Discussion in 'Special Education' started by teacher girl, Sep 2, 2011.
Sep 2, 2011
Which is better to teach? Which one do any of you recommend? for a first year teacher?
the age group that you would actually like to teach and would be good with.
Neither is "better". Each has their good points and not so good points. Elementary means getting to do all of the cutesy fun stuff you see online and in teacher stores. But younger kids in special ed tend to be less verbal, so it's hard to manage their behaviors, figure out why they're upset, etc.
High school is nice because the students are alot more independent and relatable. And high school is just an exciting time, with transition and all. But in high school you deal with attitude and lack of motivation.
It's all up to you and your teaching style and temperament to decide which is the best fit for you. I'm a new teacher and I teach middle school. It can be difficult sometimes, but I enjoy it. They're still young enough to be motivated by parties and prizes, but they have some independence and I don't have to do everything for them.
I like high school. I think you should go with the age group you feel most comfortable with.
Keep in mind: you'll be a first year teacher for 10 months. You'll be teaching that age group until you retire.
Don't go with what's easiest. Go with what's best for you, and where you'll be most effective.
Sep 3, 2011
Im taking major is Sped in Elementary (as of now im student), i think Sped in Elementary is the level where it is so hard, because in this level you will start to mold their personality, knowledge etc... In high school they already some basic skills so they can teaches well rather than in Elementary.
I think that, if you're going to do it well, it's all hard. Each age group and specialty brings its own challenges and rewards.
I see being a sped teacher through the lens of helping kids get to their next level of independence.
Sped elementary is a really important job. You are helping students lay the groundwork for their entire education and you are setting the bar for their self-esteem. Sped middle school teachers help their students navigate through some of their most monumental developmental changes and help them transition to being a big kid who is ready to take on high school. High school sped teachers help the students transition into the world outside of school. (I love teaching sped at the high school level because helping them transition into the "real" world is what I have a passion for.)
Like the others said, I would recommend you go with the age group you are comfortable with. Are you going into mild/moderate needs or moderate/severe needs? I would think in moderate/severe needs you're going to have the same issues across the board with kids that are severely disabled.
In mild/moderate for elementary, you have to do a lot more problem solving, data collecting, and work for RtI, meetings, etc. to decide if a student really does have a disability. You'll also be the one most likely telling parents that their child has a disability for the first time, which can be hard. Parents tend to go through a "grieving process." Many of my parents grew up in Mexico and don't have a background for american special ed, so it doesn't phase them as much. However, my dad is a special ed teacher too and he says most parents cry or get visibly upset at initial IEP meetings, even if they knew it was coming...hearing all of that at once is hard. Hopefully, by high school all the students will already be identified and you won't be doing much or any of this work. However, in elementary most kids don't realize they have a disability (again, if it is just an LD or something for mild/mod. needs) and still really like school and work hard. I deal with little to no attitude/behavior problems in my classrom. I'd imagine by high school, many students are so far behind that they're disillusioned with school, and of course you have the typical attidue and behavior that comes with working with high school students. I was actually just talking to someone at one of our fundraisers who said she used to teach elementary sped but moved to middle school, and hated it because it was a lot harder to see progress and the kids were already so far behind. I hadn't really thought of that before. Ultimately though, it comes down to what age you work best with and prefer.
I've been teaching primary special day (mild-moderate) for 8 years and am definitely getting burnt out big time. I sort of fell into it rather than sought it out. I'm good at it, it's an important job, but it's very hard. Unlike HS, there isn't a curriculum per se. I am supposed to use the district general ed materials, but often they just aren't appropriate for the specific needs of each child and I spend a great deal of time seeking out, buying, downloading things that will work for my kids. I have NO prep time. None. MS and HS will have at least 1 and often 2 prep periods daily. The parents are sometimes occasionally in denial or very hopeful that their child will "outgrow" the disability, as if I'm going to "fix" the child and have them all ready for general ed. I can not tell you how many IEPs I've been in where the parents start crying as we present data and assessment results. I hate that. It is so freakin' hard to get gen ed teachers to agree to let my kids mainstream into their classrooms. I have the same kids all day long, frequently for 3 years in a row (3 grade levels in my room). When they are so young the diagnosis isn't always accurate and you get kids who should not be placed in SDC because they always have to try the least restrictive environment first, which means you will get kids who are SED in your room and you get to deal with it w/o support while the administrators and psychs tell you to "collect data" meanwhile other kids are getting hurt and/or ignored while you "manage" the poor kid who is going to end up in a mental health setting, after they've spent a year in your room, first. It's not easy. I could go on (and on and on) about what sucks about the job, but I am trying not to be a whiner! It can be immensely rewarding but this year I'm just over it and really hopeful to move on to the HS setting next year.
I have a few parents like this too. It's hard. I feel like parents think that putting them on an IEP will "fix" everything, and in a couple years they won't have the disabillity anymore. To make matters worse, I felt a lot of people on our IEP team contributed to this last year. Our psych was always trying to get me to write goals that would "close the gap" and bring them up to grade level (or even above benchmark!) in just one year. I still don't understand that. If I thought the kid would be at or above grade level in just one year, I wouldn't be qualifying them for an IEP. Many kids were in interventions with me for almost a full year before our team could agree that the kid could be refferred for an IEP, so I don't know why they think that suddenly writing the IEP will make the student grow 3x faster than they were before with the exact same interventions. It's not a magic piece of paper! Also, when parents get upset, my P would try to soothe them by mentioning the one or two kids she's known that have gotten to 4th-5th-6th grade and not needed their IEP anymore, and then did totally fine in school. That's great, but those kids are the exception, not the rule. I don't think it's a good idea to act like getting the kid off the IEP is the goal, since this will happen rarely with academic IEPs and it definitely makes it seem like something is "wrong" with the child or like having a learning disability is this terrible awful thing. By high school, I feel like most parents would just be used to the process and IEPs and everything- it wouldn't be as big of a deal since this may be the 10th IEP they've gotten.
Sep 5, 2011
Think about the caseload too. If you're a teacher in a Special Day Class, you might just have 13 on your caseload. High school and middle school...probably 28, depending on your state.
I personally think elementary is harder with the behavior problems, basic skills, etc.
Good point, Miss Jessica. I typically have 11 students in my class. The most I've ever had was 14, the smallest class size has been around 8. There is definitely a lot less IEP writing and meeting scheduling at the elementary level in SDC at least. RS can have much larger case loads.
Caseload can vary, though, and be heavy even in elementary. At this moment, the day before school starts, I have 24 students on my caseload. The other Special Ed teacher has 15, but, because she is new, I will still have a fairly heavy involvement with 4 of those who have the most complex histories. I can almost guarantee that those numbers will go up by at least 5 each by early spring.
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