Is Special Ed the right career path for me?

Discussion in 'Special Education' started by Mike19, Mar 10, 2017.

  1. Mike19

    Mike19 Rookie

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    Mar 10, 2017

    Hello everyone, I am a freshman college student at a junior college in Los Angeles.

    Just a few months ago I posted to the Elementary Education board asking for information and advice. I've learned a lot about the teaching profession since then, and I've found myself on the fence between regular elementary teaching, and special ed teaching.

    I wanted to just ask what special ed teaching is like (vaguely), and what exactly would be considered the "best" educational path towards this goal?

    I do have firsthand experience in this setting as a student actually (I grew up with mild autism and briefly attended a private special ed school before going back to public school) and admittedly I really find myself drawn to giving back and doing something meaningful like this. And sometimes I think I'd personally enjoy it better than teaching general ed.

    So yeah, to cut a long story short, anything you think I should know in my decision making would be very appreciated. :)
     
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  3. Special-t

    Special-t Enthusiast

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    Mar 11, 2017

    I suggest you do some observations at different grade levels and different SPED levels (mild moderate/moderate severe).
     
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  4. vickilyn

    vickilyn Magnifico

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    Mar 12, 2017

    Please don't take this the wrong way, but my experience with even "mild autism" can make it hard to be a "people person", despite the intelligence level and capabilities to do the course work. My son had a student in his courses while in college who could intellectually do the work, while failing in the ability to connect or interact with the students. My heart broke for this student who was spending all this time and effort to acquire a degree, when he was almost certainly going to struggle to connect with the hiring committees enough to be offered a job.

    Keep in mind that I have no idea of what you mean by "mild autism". Being on the autism spectrum can mean many things. I have known a surgeon who I am certain was on the spectrum. He was brilliant, just who you wanted in the OR, but he totally lacked bedside manner. So the question I had to decide between skill vs personality. In the case of a surgeon, skill really mattered. Skill would matter as a teacher, but personality/able to connect would be important too.

    You are at the beginning of your journey. There is no rush to declare the track you will need to take. In fact, in many/most cases, teachers gain their degree in education, then study SPED in grad school. I don't know as much about Los Angeles, since I am in NJ, but hopefully others will chime in on what course of study would give you the best chance of finding a job after graduation. I wish you the best.
     
  5. waterfall

    waterfall Maven

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    Mar 12, 2017

    What do you feel like you would enjoy more about SPED than gen ed? What area of SPED are you wanting to go into- severe disabilities, mild disabilities, etc.? I second what special-t advised about spending some time observing and talking to SPED teachers in your area. Keep in mind that there is an extremely high turnover rate/burnout rate in SPED and there is a reason for that. With most of the people that I know, that turnover/burnout rate has nothing to do with the actual students with disabilities.

    As far as college programs, you need to see what's offered in your area. In my home state (where I went to school) dual certification programs in undergrad were very common. I did a dual certification program in elementary ed and SPED. It was a very course-heavy program and we needed to start taking education classes immediately freshman year in order to finish on time. In my current state, that's very uncommon and most people have to get an MA to get their degree in SPED as it's not often offered as a program in undergrad.
     
  6. Mike19

    Mike19 Rookie

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    Mar 15, 2017

    Oh no, I'm not offended at all - I completely understand what you're getting at. I was diagnosed with what was Asperger's syndrome when I was 5 (to my knowledge that label doesn't exist anymore in the realm of psychology), and I have done a lot of soul-searching on whether an extroverted type job would fit me. And to be honest I'm still searching and feeling out what career would be best for me - I really do tremendously appreciate your concern. I think it's mainly little things now (most of the major symptoms I've sort of "grown out of"), and I do genuinely love working with people (especially kids) despite it.

    Like I said, I don't take it personally, but I will definitely take it with more than just a grain of salt. Thank you for your best wishes. :)
     
  7. Mike19

    Mike19 Rookie

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    Mar 15, 2017

    Right - will definitely look at opportunities in my area. Thank you!
     
  8. Mike19

    Mike19 Rookie

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    Mar 15, 2017

    Well, my choice would to get a credential for mild/moderate. I think mainly what I like about the job is helping people overcome their disabilities and be able to learn and grow. I would love to be a regular teacher, but that just seems like an added bonus. Yeah, I realize that might be a rosy picture of what it's like, and yeah it's a possibly I'd burn out. I did some research on education paths and found that a university close to me (CSULB) has a dual credential for undergrad. That may be the be best option.

    Thanks to all three of you, I really do appreciate your taking time to respond, and it really does help a freshman on the journey on figuring out his path! :)
     
  9. FourSquare

    FourSquare Fanatic

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    Mar 29, 2017

    Absolutely get both credentials. I was a general elementary teacher first, and I transitioned into middle school special education. I'm not sure it's a job you can genuinely do well for 30 years. It'd be nice to switch back and forth every few years. The stress is incredible. You are working with the lowest performing students all day every day with incessant paperwork constantly hanging over your head. You will also need to manage relationships with dozens of people and their varying expectations. There are many many rewards too, but I'd be doing you a disservice if I didn't keep it real.
     

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