Switching from gen. Ed to special Ed.

Discussion in 'Special Education' started by Jennifer Livergood, Aug 15, 2020.

  1. Jennifer Livergood

    Jennifer Livergood New Member

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    Aug 15, 2020

    I recently came across an opportunity to use my second certification, secondary special Ed at the school I already teach at. My problem is I have been sped certified for 8 years, but have remained a general education teacher. I am torn between doing what I have done for 11 years now, or switching to the sped teacher for our high school. I have no real experience in being the sped teacher, it would be a completely new experience for me.
    I feel uncomfortable or perhaps unconfident with this change but I would like to explore this, and make myself a more well rounded teacher in the process.

    Have any of you made the switch from general education to special education at the secondary level? If so, what advice do you have for my decision on this?
     
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  3. waterfall

    waterfall Virtuoso

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    Aug 16, 2020

    Not in secondary, but I have taught both gen ed and sped. Since you mention being "the sped teacher for your high school," do you mean you would be the only one? If so, that's pretty crazy. It must be an extremely small school?

    I would definitely talk to the person who used to be in the position at length about pros and cons and what the job is really like. Most gen ed teachers think my job is easier than theirs because I teach small groups. They don't know the half of it. I think it would also be very difficult for you having no experience and being the only sped teacher- who are you going to ask questions to/who is going to help you figure out the new job? Some of the elementary buildings in my district have only one teacher, but at least they can talk to teachers from other buildings. Around here at least, there is only one HS per district so you wouldn't even have that option.

    I would consider the following questions:
    - What do services look like in your building? Around here, most secondary services are "co-teaching." In that setting, what very often happens is that the gen ed teacher is teaching and the sped teacher is basically an aide- floating around the room and helping kids who raise hands, keeping kids on track behaviorally, etc. Is this okay with you?
    -Do you feel comfortable supporting students in all subject areas?
    -Are you detail oriented? You will have a lot of paperwork to do with a ton of little details to remember and do correctly every time, and deadlines are absolutely non-negotiable.
    -Is your plan to try this out for a year or two and then go back to your gen ed job? If so, I would rethink. It's often difficult to get out of sped once you're in it, since good sped teachers are harder to find.
    -Are test scores/student data part of your evaluation? If so, that makes sped an extremely challenging position to be successful in.
    -Consider that sped very often gets less respect than gen ed and it's very common for sped teachers to feel like "second class citizens" in their buildings. My current P works really hard to make sure things are equitable and that sped is never forgotten. She's the only one of 4 principals I've worked with that has done that, and many others in the building still view us as "less than" classroom teachers.
     
    bella84 likes this.
  4. Aug 16, 2020

    I have made the switch from general education to special education at the secondary level, It was difficult initially as you said, But not that difficult now, Infact its very easy for me to concentrate now.

    I choose to be in special education, as I realized after 5 years of general teaching, that my passion is special education, One thing that was not allowing me to switch was my lack of confidence, But later it turned out to be sp easy for me.

    So, I would advice you to go ahead, really if you feel that you are good at it.
     
  5. Jennifer Livergood

    Jennifer Livergood New Member

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    Aug 16, 2020

    I would be one of two sped teachers in the high school, so I will not be alone, I will be supported. However the other teachers will have their own caseloads.
    Thank you for your feedback.
     
  6. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    Aug 16, 2020

    I've moved from elementary special education (3 years) to elementary general ed (7 years) to secondary special education (starting year 2). I seriously regret it. I wanted to move to secondary, so I took the job in front of me, but I wish I had waited for a general education job. I've spent my summer taking a bunch of Praxis tests to maximize my chances of moving to general education for next year.
     
  7. RainStorm

    RainStorm Phenom

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    Aug 16, 2020

    In my experience, once you make the move to sped, you never get the chance to go back. They pass-over Sped teachers when they try for gen ed positions, because it is so hard to replace speds. If you do this, make sure you are willing to do it for the rest of your career. Best wishes.
     
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  8. vickilyn

    vickilyn Multitudinous

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    Aug 18, 2020

    Couldn't have said it better, RainStorm. If you do this, make sure you are willing to do it for the rest of your career. Some words bear repeating - they are vital to everything that will occur going forward. Best wishes and good luck going forward.
     
  9. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    Aug 19, 2020

    I made the switch both ways at the middle school level (grades 6 - 8 in a K-8 school). I started as general ed, switched to Special Ed, then back to general ed when half of our students and staff moved to a new building. My experience helps me to see "both sides" more clearly; I know what is involved in both positions and can approach my students with that dual lens. Having a strong support system and a mentor, either at your school or elsewhere, will be key.
     
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