What is the hardest thing about teaching Special Ed?

Discussion in 'Special Education Archives' started by KindredSpirit83, Nov 19, 2005.

  1. KindredSpirit83

    KindredSpirit83 Rookie

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    Nov 19, 2005

    I'm majoring in Special Education and I have never gotten to really get to talk to any teachers, so I'm hoping to get some input from you guys :)

    What is the most challenging thing about teaching Special Education? I am asking because I am so nervous that I might not do a good job (I'm graduating soon) but I have always wanted to teach Special Ed
     
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  3. kinderkids

    kinderkids Virtuoso

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    I am not a special ed teacher, but I would have to imagine one of the most difficult things is the mounds and mounds of paperwork that is required of spec. ed teachers!!! Seems like they are required to do more and more each year..........and all the meetings they need to attend. Seems like they are taken out of the classroom to attend meetings far to much. Both of my boys are on the autistic spectrum and in spec. ed.........so I have seen a lot of it through that perspective. I always feel for those poor spec ed teachers and all of the paperwork they are required to do. I am sure an actual spec ed teacher could give you better ideas. This is simply coming from a different perspective.
     
  4. Beth2004

    Beth2004 Maven

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    I would also say that the paperwork would be one of the toughest things. I am also not a special ed. teacher, but when I student taught in an inclusion classroom (13 of 26 were on IEPs) and the paperwork that the special ed teacher needed to fill-out seemed endless sometimes!
     
  5. GlendaLL

    GlendaLL Aficionado

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    On Friday, I subbed for a special ed teacher who was in IEP meetings all day. She spoke with me before the end of the day. She talked about having to write up all of the new IEP's. She said that she had been coming in about two hours early, starting to write them up. Also, she told me that she had 30 minute meetings set up - with 15 minutes after each meeting. She said that several of the parents were not keeping their scheduled meeting time. One set of parents came 3 minutes before the next meeting was set - basically, 42 minutes late. And, the next set of parents were already there. That threw off her schedule. She looked exhausted!
     
  6. kinderkids

    kinderkids Virtuoso

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    I think it is terrible!!! We need more great spec. ed teachers......I admire them so much, as they are certainly angels in my eyes. Why are we making them jump through so many hoops in order to help these special children???????
     
  7. Beth2004

    Beth2004 Maven

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    Oh, it's awful when several IEPs are up for review at the same time. We actually had a similar situation during my student teaching. There were about 5 or 6 in our class being reviewed right around the same time and some of the parents and social workers kept rescheduling on us. The poor spec. ed. teacher was a mess the whole week.
     
  8. SpecialPreskoo

    SpecialPreskoo Moderator

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    Preschool SPE Teacher here...

    Paperwork is awful. About the time you figure out the new forms, they change them. NOW they have them on a computer program but still has bugs and they've even changed the way the forms look on there and it's only been one year with the computer program... not even a full year!

    THEN you have the parents... well... actually the parents that were in SPE themselves in school that have no parenting skills what so ever. Some don't show up for IEP meetings, some show up with other family members to help them figure out what is going on in the meetings.

    THEN you have all that paperwork that is due while you are trying to work with the SPE kids that need your attention more than the paperwork but the paperwork has a deadline on it.

    You get kids with little to no motivation. Kids that know there is something wrong with them and know how to play the sympathy card and will play lazy if you let them get away with it.

    You have the parents that drive you nuts there ALL THE TIME or calling ALL THE TIME or both. You have the parents you want involved that don't give a rip. You have the parents whose SPE child is a perfect angel *cough cough... about to choke on the thought of the perfect angel* and their child does no wrong because they are the poor little SPE child and have never told the child "no" since they were born. HELLO!?!? I have a brother with Downs and he was told "no" just as much as I was. They have to learn how to mind just like the rest of the population needs to.

    Then there is the paperwork... oh I mentioned that already... lol.

    Lori
     
  9. GlendaLL

    GlendaLL Aficionado

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    When I first started subbing in special ed classrooms, I asked a teacher aide - What eventually happens to these children? I'll never forget her answer "They intermarry, have kids, and the beat goes on."
     
  10. kinderkids

    kinderkids Virtuoso

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    Glenda, how sad!!! I certainly don't think that isn't how my son's are perceived!! I have very high expectations and standards for them both. And believe me, they know the word no!!! I was just at my highschoolers p/teacher conference yesterday...........now I know why she said that my son is such a breath of fresh air!! If most of them are like what Lori said...........how sad!!! That will not be my boys, that is for certain!!!!
     
  11. GlendaLL

    GlendaLL Aficionado

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    kinderkids - Good for you!! You and your husband must be doing a great job as parents. But, I can't imagine how a mentally/physically disabled parent would have the skills to be a good parent. Parenting is hard enough for healthy adults with sound minds/bodies!!
     
  12. kinderkids

    kinderkids Virtuoso

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    I agree Glenda. There are too many serious issues that come up in parenting........I just couldn't imagine doing this if I wasn't cognitively up to it.
     
  13. kinderkids

    kinderkids Virtuoso

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    Like I said before.........I think all spec. ed teachers are really angels on earth!!!:love: :angel:
     
  14. jenglish97

    jenglish97 Devotee

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    I have been a special education teacher for the last 6 years. During these 6 years I have experienced a lot of different aspects of special education. I started out my first year teaching a self-contained class of emotional disturbed children (grades 4-6). Then I taught LLD children (grades 4-6). And now I am in an inclusion class (second grade). I love it. This is definitely the place for me.

    I have to say one the hardest things about teaching in an inclusion classroom is that you get along with your team teacher (regular education). I found that when I started teaching in an inclusion class, I sat down with the regular education teachers at the beginning of the year and dicussed how we would work together and what each others expectations were. It takes a few years to work as a team in an inclusion setting. I love the both worlds. And my students certainly benefit from working in an inclusion setting.

    Another thing that I found about teaching special education is the paperwork. You need to keep a paper trail on each child. IEP's can be difficult at times.

    One thing that I have experienced when working with behavioral disability children my first year, I did not have a very supportive Child Study Team. The school psychologist, social worker, and director all left during the year. So I had no help. My advice is to make sure to have a support team you can go to when you need help.

    The first couple of years can be stressful but I found them to be very rewarding and I love every minute of working with special education children.

    Good luck. We certainly need special education teachers, and I bet you will be great. It might be easier for you considering that you have a special needs sibling.

    I was a product of special education due to being classified auditorally handicap. I know how my students feel and my parents realize that I know what I went through with my parents...

    As I said, good luck and you will be great!!!:)
     
  15. lilfrenchbee

    lilfrenchbee New Member

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    Nov 22, 2005

    From a new teacher...

    I think the hardest things for me are:
    1. Like Teardrop, I find that though administration "understands" special education as a field, has little to no practical information on how to meet the needs of the students in my class in the school. This includes behavioral assistance, adequate staffing, and support for collaboration.
    2. Trying to make my kids with moderate disabilities align to State standards for instruction. I don't see how they are to be expected to be at standards levels when they can only sit or pay attention for 3-5 minutes.
    3. Teaching a full day mainly kinder level class with kids with so many levels of intellectual and behavioral functioning is exhausting!

    Yet the rewards are there none the less, so I'm teaching.
     
  16. TeachWildThings

    TeachWildThings Comrade

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    It is the paper work. I started the end of Sept & have had 11 IFSP meetings so far 2 more this week & an IEP next week. (IFSP's are for kids 0-3 & are held every 6 months) There is so much I want to do for my little guys, not to mention still getting my classroom in order....even my administrators don't completely understand my program (& I'm on an all spe ed site!) but they are supportive.
    I think the 2nd biggest thing is when administrators tell you not to offer services because of $$$ (I worked on an included campus) , yet as a teacher you are required to tell parents when assessments are needed. The cool thing is I've not run into this at my current job, but as a para this was the biggest frustration of many teachers I worked with.
    Yet....I wouldn't trade being a special educator, it is my dream job & I absolutely love it!
     
  17. wvsasha

    wvsasha Companion

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    The hardest thing? Hearing so-called "teachers" denigrating my sp.ed. students just because my kids have a label.

    I have a young lady who wanted to take French and her case manager told her "you can't hardly pass english, what makes you think you can pass french?". Another student overheard this and told me about it - I went to that teacher and ripped him a new one.

    I was soooooo mad.

    Luckily I was able to find the girl and get her confidence back and willing to try the class again. At the 9 weeks she had a "C"! The only modification was for the teacher to not count off for spelling as long as the teacher could tell what word was being written. The girl had a wonderful ear and was able to pick up on the accent very easily.

    I"m so proud of her!
     
  18. zolar16

    zolar16 Rookie

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    Paperwork can be tough, differentiating instruction is hard, and dealing with administration can be tricky. However, I think the hardest thing about teaching Special Ed is dealing with my students' parents. For each of the past 2 years, I've had 4-5 really awesome, understanding families that are as thrilled as I am by the progress their children make. However, last year I had 1 family that thought I couldn't do anything right and blamed their child's behavior/academic performance on me. No matter how much data I collect, no matter how hard I try to work with them, no matter how good their kid is doing, I'm still a crummy teacher. Oh well, I guess passing kindergarten with flying colors and learning to stay on task is no big accomplishment. ;) This year I have TWO families (out of 6) like that. It's so annoying!!
     
  19. AspieTeacher

    AspieTeacher Comrade

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    Hello fellow teachers,

    I am a special education teacher who works with students with autism. I feel that the hardest part of my job is attempting to convince the parents to STOP doing EVERYTHING for their child because they ASSUME my student is HELPLESS and needs TOTAL ASSISTANCE. It's so **** frustrating to convince these parents that their child is able to do things for him/herself without help. They are totally amazed how well I keep a good routine in my classroom. It's also frustrating when you can't communicate with the parents because of a lack of English speaking. The colleges don't teach the "Spanish" that my parents speak so that is a joke. It's like learning how to learn English like they teach in college textbooks! Being in Los Angeles is frustrating when you are trying to convince these parents that they need to follow up with what you are trying to teach in the classroom as well. Writing IEP's is a piece of cake! When the parents expect you to do most of the work, there is usually no arguments. Another tough part of teaching special education is using the "disabling condition" as an excuse for students who intentionally hurt others or themselves. I don't use the "disability" excuse FOR ANYTHING. If they decide that they want to hurt, destroy, they will have consequences. This is another difficult part of special education. But the most part of the teaching is when you have a known disability like mine (Asperger's Syndrome) and it sometimes interferes with your daily routine. I'm lucky that I work with students like myself because we all require a consistent, repetitive routine. thanks for allowing me to share my experiences.

    Troy in Los Angeles, Ca
     
  20. zolar16

    zolar16 Rookie

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    Yes, AspieTeacher, I HATE it when people don't give our kids any credit because they have different needs. I just want to yell at some of my kids' parents when they pick them up and carry them to the car, or when they tell me what they let their kids get away with at home. Sure, your child may be developmentally disabled, but that doesn't mean he's stupid, and it doesn't mean you should coddle him.
     
  21. wvsasha

    wvsasha Companion

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    Have you heard about the new disability? PDD ---> parental deficiency disorder.......
     
  22. zolar16

    zolar16 Rookie

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    LOL is that going to be in the next edition of the DSM?
     
  23. Lindsey K

    Lindsey K Rookie

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    The toughest part....working your booty off every day, hoping to find a spark and make a difference and sometimes not ever really knowing for sure if they are "getting it".

    The best part...I was having an awful morning....frustrated because of the very thing I just wrote for the "toughest part". One of my most challenging students came in between classes and handed me a note all folded up. Her mom often writes me notes that are VERY frustrating...such as "I just did her homework for her because she is not able to do this hard stuff." ARGGHHH! So I told her thank you, gave her a passing smile and sent her on to class. I sat down at my desk to read the note and to my surprise, I teared up as I read "I love you, Mrs. Kennon!" in big letters.

    THAT is the best part :love:
     
  24. AspieTeacher

    AspieTeacher Comrade

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    The most rewarding part of our career is when you see simple little steps and your students have gone beyond what others have not even made an attempt. I challenge my students as much as possible daily, but there will be a few students that you'll never reach and that's the frustrating part. I have more than a few who i've really worked hard to challenge, but they have regressed more than I had expected. I still love my career though.

    Troy in Los Angeles
     
  25. RJN

    RJN Rookie

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    I can't believe no one has mentioned the difficult task of planning!! I agree that the paperwork is horrible, but I find trying to plan for 12 kids at various levels, no plan periods and no "teacher manuals" a nightmare sometimes. Sometimes I would love to just turn the page and go to the next chapter as Reg. Ed. teachers do. Planning is even more challenging when you have the same kids for 2-4 years in a row or when repetition is necessary and your are trying to keep it fresh and motivating!
     
  26. Sam Aye M

    Sam Aye M Mr. Know-It-All

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    How do you find the time to think about all of that with all the paperwork we have to do? :)

    yeah, the paperwork is going to drive me to leave and become a gas-station attendent.
     
  27. wvsasha

    wvsasha Companion

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    I"m working on my thesis for my Master's and the subtitle to one of the studies on inclusion is actually "I'd rather pump gas!".

    Bet you can guess what the overall feeling was from that study!
     
  28. RJN

    RJN Rookie

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    I'm not sure. It doesn't always get done, I work through lunch, after school and at home. It's a shame that these are the kinds of things that drive people away.
     
  29. wanateach

    wanateach Companion

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    RJN:

    How do you do it? I am just curious.
     
  30. wvsasha

    wvsasha Companion

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    Well, I'm not RJN but mine gets done after school and on weekends.
     
  31. RJN

    RJN Rookie

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    wvsasha,

    I have to stay after school some, I bring it home and I work at lunch. Sometimes, I have my aides/paras run an activity such as bingos, newspaper activities, jeopardy game that I made, etc. I try to get some done here and there, but I find that I need longer periods of time because of either digging up materials or making it up in my head. If I can, I teach in themes. We recently finished Personal Hygiene, Grooming and are doing Clothing right now. Next week we are going to First Aid and Health. This gives me some direction. When I taught elementary I was able to use more common themes and holidays. Then I keep folders/files of all of this and expand on it each year. I keep a planning map or web in each file that has activities broken down into categories like reading, math, writing, listening, cooking, vocab, art, misc. games. I try to list everything there before I start so I can quickly refer to it when I get some time to plan. For me, it's all about organization. I just function better that way.
    I think I started to ramble there, sorry. Hope this was helpful.
     
  32. wanateach

    wanateach Companion

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    THanks so much RJN,
    now I feel guilty taking up your time-wow!! When do you get time for yourself-or do you? What ages are you talking, and what ranges of disability? Just curious. The paperwork must be something awful. thanks for all of your insight. I would like to teach elementary aged kids-I did once, a long time ago, but I can't recall, I think there were just a lot of behavior problems that overshadowed what I was trying to do with them, and I had about 12 also-Oh , I so want another chance at this. It must be very rewarding for you, thanks for writing. L.
     
  33. wvsasha

    wvsasha Companion

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    About 4 years ago, for 2 years we had a "secretary" that we shared with 2 other schools that took care of alot of the paperwork for sp.ed. Oh how I wish that money were still available to pay for her! That position was an absolute sanity-saver!

    She took care of all the teacher evaluations, meeting notifications, filing, folder maintenence, and odds-n-ends paperwork.

    There are only 2 aides in the department and they are assigned to a room (self-contained MI and self-contained BD) so we can't even share them around to help supervision with kids who are included in the regular ed rooms. So frequently, my "planning time" gets used by covering those classes when their assigned resource teacher is absent.

    It's a good thing there's a TV in my room that gets cartoons for my daughters to watch on sunday afternoons when I have to go in to work on paperwork! LOL!
     
  34. tracieteaches

    tracieteaches Companion

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    The hardest part about teaching sped. for me is...

    Not receiving recognition for the hard work that we do. I have been a spec ed. teacher since 1991, and until this year, I didn't get a Christmas present, card or note since 2001, and before that it was probably 9 or 10 years since I had received a gift, note, or card. Most of the parents either expect you to work miracles ,or are not involved at all. Administrators and regular ed. teachers often seem to look down on you for having such small classes, not even realizing the HUGE challenges that these kids can present. However, if you can get over these ego-busters, every once in a while, maybe only 2 or 3 times in 15 years, you are told by a student or parent, or even both, that you are appreciated. And that means everything and will keep you going.
     
  35. RJN

    RJN Rookie

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    wanateach

    I do find some time for myself and we only have one child, so that helps. My class is made up of 13-16 year olds, only 7th-9th graders. Their abilities vary. I have 2 who read nothing, can match numbers and count some and have some functional skills. One is almost non-verbal, only a few words you can understand. The others read between a 1st grade level, and on a good day, 3rd. Those same kids all count money, some count change and all are able to care for themselves, do some cooking with support and have some social skills. There is lots to work on, however. I will move 6 of them on next year and I have been told that over the next few years the ability level drops significantly. Not sure what direction I will go in then.

    I hope you get a chance to do this again! These kids need people who really want to be with them, not using it as a way to get their foot in the door.
     
  36. JaimeMarie

    JaimeMarie Moderator

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    Besides the paperwork. Trying to work with teachers to help include the children in the classroom. Some think the kids are "stupid" and shouldn't be in their room. That they should be in some special type of school.
     
  37. wanateach

    wanateach Companion

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    RJN<
    Just another question if you don't mind, you are so good to correspond with me like this, do you go back and forth between academics and social skills, and how exactly do you teach that? What is acceptable and what isn't, how the world views success, and how to achieve that, by getting along with others, not to hurt others to get attention that kind of thing, I am thinking, in this day and age, I almost need to be a psychologist to get inside their heads where I can do some good-choking up-Lori
     
  38. jasonmark

    jasonmark Rookie

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    When parents blame the kid for his inability to learn well.
     
  39. TeachWildThings

    TeachWildThings Comrade

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    Or the parents who are blamed by the other parent or family members. Sometimes it can be guilt, other times ignorance. Other issues come from cultural differences. How do you get a parent on board to help with intervention when they believe the child chose to be born with a disability or earned it from a past life deed. You have to find that middle ground of accepting this is their belief system & still urging them to participate to the fullest in their child's education no matter what your own opinion might be. That I think is the most difficult. At the end of the day I just tell myself above all else I will do my best for my students.
     
  40. wanateach

    wanateach Companion

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    Sounds like the parents need to be educated as well-to find what they do matters, especially to their child-they have influence they will never know how much what they say affects the way the child feels about himself-what barriers we have to overcome-it gets overwhelming, huh?
     
  41. kinderkids

    kinderkids Virtuoso

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    I'm glad you said most and not all. Those are the first teachers my husband and I remember at Christmas, end of the year, etc. I would never leave them nor the aides off of my Christmas list. As I have always said, special ed teachers are angels in disguise(and so are their helpers). I make an effort to make sure and let them know that, too.
     

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