Giving up sped going to Gen. Ed.

Discussion in 'General Education' started by newtothis2006, Feb 23, 2008.

  1. newtothis2006

    newtothis2006 Rookie

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    Feb 23, 2008

    Are there any sped. teachers who decided it wasn't for them and moved sucsessfully to teaching Gen. Ed?

    This is my first full year teaching resource math to middle school. I love the kids but I'm completly burned out of all the paperwork, ARD's and case managing responsibilities. All I want to do is teach! I don't want to have to worry about the other garbage. I also will look forward to planning with other teachers.

    From someone who's done both or anyone who knows both jobs what might I expect? Is it going to be hard to find a job? What challenges will there be for this transition?

    Thank you
     
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  3. INteacher

    INteacher Aficionado

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    Feb 23, 2008

    I know LOTS - right now off the top of my head I can think of 6 current elementary teachers that started in sped and moved into a gened classroom. I can't give you any other info other than I know it happens often. Good Luck with your decision.
     
  4. RainStorm

    RainStorm Phenom

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    Feb 23, 2008

    Special Education has a way of burning-out even the most enthusiastic teacher. The paperwork and endless meetings to discuss and develop the paperwork ... it is all overwhelming.

    Imagine the wonderful qualities you will bring to a general ed classroom. You have already demonstrated that you believe that ALL children can learn, and you know how to make reasonable accommodations. You know how to use various manipulatives and devices to help children learn. You know there is no "one-size-fits-all" method to teaching. You've had to have contact with parents under probably some of the most difficult of circumstances. You have to be skilled in behavior management.

    I think you would be very desirable as a general ed teacher because of these skills and qualities. ALL children need good teachers -- not just those with special needs.
     
  5. Noggin

    Noggin Rookie

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    Feb 23, 2008

    Keep in mind that you'll probably still have inclusion kids in your Gen Ed. classroom. So ARD's, paperwork and meetings for special needs do not necessarily end being in a Gen. Ed. class. Any mainstreamed SpEd child requires their Gen. Ed. teacher to attend those meetings and fill out that paperwork, too. So you wont completely move away from working with SpEd kids- just the ones deemed to have needs beyond what mainstreaming can handle. This is tricky since politics plays in here more than it should and often there are kids in the Gen. Ed. classroom that should really be in resource and, of course, there will also be kids that have never been tested for delays or disabilities even when it it evident they could benefit from SpEd support. Reasons for not being tested could be anything from parent denial to lack of school resources, but the result is the same- you have a child in a Gen. Ed. class that needs a level of support that you cannot provide with 30 other kiddos in the room.

    From my campus, roughly 1/3 of each class is inclusion. So each hour I have about 10-12 kids considered special needs at some level and 20 more that are not. Juggling that mix with class sizes over 30 is tough and, I'll admit, you get frustrated when called down to yet another ARD and saddled with tremendous paperwork for a student that shouldn't even be in your class and that you know you are not meeting the needs of. Differentiation becomes a huge need, too, since plenty of kids are done and bored while you are still trying hard to get the lower inclusion kids started somedays. You'll also spend a lot of time outside of class with the struggling inclusion kids so expect tutorials before and after school endlessly to keep them caught up (when I can get them to show up when they said they would or at all- Ugghh.)

    I'm actually a fan of Gen. Ed. inclusion. I do think they should have a chance at the least restrictive environment, and most of my inclusion kids are exactly where they should be. But they do generate a ton of paperwork for me both formally with ARD's, etc. and by me needing to make modified and adapted materials for them from the regular class materials. But unfortunately many of my inclusion kids are not where they should be. It would be wonderful if their placement was more clear-cut and this issue didn't exist. It would also be wonderful if identifying that they were in the wrong place was all that was needed to correct it, but that is not the case either.

    Bringing your SpEd skills to a Gen. Ed. classroom would certainly be a gain for them, but do consider that some of it will follow you. Just have to decide between SpEd full-time vs. SpEd part-time with much larger class sizes and random other Gen. Ed. headaches that have us screaming that we "just want to teach!", too. :lol:

    I know I definitely fall into the latter camp. Even with the challenges we do have on the Gen. Ed. side of things, I applaud anyone who works full time in SpEd. Tough calling. :)
     
  6. Ms. I

    Ms. I Maven

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    Feb 23, 2008

    I have the credentials to do both, but all I've ever wanted to do was special ed. Paperwork doesn't bother me. There's just certain things a general ed teacher has to do that I don't care to do:

    - yard duty (some special ed teachers have to do this too)
    - walking class to/from recess, lunch, buses, taking them to class at start of the day

    AND MAINLY...

    - having a whole big class of 30 kids all day long

    If I ever did have to teach general ed, I think 3rd grade is the best grade to teach.
     
  7. Annie227

    Annie227 Companion

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    Feb 24, 2008

    I taught elementary special ed. for two years and then moved to general ed. (4th grade first, now 3rd). The most difficult part was actually getting the district to grant the transfer, they did NOT want to let me out of special ed. I didn't mind the paperwork or meetings, but I didn't feel effective working with students for 30 minutes a day and then sending them back to a regular class (many of which I knew were being seated in the back of the room and ignored for the rest of the day). I felt I could make a bigger difference for special needs students in a gen. ed. setting.
    The biggest transition for me was the number of kids I was attending to all day (and the fact I couldn't just leave my aide in charge and run to the bathroom whenever I needed to go since I had no aide anymore). Last year I had 33 students, but I moved to a different state and so now I only have 17 (including several full-inclusion students). There's a part of me that keeps considering getting my special ed. credential and going back to that, but I really do enjoy 'general ed'. I feel like my 2 years in Special Ed. were the best preparation I could have ever had for teaching. I think that all teachers should be required to do both special and general ed for at least a year!
    One of the biggest perks is getting to feel like a valid member of the school. It's no longer a 'me vs. them' feeling.
     
  8. ChangeAgent

    ChangeAgent Comrade

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    Feb 24, 2008

    I am currently teaching high school learning support--some self-contained English and some co-teaching English and Math. I hate the paperwork. I love my content area, but feel that I cannot devote enough time to it, as the district only cares about the paperwork (and rightfully so--who wants to be sued).

    Noggin, although regular education teachers still must work with students with IEPs (especially in co-teaching situations) and sit in on IEP meetins, special education teachers do have to plan those meetings, write the reports, and keep deadlines met. With all the changes to special education guidelines, as well as changes that districts make during the year, its exhaustive.

    I do not plan to stay in special education very long. I have my certification in English and am working on an MA in English. I love the students (they are generally great), but I do not care at all for the legal papers.

    I understand that general education teachers usually have more students (which means more grading and such), but I think that trade-off is worth it. The work I do now, I feel, is pointless. The IEPs and such, that is. Of a 17-page document, only the adaptations are the needed page. Evaluation Reports are just another step. Most teachers are willing to accomodate (from what I have seen). I'd prefer to grade 80 essays--by doing that work, I at least can gauge my students and know where they stand. Endless IEPs and Evaluation Reports do very little to enhance the actual instruction of my students. Conferencing or e-mailing teachers is more effective to help my students succeed.

    Can you tell it's Sunday night? I dread going in on Mondays (once the day gets going, it gets better). I wouldn't mind going back to graduate school full-time.

    Anyway, newtothis2006, I complete empathize with your sitaution. I just want to teach, too. I have an phenomenal literature unit right now (excuse my lack of humility) that the students are reacting well to (and generally succeeding with), but it was only developed because I didn't touch an IEP for two-and-a-half weeks. Granted, it's my first year, so maybe next year will be better, but I believe my class schedule is changing, so . . .

    (*breathe*)
     
  9. teachersk

    teachersk Connoisseur

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    Feb 24, 2008

    I teach in a self-contained class. I have kids with moderate/severe disabilities. There ARE days where I wonder WHY I have so many more duties than the regular ed teachers. With all the new NCLB stuff in place, I have to have GRADE LEVEL objectives for my 46 IQ students. I have to create lesson plans that reflect grade level objectives, what they are, how I will implement them, etc. It's crazy. I have four kids in four different grade levels for which I am responsible for ALL academic subjects. That's five subjects times four kids = 20 lesson plans PER DAY! It's NUTS. I combine when I can...I know what I am doing and I know that my kids are learning, to sit and flip through the state objectives to find which one "matches" my cooking lesson, to me, is ridiculous. HOWEVER, I LOVE my class so much. Even though I'm the only teacher who would get "Teacher was re-directing student to get hands out of pants" or "teacher was helping student put clothes back on after meltdown" during my walkthrough observation data sheets, I still love it. I like that I can do "different" stuff with my kids (observe weather patterns via flying kites outside) or understand the importance of jobs and careers by picking up other teachers' recycling bins each day, etc. My class is very structured and we use every minute of the day for valuable instruction time (whether it's in social skills, academics, living skills, etc.) I don't think I could handle 25-30 kids in one room (I have four). I also don't think I could handle "teaching to the test" (which is what they do here). Unfortunately it's slowly turning in to ME having to teach to the modified test, but I still love my kids.

    That being said, Special Ed is not for everyone. People tell me every day "I don't know how you do it!" I rarely get a lunch break and never get a conference period (both of which are seemingly mandated by law). But, it doesn't bother me.

    I think that if your heart is not in it and you are overwhelmed by the paperwork (many are) -- you should definitely check into Regular Ed.
     
  10. Noggin

    Noggin Rookie

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    Feb 24, 2008


    If our inclusion classrooms were co-teaching situations, that would make things a lot easier. Unfortunately, they usually are not in reality. For me, I have 1/3 IEP students with no aides or support along with another 100 students and their parents a day. Really just an issue of 6 one vs. half a dozen of another for which side carries the heaviest load and definitely depends on the person.

    Newtothis,

    Both Gen Ed. and SpEd sides definitely have pros and cons, and your school climate, area and budget will make a big difference in how your Gen. Ed. classes actually look in your area. I noticed we teach the same ages in the same state so hopefully this info will be helpful to you. Good luck with your decision! :)
     
  11. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    Feb 25, 2008

    I started in General Ed, then moved to Special Ed (initially because of the staffing situation at my school). I spent most of last year, my first in Special Ed, trying to hold my head above water. Almost every day I discovered something else I didn't know. But, I knew that I would love it and this year I do. I am still overwhelmed by the workload most days, and there are still all of those things that I don't know yet, but I'm learning, and I know where to go for the answers.

    My biggest struggle is the attitude of some of the General Ed teachers toward Special Ed--teachers and students. I have been told that my job is too easy and that, "it must be nice to only have 6 students at the most." We all work hard--our jobs look very different and some don't understand that.
     
  12. teacheratheart

    teacheratheart Companion

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    Feb 25, 2008

    One of the best teachers in our district moved from sped to gen ed. She taught in a self contained ED classroom and loved it but when she switched districts they didn't have an ED position for her. So she ended up teaching 2nd grade. She has said she misses ED but she also enjoys gen ed and she's good at it. She is definitely one of the most requested teachers at the elementary and this is only her 2nd year here.

    I taught 2nd with her last year and then moved to resource. And I know that next year I will move back to gen ed. I love my resource students and I love teaching them, when I actually get to teach them. My paperwork is so overwhelming I rarely get to work with my students. My aide runs my classroom. She is a godsend!
     
  13. nancy sv

    nancy sv Rookie

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    Feb 26, 2008

    I started out in Special Ed, then went to General Ed, and now I'm back in Special Ed. I think there are pros and cons for both. In special ed, I don't like the paperwork, but it is nice to have smaller classes and to be forced to structure the class for immediate feedback - therefore no grading papers at night. In general ed, you've got bucketsful of kids in each class and you generally have to grade papers at night. Honestly, I think they are both about the same amount of work.
     
  14. Here2Learn

    Here2Learn Companion

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    Feb 27, 2008

    I was observing a SPED class one time and I asked the teacher what made her want to go into special ed. She said she was observing a class during college and she fell in love with the kids. Then, when she actually started working, she didn't like it because she spent all of her time doing paperwork, and never had time with the kids. Apparently, this is a common problem that needs to be addressed during college. She was telling me she was going to go back to school to teach general ed. How disappointing....
     

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