I am really struggling this year. I have taught special ed for the last 11 years, teaching a self-contained autism room for the last 7. The kids are NOT the problem. I love them like my own children, love teaching them, have a good background in autism, know where to seek autism support and resources, and I think I am very good at my job. Definitely above average. I am a leader on my district's autism team, have created and provided trainings in the district and community, and have for the last 3 years co-directed a 5-week summer autism program for teenagers in my town. I just am starting to think that I cannot keep up this ridiculous pace. I cannot continue to do more and more every year with less and less. We just lost a para from our building to go to another building where the needs are supposedly even higher. No idea why they can't HIRE someone instead of rob Peter to pay Paul. I work an extra hour every morning, at least one extra hour every night, half my weekends, and half the time am forced to work through my prep because of situations involving basic safety of my students that I cannot cover with para support. I've basically had paras subs in my classroom every day since the school year started. The inconsistency is very challenging and I have a super hard classroom this year with 2 1:1 students who have major medical and behavioral support needs, who I can't put a sub with, so subs wind up "leading" the other 4 students, which quickly descends into chaos............ I know what should be happening in terms of providing quality, consistent instruction on IEP goals and objectives to my students with severe autism, and I know how to let some things go because I can't be superwoman. But this year I feel more than ever before that at best, I am baby-sitting. I am maintaining skills, not teaching new ones, and I don't think I can do it with the staffing ratio I have. I have brought this to the attention of my administrators several times over the years, and several times this year (I think they are sick of me) and their attitudes about it seem to be that we have to do the "best we can." It makes me insane because I know they would not accept this if we were talking about a regular ed classroom. It would NOT be ok to put on a movie for a regular first grade all day because they don't have a teacher in that room. Why is it OK for them to tell me to do it because I am short on adult support?! I am 33 years old. My husband and I desperately want a family. We are not rich, and can't live on one income, but we have a moderately healthy savings account and could frugally afford a little job searching time. Maybe this makes me weak, because I know many people do it, but I think I am coming to the conclusion that I do not want to live this life at work and to come home to a baby and husband and try to have gas left in the tank for them besides. I think I'm scared to let go, because this is what I've known, lived, breathed, and been passionate about for half of my life. I still have the passion for people with autism, but I am starting to realize that the system is so far beyond broken (at least here) that I alone can't fix it and maybe can't even hold part of the tent up anymore. I know I have a kick-butt classroom (or at least have in the years past...........not feeling like it this year because of circumstances beyond my control) but I have seen the classrooms my students will go to after they leave me and it breaks my heart. I also have tremendous feelings of guilt because I live in an area where there are not a lot of resources for people with severe disabilities, and I know that my classroom is a major point of stability for many of my students and their families. I am awake at 6:30 on Saturday morning with my stomach in knots thinking about possibly having to tell them at the end of this year that I'm not coming back. People who have struggled with this: how did it turn out for you? I don't know what to do.