Tell me your story.....

Discussion in 'Special Education' started by ecteach, Nov 28, 2014.

  1. ecteach

    ecteach Devotee

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    Nov 28, 2014

    How did you choose special education?
    My story-I was in college for a totally different major. My aunt was a secretary at a group home. I decided to work there one summer so I didn't have to work at Wendy's. After that summer I changed my major to elementary ed with a minor in special ed (the only option). I worked at the group home for 3 years before I graduated. If I never worked there I know for a fact my life would have ended up a lot different.

    I am always interested in hearing other stories.
     
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  3. hatima

    hatima Devotee

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    Nov 28, 2014

    I always wanted to be a teacher. School was fun for me. I loved reading and homework. Yes. I'm that geek that LOVED homework. I struggled with math. I had a fifth grade teacher who told the class (after finding out all the class received some sort of federal assistance), "Your parents are all worthless lazy scabs on society. The most any of you can hope to see is the inside of a 4 by 6 cell!" I knew I had to prove her wrong. In fifth grade I vowed to never be as vile as that woman. My parents worked seven days a week and worked hard. I know teachers can scar children or help them. I want to help them. I still loved school after this teacher. I couldn't wait to prove her wrong.

    My sister was in special education by the time she was in fifth grade. She never had a teacher that cared. He sped teachers said mean things to her and her classmates all the time. Some examples, "You guys aren't smart enough for this." "You can't do this work anyway." Then they'd let the kids talk or watch a movie. I though all special education was like that. So when I entered the college of education in undergrad school the enrollment officer knew about my sister and told me "You should go special education. You have good patience and will do well there." I naturally said, "No." When I began subbing after getting my BSED in elem ed. I began subbing, often in special education.

    I decided I wanted my masters in either early childhood or special education. I talked to teachers and principals who felt special education would be a good match for me. I love it. I'm on my second year teaching special education. I love it. Thanks to my subbing I see not all special education teachers are as cold and careless as my sister's teachers. Just as not all elementary teachers are as vile as my fifth grade teacher.
     
  4. waterfall

    waterfall Maven

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    Nov 29, 2014

    I always wanted to be a teacher. Both of my parents are teachers. I knew the job market was tough, but I didn't really get how tough until I was already in college. I added a minor in Spanish and a sped endorsement still intending to teach gen ed, but thinking I could make myself more marketable. I hated my sped placements in college. My home state is very gung ho on full inclusion and in my placements the sped teachers were basically glorified paras. They didn't do any actual teaching and just went around and helped kids who raised their hands in class and helped with classroom management. For my full time student teaching I taught 3rd for most of the year and then switched to my sped placement, and I remember just being so sad and bored out of my mind every day because I was not teaching. I decided to only apply for gen ed jobs, but I looked all over the country, which only landed me one interview! Finally a few weeks before school started I decided to start applying for sped, thinking I could do it for a year and hopefully get my foot in the door somewhere and then switch to gen ed. I ended up getting a job across the country and I took it, again thinking I could do anything for a year and then move back with some experience on my resume.

    I was very pleasantly surprised when I started my first job because this state still uses a resource/pull out model. I had my own classroom and planned and taught my own lessons- so incredibly different from what I saw in my home state. I loved the job, but ended up moving because I wanted to live in the city. I was offered a gen ed position and even though by then I was happy in sped, I took it just because it was what I'd always had my heart set on. I enjoyed the teaching part, but my school/admin was horrible- we ended up with almost 3/4 of the teachers leaving by the end of the year. My kids actually did amazingly well on the state tests, but I hated the crazy amount of stress the testing put on me and felt like I'd have to continue "beating" my results each year. I know it's different in other places, but here there isn't much pressure for state tests in sped. When I left that job, I was offered a sped job and a gen ed job and I took the sped position. It was a little messy getting here but I'm very convinced that I'm exactly where I'm supposed to be. I am very happy with my job and where I live now- I have absolutely no desire to move back to my home state, and if my admin offered for me to move to gen ed next year, I honestly think I'd say no.
     
  5. Special-t

    Special-t Enthusiast

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    Nov 29, 2014

    I did not want to teach till I was over 40 when I realized that I wanted a career where I could make a difference in the lives of young people - particularly high school students. I could have gotten a credential in gen ed ELA, but I decided on mild/mod sped because these kids tend to drop out at a higher rate and incarcerated at a higher rate than their peers.
     
  6. bros

    bros Phenom

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    Nov 29, 2014

    I have disabilities myself and I want to make a difference in the lives of children with disabilities in the elementary grades - when the most change can occur.
     
  7. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    Nov 29, 2014

    I started out in a non-education field, did that for about a year, and decided I hated it. I did some soul-searching and determined that I was meant to be a teacher. Initially, I was only planning on teaching general elementary ed. However, hating my current field at the time so much, I found a job as a para at an outside placement school for kids with emotional disturbances to hold me over before my grad school teaching program began. That was a turning point for me. Although those kids were incredibly challenging, I loved working with them. When my grad program began in the fall, I was still registered for the elementary general ed program, and I stayed in it for the first quarter of classes. I had one professor who sensed my interest in sped. With encouragement and support from him, I contacted the person who was in charge of the dual cert program and transferred in the next quarter. It was definitely the right move.

    However... At this point, five years in, I'm truly burnt out on my career in public education. I've taught both sped and general ed. My heart is really more in sped, but my district makes it near impossible to be a successful sped teacher, which is why I moved back into general ed. I'm planning on looking for independent non-public schools in both sped and general ed for next school year. If nothing turns up, I'll likely be getting out of the field altogether. I'm really saddened by that, knowing how much teaching sped means to me, but I know I can't continue to accept the mediocrity.
     
  8. LouiseB

    LouiseB Cohort

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    Nov 29, 2014

    I got my endorsement in elementary education many years ago. Then I left teaching after a few years and did many other jobs. The turning point for me was when I lost my job at that time and needed to figure out what I wanted in my life. I decided that I wanted to go back into education but teaching jobs were very difficult to get...and since I had been out of education for a while, it was difficult to get hired. So I did some subbing. I had never wanted to teach special education but was willing to sub in that area. I had several long term jobs in sped and found that I liked it and felt that I was good at it.

    When it came to the end of one of the long-term jobs in sped, a para said to me that she was sorry to see me go. I commented that Mrs. SoandSo would be back next week. The para exclaimed that what she meant was that she wished that I was staying as the teacher and not Mrs. SoandSo. She went on to say that I had made such a difference in the sped kids since I had been working with them. She said that before at recess the sped kids had stood on the sidelines watching everyone else playing but since I had been there that was no longer happening and she couldn't tell who was sped at all! The kids had so much more confidence. It really got me thinking about the fact that someone else could see what I was thinking too.

    At that time, there was a program that I could take classes during the summer to get my sped endorsement. (No online classes at that time.) After the first summer, I was able to get a sped job teaching as I could get a provisional endorsement. I also was able to use the experience as my "student-teaching."

    This all turned into the current job that I have. I have been told by my supervisor that she hopes I never retire. I've also been told that I'm just what my kids need.

    The kids at school know the story of the para at that school as I wanted them to know sometimes we have to listen to what others have to say to reaffirm what we are noticing. It also is a reminder to me that I do make a difference.

    I love my job and I know that I'm good at it. My only complaint is that I tend to get more and more kids because admin knows I can handle it. Recently a student who is now in high school came before school one day looking for my para. He wanted some help with math. I asked him if he had talked to the math teacher about this. He told me that yeah he had but the teacher just keeps explaining it the same way over and over. He told me that he liked to come to us (my para and myself) because we did a much better job of explaining math as it made more sense to him.

    I take all this to heart knowing that I'm doing what I need to do!:)
     
  9. FourSquare

    FourSquare Fanatic

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    Nov 29, 2014

    I got a bachelor's in business and ultimately I did not want to do that at all whatsoever. I decided to take a year of soul searching with AmeriCorps, and was placed as a volunteer aide in a 3rd grade classroom. I loved it so much I decided to get certified in elementary ed with a sped endorsement, intending to be a gen ed primary teacher forever. I did end up teaching 3rd grade for a year. It was miserable for various reasons. My heart broke for the neediest SPED students that I was clearly not reaching. Fast forward a year and I was offered a middle school SPED position at an excellent school. I took it to get my foot in the door there, but now I don't think I want to change. I LOVE being able to build relationships and advocate for the students who need me most. Plus, I am better suited for older students, I think. I guess you can say I didn't pick SPED...SPED picked me!
     
  10. jacob

    jacob Rookie

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    Dec 3, 2014

    Remember you are teaching digitally focused students with short attention span. Several of the problems some teachers face are due to ambiguous and unclear instructions. Cut off on the clutter and be to the point. Show them the red lines and explain to them classroom ethics and what you can tolerate.
     
  11. Sam Aye M

    Sam Aye M Mr. Know-It-All

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    Dec 9, 2014

    I needed a job and SPED was hiring. I expected to stay a year or two while working my way through school. I ended up staying in SPED for 22 years and counting.
     

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