Need Advice-Frustrated and Overwhelmed

Discussion in 'Special Education' started by Luv2TeachInTX, Apr 21, 2013.

  1. Luv2TeachInTX

    Luv2TeachInTX Comrade

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    Apr 21, 2013

    Hi everyone, Im a first year SPED teacher and long time lurker on these forums. I would really appreciate some advice on how Im supposed to perform the miracles my campus expects. I teach Elementary Math Resource, Social Skills and am a case manager for 23 kids.

    When I first started the year, I was under the impression that students came to me to work on their IEPs and were taught grade-level work in their gened classes. Halfway through the year, I was told that they need to be taught both. If I have students who can't regroup when they add or subtract, don't know the value of money and can't tell time, how in the world am I supposed to teach them things like how to add fractions with unlike denominators, solve relationship tables, list factors of a number and lord knows what else in the 30 minutes that I see them??? Not to mention nearly all of them have difficulty in reading as well that severely impacts their comprehension of word problems.

    On top of that, we are horribly understaffed. We have one other SPED teacher aside from myself that teaches Resource Reading. I have a caseload of 23 and hers is 26. We do have paras, but they all they do is in-class support. We are on our own in our rooms.

    At one point in the day, I have three 5th graders who are extremely low and four younger kiddos- one 1st and one 2nd grader that are both MR (one of those is severely autistic on top of that and the other is a behavior problem), another 2nd grader who is very well behaved but extremely low and my last kiddo is ED, but on grade level. He's always yelling, making noises and refuses to do work most of the time.

    My question is-is it normal to have that many high needs kids at one time with no para to help? All but two of them need everything read to them. It's a nightmare to plan for and I'm so worried that they're not getting what they need because there is just not enough of me to go around.

    My other gripe is my caseload. I spend so much time case managing and going to/preparing for ARDs that it's virtually impossible to plan or get together materials for my Resource kids.

    If that wasn't bad enough, it's been an awful first year. For one thing, I really have no mentor. My mentor is a retired campus diag that's only on campus two days a week, and when she is there, she's busy testing, holding ARDs or typing reports. Then, my teammate is super busy and has no time to help either. I've spent this entire year virtually on my own. :(

    I'm so stressed and overwhelmed. Any advice would be appreciated more than you know.

    Thanks!
     
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  3. Megs114

    Megs114 Rookie

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    Apr 22, 2013

    Hi there! I feel your pain. I'm also a first year SPED teacher (I work for a specialized school for students with Autism). My class consists of 7 students (which is illegal because in NJ, intermediate classes are only supposed to go up to 6) and they are in 2nd, 3rd, and 4th grade. All of severe behavioral problems and I'm supposed to run my room like a typical classroom. Let's just say, it doesn't happen often. I also have a mentor who has a lot on her plate who can't really help me.

    I'm extremely overwhelmed but I have come to the realization that this just is not the place for me. I think there is a right fit for every teacher and maybe this just isn't the right fit for you. As hard as you work, as much as you do, it isn't enough and you feel like you barely have your head above water. If you feel like this about work, it's going to start affecting other aspects of your life (trust me, my husband didn't know what to do with me a couple of days this year lol).

    I would definitely start looking. I have and I feel so much better already knowing that this isn't the only place in the world for me. That i'm not stuck there. Until then, I would do the best you can. Hope this helps!
     
  4. mopar

    mopar Multitudinous

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    Apr 22, 2013

    Is there anyway to rearrange your schedule to not have all the students with high needs at one time? I would definitely look into that for next year.

    Next year, I would probably group my students a little bit more. Plan your interventions (what the students need) and then group your students by those instead of grades/when teachers want them pulled.

    Next, I would plan one time for each area of deficit at least 3 days a week (more if you can). Then plan one or two meetings for helping with general education work beyond IEP goals.
     
  5. Luv2TeachInTX

    Luv2TeachInTX Comrade

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    Apr 22, 2013

    Thanks for the advice you guys. Don't get me wrong, I love my job, but every other resource room I've worked in had paras to help out. Am I mistaken there?

    I have as many resource kids as some of the gened teachers ( I don't see them all at the same time,of course). But to have 19 kids on all different grade levels working on anywhere from 2-5 IEP goals plus the gened curriculum where I have to create/find on the net worksheets and tests that align with all of that is just insanity! On top of that, Im co-teaching two math classes!

    And our MR/ID kids need to be in either Life or Applied Skills and the ED kids need to be in Adaptive Behavior, not resource.

    I wish it were possible to change the schedule around, but at this point in the year it's not going to happen. I think next year (if Im still in SPED) we need to make our schedules and have the gened teachers accommodate us more so we can give the kids what they need.
     
  6. mopar

    mopar Multitudinous

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    Apr 22, 2013

    It is not uncommon for a resource teacher to pull a para to run a group (as long as the other children are covered with minutes).

    I would definitely work on rewriting the IEPs of the students who are misplaced.
     
  7. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    Apr 23, 2013

    Sadly, what you are experiencing is not completely uncommon.

    When it comes to teaching IEP goals and grade-level material..... I say shut your door and teach what you know those kids need to know. You are only one person, and you can't do it all. Give the kids the instruction they need to be successful in life, not the instruction they need to pass the test.

    Are you allowed to create or at least give input on para schedules? Inform your administrators of your neediest times of day and let them know that you need a para at those times. I do have paras supporting me in my room, but I have been in resource rooms that do not have paras before. Again, you can't work a miracle, so let it be known that you need support.

    Don't get out of sped just because of this experience! The first year is rough and challenging no matter how much support you get and/or how big your caseload is. Even if none of your circumstances change over time, things will get better simply because you've had more time to figure out what you're doing and build routines.

    Good luck!
     
  8. stepka

    stepka Comrade

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    Apr 23, 2013

    I can't help you with the caseload, which sounds ridiculously heavy, but I do have one little suggestion and that is to see what you can do with the paras while they are there and schedule your neediest times with them. Then use those paras! I was one for several years in sped and I can say that we were rarely used to our full capacity, even when the teachers were busy. It's not that we weren't willing but there were just times when pushing in would have felt pushy and if the teachers didn't say what they needed, it wasn't always obvious. Half the time they'd sit us off in a room with nothing to do or they'd put toileting on the schedule for 1st hour and then nothing else to do during the rest of that time. I became more proactive and found things to do but I know plenty who took advantage. No one ever asked us for any ideas of how to schedule our time better either--they just flipped a schedule at us and that was that.

    Another time I had a teacher who did have me teach the class half the time and I was fine with that, but I had little input into the lesson planning and she did everything last minute and there was little sequencing to this math course, so it was hard to teach b/c it was all over the place. I'd have been better off if I'd been the sub b/c at least then she would have left a lesson plan.

    Also, be nice to the TA's. When I had free time, I went in and helped the teachers I liked best. ;) So the short of it is, tell the paras what you need and you might get it.
     

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