Special educators starting at gen ed or special ed?

Discussion in 'Special Education' started by MissPapa, May 22, 2012.

  1. MissPapa

    MissPapa Comrade

    Joined:
    May 21, 2012
    Messages:
    375
    Likes Received:
    0

    May 22, 2012

    Hello, so I am new here and I'd like to say that I am currently a graduate student studying childhood special education. My question is, where did any of you start, in general ed or special ed? I've heard a lot of teachers certified in special ed want to start off in general ed first because it's "easier" (I think it's challenging either way, but that's just me). Although, one ICT class I observed, the special educator started in self contained. I myself am still exploring how I'd want to start, maybe I'm open to how I start.

    What's your story? :)
     
  2.  
  3. mopar

    mopar Multitudinous

    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2010
    Messages:
    10,924
    Likes Received:
    0

    May 22, 2012

    Welcome!

    Do you mean starting as a resource teacher or starting as a regular education teacher?
     
  4. MissPapa

    MissPapa Comrade

    Joined:
    May 21, 2012
    Messages:
    375
    Likes Received:
    0

    May 22, 2012

    What I meant was, did you start as a general education teacher (a regular teacher with a few students with IEPs), or a teacher that teaches most or all special ed students (self-contained/ICT/Resource room?) Hope I made it clearer :)
     
  5. Special-t

    Special-t Enthusiast

    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2008
    Messages:
    2,019
    Likes Received:
    19

    May 22, 2012

    In my district we have many Gen ed elementary teachers who have gone into special ed because of layoffs. I have heard it's a very difficult transition to make. Probably because special-education was not their first choice. But I'm sure their experience as general education teachers is a plus when teaching special education.

    I started out long-term subbing in general education and I think that experience has made me a better special education teacher.

    From what I have seen, teaching general education is not necessarily easier than special-education. Both are very challenging and very rewarding.
     
  6. waterfall

    waterfall Maven

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2011
    Messages:
    5,961
    Likes Received:
    834

    May 22, 2012

    I did almost all of my student teaching and field experiences in gen ed, and then started in sped for my first job. I am certified in both but really wanted gen ed b/c I feel you get to actually teach a lot more that way. However, with the job market I could only find a job in sped. Luckily it ended up being a pull-out set up where I still get to do a lot of teaching. I think my background as a gen ed teacher helped me a lot b/c I had so much actual teaching experience, which I'm not sure other sped-only student teachers would get, depending on their set up. My ST school was full inclusion, so had I not had the gen ed experience, I would have had no experience actually teaching prior to getting this job. I also understand what it's really like to be a classroom teacher, which I feel that many of my sped-only counterparts do not. This really helps a lot with collaboration and building positive relationships with gen ed staff. Not that this is true of everyone, but some sped staff that I work with seem to think that gen ed is really easy and they're always trying to pile more work on the gen ed teacher (pushing more and more RtI responsibility on the classroom teacher, etc.) because they just don't know what it's like to be with 30 kids all day.

    Next year I am happily moving back to gen ed, but think my sped experience will be very valuable in that setting too. Not only will I be a little more knowledgeable on working with some of the really low kids, but I'll also have that background which I think will make me collaborate better with sped staff, because I understand what their job is really like as well. I think everyone should have experience with both!

    I don't think gen ed is easier- in many settings, I actually think it's harder, especially if you compare a full inclusion sped teacher with a gen ed teacher. One of my friends right out of college only looked for sped jobs b/c she was only working for a year (then she was taking several years off, long story) and didn't want to have to do all the work in gen ed only to leave the next year. I think some things about my job will be harder next year, and some things will be easier. For example, I'm thrilled to only be teaching only one lesson of each subject (I currently plan for 7 reading lessons a day, 3 math lessons a day, and 2 writing lessons per day) and be done with the constant meetings. However, I think having a whole class of 20-30 kids FT will be a big adjustment.
     
  7. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2005
    Messages:
    13,982
    Likes Received:
    1,796

    May 23, 2012

    I taught "general ed" for about 6 years before I made the move to Special Ed. The move wasn't necessarily my choice; I wanted to stay at my school and I didn't want to teach grade 1, so Special Ed it was (I had my qualifications). Now, it seems as though I may be transitioning out of Special Ed (again, not necessarily my choice).

    I think that the speculation that one is easier than the other is dangerous for our profession--we all work hard, just in different ways.
     
  8. MissPapa

    MissPapa Comrade

    Joined:
    May 21, 2012
    Messages:
    375
    Likes Received:
    0

    May 23, 2012

    Yea special ed is needed a lot, hence one of the reasons why I'm studying it. Hopefully after school I can find a job. I will be certified in both as well because I have to take the gen Ed multi-subject test BEFORE I take the special Ed test. I guess wherever I end up in according to our lovely job market.
     
  9. mopar

    mopar Multitudinous

    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2010
    Messages:
    10,924
    Likes Received:
    0

    May 23, 2012

    I started out in special education and made the switch to regular education after a few years. I can definitely say that it is not easier.
     
  10. Mellz Bellz

    Mellz Bellz Comrade

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2011
    Messages:
    374
    Likes Received:
    0

    May 23, 2012

    I am certified in both and have subbed for three years before I began teaching. I began teaching in Special Ed because it was much easier to find a job in than general ed. I am not entirely sure if I'll stay here in Sp Ed. It is stressful at times and there is statistically a higher burnout rate in Sp Ed. I don't see a possible move into general ed though for another few years. I'm just praying to stay at the same school and grade for two years in a row.

    I don't think one is necessarily harder than the other, but it is different and they both have their stressful demmands. The best teachers are those who have been on both sides of the fence and understand what it's like.
     
  11. MissPapa

    MissPapa Comrade

    Joined:
    May 21, 2012
    Messages:
    375
    Likes Received:
    0

    May 23, 2012

    Did you go to school for special education, or did you just take the special ed certification test?

    I've been told by that special educator in the ICT class that both have their challenges in different ways, one's not easier than the other. And from the looks of it, chances are I'll probably end up in a special ed classroom. I'm willing to try it first rather than starting in general ed, being that it is always needed and it's experience right there. I was going to apply to grad school for gen ed, but was stopped and was told to think about specializing in something the education system needs. I was told Math and Special Ed were greatly needed.

    I'm very patient with kids, I just hope it says that way once I work with them.
     
  12. Mellz Bellz

    Mellz Bellz Comrade

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2011
    Messages:
    374
    Likes Received:
    0

    May 23, 2012

     
  13. Bored of Ed

    Bored of Ed Enthusiast

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2006
    Messages:
    2,230
    Likes Received:
    1

    May 24, 2012

    I got dual certification from the beginning but have been working only in special ed. There is no demand for general ed in my area, they're already all staffed up.
     
  14. katfzl

    katfzl Rookie

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2011
    Messages:
    62
    Likes Received:
    0

    May 27, 2012

    I am certified in gen ed and sped, and student taught in both areas and now work as a sped teacher (LD). I did not like my student teaching experience as a gen ed teacher, and have no desire to do it! I personally like sped, and it is where I will stay!
     
  15. MissPapa

    MissPapa Comrade

    Joined:
    May 21, 2012
    Messages:
    375
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jun 4, 2012

    Mellz Bellz - I'm in Brooklyn.

    Bored of Ed - Gen ed is very tough to get into, because people probably think it's "easier", and therefore it gets filled up easily. The special ed program at Brooklyn College is small, I'm with almost the same classmates every class! Quite funny, we all had to go back for summer classes and we were all like "Hi! It's been a while!" lol

    katfzl - What was wrong with gen ed? What kind of class do you teach? Inclusion, self-contained, or resource? I like the small self-contained classes.
     
  16. teacherintexas

    teacherintexas Maven

    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2005
    Messages:
    5,279
    Likes Received:
    748

    Jun 4, 2012

    Around here, I have friends who are going into sped because they think it's easier.

    I think it is all about perspective. If you are teaching well, you should be working hard regardless.
     
  17. newtoclass

    newtoclass Rookie

    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2010
    Messages:
    17
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jun 4, 2012

    I'm certified to teach EC-4 as well as Special Education all levels. I think that there is a misconception that one is easier than the other. Like another poster stated if you are doing your job correctly than teaching shouldn't be "a piece of cake."
    Depending upon your caseload, the type of classes that you teach (i.e. Resource/Content Mastery/Inclusion), the severity of the student's disabilities, and your student's behaviors, Special Ed. can be very draining.
    Most of my student teaching training was in the general education setting. However, I've always been interested in Special Education and I also knew that having that certification would put me in a better position to obtain a job.
     
  18. MissPapa

    MissPapa Comrade

    Joined:
    May 21, 2012
    Messages:
    375
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jun 4, 2012

    Face it, neither side is easy. There will always be challenges no matter what.

    As someone who was observing with occasional 1-to-1 for my school field hours, I definitely learned that special ed can be tiring if you're trying to work with a type of challenge you're trying to go around that just won't let the child learn or behave. Once I was teaching a student who was LD long division and it was a big challenge that entire period. So yea, tiring.

    Every school I went to (back when I was seeking a nomination), when I told them I was going to school for special ed, the people in the office was like "that's the way to go". My friend who works as a paraprofessional, she told me that the staff is way friendlier to teachers with special ed certification than with gen ed. So having a special ed certification is definitely beneficial. But you must be someone with a ton of patience.
     
  19. MissPapa

    MissPapa Comrade

    Joined:
    May 21, 2012
    Messages:
    375
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jun 4, 2012

    teacherintexas - That is the first time I ever heard people saying special ed is easier. I agree it is about perspective. To me, it's about managing a classroom effectively and having a flexible mind when it comes to how to teach students when they have problems getting something as well as maintaining positive behaviors. I plan to explore more of classroom management when I do my thesis for my second year.
     
  20. Bored of Ed

    Bored of Ed Enthusiast

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2006
    Messages:
    2,230
    Likes Received:
    1

    Jun 4, 2012

    I think they both have challenges; bear in mind that general ed teachers often have both diagnosed and undiagnosed kids with special needs in their classes too, and they have to meet their needs as well as their average and above average kids all at once. You'll never catch me calling special ed easy but the above was one of the factors in my choosing it. I can target my students' needs more directly, and there's less pressure in certain ways (if my kids don't excel on the state tests, I don't get much blame, they understand that we started at a disadvantage...) though in other ways it has a double dose of pressure, frustration, and such. And in some ways less rewarding; depending what kind of sped you teach you can have much fewer of those exciting lightbulb moments. You can argue that each one is major and heartwarming and whatever, but it's gotta be easier waking up in the morning when you could have a lightbulb go on in your classroom every day rather than just a few unexpected times per year.
     

Share This Page

Members Online Now

  1. CaliforniaRPCV,
  2. YoungTeacherGuy,
  3. miss-m,
  4. vickilyn
Total: 590 (members: 5, guests: 571, robots: 14)
test