was physically and emotionally drained. Every time my student acted out or had a behavior I felt it was my fault. I noticed most (not all of course) of the other teachers/aides were so happy to be at work and I just wasn't. Quite frankly, I couldn't stand being there.

    I immediately became discouraged and depressed. I felt as if I was a bad person for not enjoying being with these children. I quit after about a month and a half. I thought to myself "if this is what being a special education teacher is... I absolutely can't do it." I've been told to relax, that public schools are different and not as intense, and that there are different opportunities with different kinds of children in special education, but I just still feel so discouraged. It's even making me reconsider teaching, even though I'm almost done with my MA program. I'm at a loss.

    If anyone could offer a tiny bit of advice, I'd appreciate it. Sorry for the ridiculously long post!
     
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  3. ca_sped

    ca_sped Rookie

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    Oct 14, 2015

    I've worked in mod-severe SDC classrooms in public school for 6 years, first as an aide and now as a teacher. My eyes were OPENED when I visited a non-public school as part of my autism classwork. The student and their behaviors there were nothing like I ever experienced in my time in a public school Remember, legally students have to be in a least restrictive environment and a non-public school is far more restrictive than a public school, so the behaviors are going to be far worse than most of what you will see in a regular classroom. I saw more students restrained and more violent outbursts during my three hour observation than I have in 6 years of working in public schools.

    Perhaps check out some other classrooms and do some volunteer work to see if this is what you really want to do. Getting a MA isn't going to hurt, you could parlay those skills into work as an advocate or find other ways to work with students if yo find being in the classroom really isn't for you. Good luck!
     
  4. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

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    Oct 14, 2015

    I wouldn't base your decision on one bad experience. I have only worked in the public school system so I cannot speak what other experiences may be out there in the private sector; however, my experiences have been good. Granted, I mostly work with higher functioning students with autism, but on occasion have worked with nonverbal students with autism and though their behaviors have been worse than the high functioning students, they were not that bad. I second what ca-sped said about volunteering in other classrooms to get a feel of what else may be out there for you.
     
  5. waterfall

    waterfall Maven

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    Oct 16, 2015

    There are different level of sped. The behaviors you are describing are common in self-contained rooms for students with EBD or students with severe needs. Personally, I would never be interested in a job like that. I did severe needs for one summer in ESY and will never do it again, even for the summer. I felt like I was just supervising/managing behaviors and not actually teaching. I teach mild/mod. and my lessons are all academic. You still need a lot of patience because you have to teach the same things over and over again for the kid to understand them, but its definitely nothing like working with severe needs.
     
  6. Sklent

    Sklent Rookie

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    Oct 30, 2015

    http://www.childrenssuccessfoundation.com/

    I work at an NPS and we use the nurtured heart approach. It's a parenting approach but it's really about choosing your own attitude and focusing on the positives, no matter how small. We deal with some of the toughest kids in our district short of juvenile hall, but every day feels like victory because you always find SOMETHING to celebrate.
     

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