My view on SPED, long time since I've posted.

Discussion in 'Special Education' started by pete2770, Dec 5, 2014.

  1. pete2770

    pete2770 Comrade

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    Dec 5, 2014

    I have been a member of these boards since I wanted to be a teacher. Somehow...I just happened to recall what my username was.

    SPED, let's talk about it. I don't know about other states, but in Minnesota it is a stinky pile of doodoo.

    Are you thinking about going into sped? let me tell you how your life is going to be.

    Your caseload is going to be too large to meaningfully manage (aka actually treat the students how they should be treated to make educational gains), I'm literally pushing over 25 kids on my caseload. Manageable? Think about this...if you are doing adequate work, and you are a genius, evals take you 3+ hours (at 25 kids you'll have 6+ a year with new referrals), IEPs take you 1-2 hours, then all of this has the 1 (or 2 if the parents want it) hours of meetings...not to mention your needy parents/kiddos that can literally request meetings non-stop (I have one kid that I've had 15 hours worth of meetings for from September through November). Don't forget you have to actually teach kids besides this.

    25 kids? Did I mention that you have to data monitor and progress report? You get to escape, if you write it in the IEP, one set of data reports per student (4 per year REMEMBER ONE ANNUAL IEP MEETING) that will take you 10 to 20 minutes per student, not to mention the recording time if it's not something that's quickly measurable.

    You know that SPED has a lot of paperwork, right? Well guess what...in my first year I was lucky enough to have the Minnesota Department of Education review all of my paperwork on a particular student due to a formal complaint. Luckily, the complaint wasn't directed at me, and all of my paperwork was spot on..but guess what, I had to take not one, but TWO days to answer the State's questions for this particular student. I also had to plan sub days and have 3+ all day meetings to discuss educational programming.

    Are you working with students that have EBD? Prepare to have no one understand why they have less "consequences" than other students. Even though I've seen a particular student make enormous gains in willingness to try and complete work, she is disrespectful and defiant to staff in *name random setting* because of this, I have to convince the guardians that homebound/reduced school time is the better setting for her. (No one you work with outside of sped seems to have a backbone for any back talk from students...even though these kids literally have biological tendencies to be defiant.)

    Special education is horrible.

    The only thing that keeps me around is the money. I know people say bla, bla bla, teaching and money, I don't know what states they live in, but as a second year teacher between homebound, base salary, QCOMP bonuses, etc. I made over 70k this year. I would quit in a heartbeat if the pay was any less, and I know Minnesota is one of the top ten compensated states pay wise. I sure wouldn't do this job for any less.

    That last paragraph, don't let it motivate you. SPED is horrible, truly.

    Here is my suggestion to improve sped: No paperwork AT ALL except when there is a compliance complaint filed by a parent, in that case match the paperwork to what is currently required.

    P.S. If you are working with EBD students that require holds, get ready to document, document, document. The first time you don't think a hold is important, or you forget to document who did what, you'll know what stress is.
     
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  3. bros

    bros Phenom

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    Dec 5, 2014

    The experience of a special education teacher varies state-to-state and district-to-district.

    Also, having no paperwork required unless a complaint is filed would sort of completely and utterly defeat the point of paperwork - the district can just say "nuh uh we did this!" and the parents can just say "well my child told me x, y, and z. Where's the proof?"

    Isn't it sort of a given that you always document when you use restraint techniques on a student? I know one of my professors told the class about when she worked in a county-run school for students with autism - they had to call Child Protective Services every time they used restraint techniques and had to fill out paperwork by the end of the day - it was the policy of that school at the time to cover the teachers (and the school) from every angle imaginable. They would also take pictures of the student after the restraining ceased.
     
  4. TeacherNY

    TeacherNY Maven

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    I guess I can't relate. My school is a special ed school so we have very small classes (6 kids 2-3 aides). Paper work is limited to behavior data which is only a checklist daily and goal data taken a few times a week. Quarterly information studies on how they are progressing. Lesson plans. yearly IEP meetings. Occasional meetings if something important comes up that can't be put off due to severe behavior or other issues. That's about it. I don't have too many students so it's unmanageable.
     
  5. LouiseB

    LouiseB Cohort

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    Dec 5, 2014

    I have 20 on my caseload while teaching classes of 5 or 6 each period. I'm responsible for teaching a full load as well as monitoring those who are in the regular classroom. Yes, it is very difficult. I try to have a relationship with all students on my caseload so I can advise them and also have them believe that I care about them. It is easy for those that I see every day but for those that are in regular ed, I have difficulty finding the time to get to know them.

    There are several students who are in the SAT process at this time which means that my caseload would rise to above 20 students. I have even had over 30 on my caseload which meant that I certainly did not give the attention needed.

    I don't think that anyone realizes what all goes on until you are the one doing it. (I believe that for any position.) I definitely feel like I'm not helping the regular teachers as much as I would like because I'm "stuck" in my classroom all day. I can't be the resource I would like to be.

    I do think it is important to realize that as a sped teacher there is no limit on your caseload (at least in my state.) It will all depend on how your administration views sped issues as to how much help you get.
     
  6. waterfall

    waterfall Virtuoso

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    70k a year? I'm moving to Minnesota! I'm sorry to hear that things didn't turn out the way you planned. I've taught gen ed too and I honestly would say they're both the same amount of work. I find that my actual school days are more stressful/busy as a sped teacher (despite how "easy" people think small groups are), but I had a lot more work to do outside contract hours as a gen ed teacher. Honestly, I don't spend that much time on paperwork. I spent more time grading in gen ed than I do on paperwork in sped. I definitely feel that I am not able to meet needs as well as I should in sped, but I had the same exact feeling in gen ed. I will say though that there is no amount of money that would make me want to work in an EBD classroom. Literally, if they offered to quadruple my salary I still wouldn't even take a second to consider the possibility. I have all the patience in the world for low academic skills but severe behaviors really get under my skin. I can't imagine dealing with nothing but severe behaviors all day long. My "nice/well behaved" kids are what keep me going, and it's not like my behavior problem students are anything like what you would experience in an EBD program.
     
  7. FourSquare

    FourSquare Fanatic

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    Dec 5, 2014

    Meh, to each his own. I taught gen ed before I taught SPED. Teaching in general sucks sometimes no matter what the context. SPED can be particularly difficult with caseloads, paperwork etc., but I wouldn't give up the relationships I get to build with the most needy students. Could I teach the h3ll out of some 7th grade Reading? Definitely. But I wouldn't be able to emotionally manage 100+ students. Also, somebody needs to care about the 12 year olds that can't read. They need an advocate.
     
  8. 16lp

    16lp Rookie

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    I'm doing all that for exactly half of what you made. Depressing.
     
  9. swansong1

    swansong1 Virtuoso

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    Dec 6, 2014

    My experiences mimics waterfall's. There was never a limit on my case load and some years I had more than 40 children in my self contained classroom. I did have EDB students, but we were able to rapidly place the more severe children in a special school.

    The saving grace for me was my wonderful assistant. She could completely run the class when I had meetings or had to catch up on paperwork.

    We also instituted online IEP's. That saved tons of time because I just had to cut and paste most information. I could complete an IEP an 1/2 hour.

    I hope your experience doesn't completely turn you off on SPED. The right situation can be extremely rewarding.
     
  10. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    Pete, my experience has been similar to yours - but with less income. That's why I got out.

    Waterfall, I do have to agree with you that, now that I'm in general ed, I still feel like I can't meet the needs of my students. I differ, though, in that I bring much, much less work home from the general ed setting. If I do bring work home, it's all about lesson planning and grading. In my opinion that's much more "enjoyable" work to bring home than writing IEPs, referral reports, and evaluation reports. At least I get to do lesson planning now. Back when I was bringing all of those reports home, the lesson planning happened pretty much on the spot. The students walked in for their group, and I pulled something off the shelf to occupy our 30-60 minutes together...and that was if I was the person who got to teach them that day. More than half the time, my paras would do the teaching because I had to go sit in some meeting or take care of a behavior incident. I hated it and felt like a failure as a teacher, but at least I was getting the legal (paperwork) part of the job done. It just wasn't worth it, in my book.

    I'm sure there are schools out there that have a manageable setup for sped teachers. In fact, I know there are. I student taught in a place much better than where I was the actual teacher. I just haven't been able to find the right fit for me yet.
     
  11. ecteach

    ecteach Devotee

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    Dec 7, 2014

    70k.....try doing all of this for $36,500.

    I agree with a lot of what you said. I LOVE the kids. I LOVE the population. I hate the "extras" that come with the job.

    Edited to say: Another thing I hate is technically having two bosses. The principal, and the sped director. They never agree, which leaves all of us in a state of limbo constantly.
     
  12. LouiseB

    LouiseB Cohort

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    ecteach, I agree about the principal and sped director. The ones I have don't disagree but the principal doesn't understand sped so that can make it difficult.
     
  13. waterfall

    waterfall Virtuoso

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    Funny, I felt the exact opposite. I found grading papers to be very tedious. We were required to give a reading curriculum test at the end of each week, and every week it would take about 3 hours to grade those tests. I at least feel like writing IEPs/eval reports is somewhat more mentally challenging/stimulating, and I enjoy that much more than marking answers. I find that I lesson plan about the same. I do have one day a week where my para teaches and I run meetings/test kids/take data, but I don't mind- I am grateful to have the day to get everything done, and it kind of breaks up the week for me.
     
  14. shoebottom

    shoebottom Companion

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    Dec 8, 2014

    After being moved to high school this year I have discovered that students who are in 9th grade and read between a 2.0 and 5.7 reading level are being made to the state test (English, Algebra and Biology) and sit in classes that they absolutely can not understand or remotely grasp the concept of the information being taught. It breaks my heart that they cry daily because they feel stupid and are so frustrated with themselves because they can't "get it". I am not allowed to modify how I believe would most benefit the students because the teachers there have always done things the way they are now. I don't agree with being able to give them certain accommodations on the PARCC test that I can't give everyday in the classroom.

    I have been researching trying to find a program that is common core based to determine a true reading level based on materiel that they are being required to read in class. Right now we use a program called Moby Max and it is a program for k-8th grade and we need an program for 9-12. I also believe that we need to be teaching students who are on the certificate program how to pass the GED test not how to take junk classes that do nothing for them but make them struggle for no good reason.

    I do hate having to document every email, text, phone and meeting between myself, the student, their parent, other sped teachers and the general ed teachers. I swear sometimes I feel like all I do is make notes and take notes to document later.
     
  15. MsNobody

    MsNobody New Member

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    I agree with you... there are many things wrong with the school system in general, including special ed. I am dreaming of starting my own private school, where I can focus more on TEACHING and helping kids to become curious and enjoy learning (I feel that teaching is useless if the students grow to hate learning and never try to discover anything for themselves unless a teacher is forcing them to!) I made a website about my idea... you can find the link to it in my profile. I'd love to hear what you think of it!
     
  16. Emily Bronte

    Emily Bronte Groupie

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    Jan 14, 2015

    Teaching has its pluses and minuses.
     

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