Ok, 2 seconds after my other thread: Going from special ed to gen ed?

Discussion in 'Job Seekers' started by waterfall, Apr 9, 2012.

  1. waterfall

    waterfall Maven

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    Apr 9, 2012

    After fishing around the application website for awhile, I found a link for "interviews scheduled" and found the position title! I was surprised to see it was a regular ed 3rd grade job (thank God I checked- I would have never been prepared for that one!) I would love, love, love to teach 3rd grade, but I haven't done classroom teaching since my student teaching (which was in 3rd grade). How do I "sell myself" as a classroom teacher when I've been doing sped for two years? Anything I should be prepared for as to concerns they might have for someone switching over?

    I think a couple of things from my current job would really help me in a classroom position: differentiation, documentation/data collection/RtI process, collaboration/communication, accommodations and modifications, and working with specialists. Anything else I should really focus on? Anything I could include in my portfolio that might focus on classroom teaching? I was thinking of bringing my student teaching evaluations- even though they're two years old at this point it's the only "proof" I really have that I did well in a gen ed position.

    Also, my references are all from my current school and in their letters wrote a lot about sped-specific things. I didn't tell them I was applying for classroom positions- I didn't even think I'd ever get an interview for one! Would it be appropriate to tell them I have this interview and ask them to really focus on just "teaching" things if someone calls for a reference rather than "sped" things?
     
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  3. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Apr 9, 2012

    In these days of shrinking funds, think of your value as a Gen Ed teacher with so much Special Ed experience!!!!!! Think of all the kids whose programs have been cut or cut back who can benefit from having a 3rd grade teacher with such extensive experience!!!!

    Make sure you have a cover letter or portfolio or something that bridges the gap!
     
  4. Xidous003

    Xidous003 Companion

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    I agree with Alice. It is sad to say, but a lot of general education teachers are a 'dime a dozen' so if they can get a gen. ed teacher and a sped. teacher for the price of one...then that helps a lot! It is all about how much a district can save in hiring one person.

    I have come to believe there are no longer 'high needs' areas as general education math and science positions usually receive 50-200 applicants and almost all sped positions receive about the same amount. There were some shortages a few years back, but when wind of it got out the shortages disappeared. Kind of like investing in Apple after (and not before) the iPad, iPhone, iPod...one must stay ahead of the curve....
     
  5. waterfall

    waterfall Maven

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    Apr 10, 2012

    Anyone else have any advice for this? I am trying to practice some sample question answers and I am having a really hard time. I'm sure they'll ask me why I'd want to switch over, and I have an answer, but I don't want to make it look like a)I've done a bad job in my sped position b)I didn't like my sped position or c)my sped position has nothing to do with what I'd be doing in gen ed. I feel like "between the lines" I've essentially said all of the above. Here is my "real answer"- any way to make this more "interview friendly?"

    My heart is really in instruction and as my principal will tell you, I'm a natural teacher. Many of my biggest strengths and things that are important to me as a teacher are hard to embrace in a special education program. Building a positive classroom community, using the workshop model, and inquiry-based instruction are all important to my teaching philosophy. In a special education program, I often feel that I am expected to teach a very scripted program that has everything planned out including what to say, what to do, and when to do it every day, or going into classrooms where the special ed teacher often ends up being a TA as the classroom teacher teaches. As a classroom teacher, I would be free to use the workshop model and add inquiry-based activities into my lessons. I also feel that since I have had both backgrounds, if I had a special ed co-teacher I would know how to really utilize that person in my classroom rather than having them only assist. While I enjoy interacting with my students and motivating the "low" students to succeed in my current position, I know that I would still get to work with these types of students in a general education classroom through inclusion.

    Then it's hard to tie that back into how my sped experience will help me in the classroom though- it is a little complicated because I do sometimes do workshop model in my current position, and want to show I have experience with it, but that's a little contrary to what I just said. The thing is I have some academic freedom now but the district is pushing hard for all of us to do only scripted programs or push-in instruction. So although I do have the experience planning and teaching the lessons, using the workshop model, and creating my own lessons now- I know in the future that would be something I'd be unable to do as a sped teacher.

    I feel like I'm rambling...hope some of that made sense to someone else!
     
  6. Xidous003

    Xidous003 Companion

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    Apr 11, 2012

    I totally understand your feelings on this one. I would be honest without being 'too honest' if that makes any sense :)

    My point being that I would emphasize your sped experience as a bonus to the gen position. What I mean is that you can make accommodations and modifications to benefit the entire class. Also, as a gen ed teacher you would be a perfect 'fit' to collaborate with a sped co-teacher since you have had that experience. In addition to teahing gen ed, you could assist with IEPs and with DIS services as needed.

    It may be a cliche but I have had at least two admins tell me 'if you can teach sped then you can teach most gen ed classrooms'...I paraphrased of course. Does this mean that sped teachers are superior to gen Ed teachers...of course not!!! I just get the feeling that your training in sped will more than prepare you to teach gen ed. I would continually emphasize your knowledge and skills as it comes to meeting the needs of ALL learners.
     
  7. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    I think it's all a matter of attitude for you. I think you need to go in there KNOWING that the past few years have made you a far stronger Gen Ed teacher than the competition. You know all about differentiation, since you've been doing it. You know the material, since you've been working with the kids on it. You know about testing, since you've been helping your kids prep for it....
     
  8. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

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    Apr 11, 2012

    As far as the workshop model goes, you could say that you even though you use a workshop model in your sped classroom, you are looking for the challenge of growing it in a general ed classroom.
     
  9. BB0211

    BB0211 Companion

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    Apr 11, 2012

    Yes! In my opinion, you are MORE qualified (on paper at least) than any other general ed teacher with your amount of experience. Differentiated Instruction and effective inclusion of students with special needs is not only a HUUGE focus right now, but is absolutely NECESSARY to be an impactful gen ed teacher. So many gen ed. teachers are missing this experience, preparation, and focus.

    You would be a DREAM to a principal right now with your training and experience.

    To bridge the gap between environments, I would share in your interview your reflections on how you know/think/feel your experience will apply and benefit your future students. Stress management of MORE students with varied abilities, look into how you will challenge your higher learners (I am sure different than what you are used to now) and think through procedures for each subject.

    PM me if you want to talk any of these ideas through...I am more than happy to offer my knowledge and experience.

    Best of luck!
     
  10. ciounoi

    ciounoi Cohort

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    Apr 11, 2012

    I'm going to bet you would be a great gen ed teacher. Think of all that scheduling and paperwork that special ed teachers have to do... if you've got that down pat, you'll have one major advantage in any gen ed classroom!

    Suggestion for you - I wouldn't put down special ed in any way if you're asked why you want to make a switch. I would emphasize it, instead. Don't mention the scripted programs and poor experiences with the special ed system (seriously, gen ed has that too), I would instead talk about how special ed has given you experiences with so many different students and how you feel that would be an asset to you in a gen ed position.

    Also, if they really want a reason for the switch, I might say something noncommital like "Trying to expand my horizons." ;-)
     
  11. Xidous003

    Xidous003 Companion

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    Apr 11, 2012

    I agree with ciounoi. I would not have your main reason being you want 'out' of special education. I would expand upon on wanting to try something different (for example, within secondary special education people switch the subjects they teach all the time).
     
  12. swansong1

    swansong1 Virtuoso

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    Apr 11, 2012

    I went from many years in SPED back to gen ed this year. One of the reasons the P hired me was because of my SPED experience. Since many districts are going to full inclusion, SPED teachers have a definite advantage over "just" gen ed teachers. Of course, it means that the hardest to deal with SPED children will be placed in your class...but, "it should be a breeze for you to work with those children"...my P said when she hired me.

    That being said...I'm going back to SPED next year! I guess I was really spoiled all those years having a wonderful assistant and running my classroom any way I wanted to without interference from a P with no SPED experience.
     
  13. waterfall

    waterfall Maven

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    Apr 11, 2012

    They didn't seem too concerned about me switching, which was good I guess. Overall I think it went really well. They talked to me for an hour and let me ask a lot of questions. It felt really relaxed and comfortable- they seemed really engaged with me and even laughed with me a couple of times. I stumbled over one or two questions, but overall I would say I did a pretty good job. I asked if I could share some of my data at the end and they seemed REALLY impressed with what I brought. I also heard the P say, "She was great!" as I closed the door :).

    Here comes the bad news: I asked what the next steps in the process would be, and was amazed to hear that it was to take that stupid gallup test! I can't believe it. I've never seen a school use that after they'd interviewed- only to "screen" applicants before choosing who to interview. I am horrible at that test- I've never been called by a district who used it and I've probably taken it over 100 times at this point. I was really pleased to see that it didn't seem like many districts in this specific area used it- I'm really hoping they're not all like this in that they do use it, but in a later stage of the game. I think that pretty much ruins any hope I have of being chosen- I guess I am hoping they will only use it to look for "really big red flags" and even if I don't score as high as some other candidates, they'll take my interview more into account. I won't hear anything until Monday or Tuesday of next week because they have to wait for all of the candidates to take the test.
     

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