Aspiring special education teacher; what is the stress component? And other...

Discussion in 'Special Interests' started by Maggie1999, Aug 13, 2017.

  1. Maggie1999

    Maggie1999 Rookie

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    Aug 13, 2017

    Hi dear special education teachers;
    I'm in CA studying for my last CSET test. Passing this, and finding out if I passed two other tests (I did pass the first one) will determine if I get into a intern special ed teaching program that will "most probably" begin spring 2018. (specialize in mild/moderate - later will try to get certification for early childhood intervention). I know this is not an easy career to go into. When I happen to meet a special ed teacher I always ask how they like their job. Several have tried to talk me out of it, the others I talk to love their job. It seems so much comes down to the particular school, level of support, and probably one's level of experience. Correct me if I'm wrong.
    As I am studying - for the math and biology exam which will be the hardest for me - been out school for decades besides a few classes here and there...I am becoming more curious about exactly what the stress component is. My best uneducated take is that its the keeping up with bureaucracy. I presume another stress will be sometimes, dealing with teachers, and parents, and perhaps even the principal. A lot of people to deal with besides the students!! Keeping up with the IEP's....and all the organization and timing that goes into that.
    However now my big question is....is the stress the intense workload? Or is it emotional/dealing with people so intensely constantly?

    I have one other question....and its a weird one. Is it possible to get a special ed teaching job that is only 75% time? I have never seen ads for that. Up at a school at Humbolt, the administrator there said some students did get jobs part-time because there are many outlying small towns that only need a teacher part-time. But I never hear of special ed teachers "sharing" or co teaching class like you sometimes hear of general ed teachers doing. Its kind of a long story why I am even asking this, so won't go into unless someone asks.
    How many of you enjoy teaching? If you could have done something else, what would you have done? Thanks in advance for your time.
     
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  3. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Aug 13, 2017

    I can't answer most of your questions, but I can say that there are often part-time jobs for special ed teachers, depending on your district. Job-sharing is not common in my district but not unheard of either. Job-sharing is not at all the same thing as co-teaching in my district. Co-teaching means that there are two teachers assigned to the same class at the same time, with one teacher being general ed and the other being special ed. It has nothing to do with part- or full-time status.
     
  4. Maggie1999

    Maggie1999 Rookie

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    Aug 13, 2017

    Thanks for your response. I guess one thing for me to sort out about the topic of teaching part-time...is talking to the lady up at Humbolt College (arcata area, N. Ca)...was I was left with the impression that its only in very small towns/schools that one can get part-time sp. ed. teaching work.

    Would you say that is your experience? Or can one get part time job in an urban area....where I would much prefer to live....? When I ask here locally, which granted is a very impacted area of the United States....so impacted that there is a actual housing crisis in the whole North Bay region....anyway...when I look on Indeed, or ask administrators....they say they don't hear of part time special ed jobs....they hear of them with general ed teaching, but not special ed. I am wondering if its just the area I live in.

    My plan anyway, after getting this teaching program done, is to hightail it out of this expensive area to a more relaxed urban area....perhaps somewhere in New Mexico, or NC (where my family is)....areas that have cities between 300,000 to 500,000 people. I would think there would be more options however I DO definitely want the regular job with summers and breaks off, not a year round school.

    Where I live the town is only 8,000 people, however its within a much larger area of many towns, next door to town of 500,000....don't know if any of this makes a difference.
     
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2017
  5. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    Aug 13, 2017

    I just responded to your question on your other thread about the number of hours sped teachers work. As I alluded to there, much of the stress comes with the case manager and evaluation responsibilities that sped teachers often have to take on in addition to their role as teachers. If you are lucky enough to find a job as a sped teacher without those added responsibilities, then your job isn't likely to be much more stressful than that of any other teacher in the building (Of course, all teaching jobs have potential to be stressful!). Add on those case manager and/or evaluation duties, and your job will be high-stress! Being a full time sped teacher takes time and energy. Taking on an added role that includes a lot of paperwork, communication, and other time-intensive and detailed-oriented responsibilities can and has put many sped teachers over the edge, including me.
     
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  6. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    Aug 13, 2017

    Also, I should add that different sped teaching jobs can have different stress levels. Working with a mild/moderate population and focusing primarily on academics (reading, writing, and math intervention) is rarely as stressful as working with students who are also considered mild/moderate but who have been identified with emotional/behavioral disabilities. Working with students who have more severe and profound disabilities can also be stressful and often isolating, as there is usually only one classroom of this type in a school, and other teachers often can't relate to what goes on in that type of classroom.
     
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  7. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    Aug 13, 2017

    I've worked in two metropolitan areas, within or near cities, and I've never come across a posting for a part-time sped teacher. It doesn't mean that those positions don't exist, but I think it's pretty rare.
     
  8. waterfall

    waterfall Maven

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    Aug 13, 2017

    I'm a mild/moderate teacher. In my state SPED teachers are case managers and responsible for completing the academic portions of evaluations (formal academic testing, classroom observation, summary of the MTSS process the student went through, and summary of informal/classroom data). I also have around 30 students, which is typical for my area. One year I got up to 45 before they finally agreed to hire an additional teacher for the following year. In some parts of the country, like my home state, SPED teachers will only have about 15 students. Like Bella was saying, there are also some states where being a case manager is a completely separate job, and there are also places where SPED teachers aren't required to do any formal testing for evaluations either.

    I have taught both gen ed and SPED. Here is what I find particularly stressful about SPED:
    1. You will have 0 "easy" students. Kids are in SPED for a reason. Often, academic difficulties go along with behavior difficulties. Kids that are purposely separated into different gen ed classrooms because they set each other off are often together in my room. I do have some really sweet kids, but they obviously have significant academic difficulties or they wouldn't be with me in the first place.
    2. Along with point number one, you'll be responsible for having a significant number of difficult conversations with parents. You don't get to have any conferences/meetings where the kid is well behaved, has great grades, and you only have positives to report. Having meetings where parents are hearing for the first time that their child has a disability is also very emotionally draining.
    3. I have no curriculum and am given no resources by the school, yet I am expected to be aligned with gen ed in what I teach- without any of the materials, books, or resources that they have. I have to create everything I use myself. I also have to create all of my own assessments.
    4. I work with 13 different gen ed teachers. That's a lot of different personalities and you can never please everyone. For example, we've just started school and I'm expected to give my students a few days in gen ed prior to starting pull-outs so they can learn new routines/expectations. Any day that I choose to start services, I will have at least one teacher furious with me that it's too late and I should have started earlier, and at least one other that is furious that it's too early and the kids need more time to get adjusted to their new gen ed room. On top of that, no one on my own SPED team teaches the same thing I do, so it's a lot harder to work together than with a grade level team where you all have the same job.
    5. Like Bella was saying, the SPED paperwork/case management responsibilities on top of teaching is a lot. Besides the sheer volume of work, all of your deadlines are legal ones. You can't get away with missing anything or forgetting anything- not even the tiniest mistake. You will have to be meticulous to make sure everything is worded correctly and every box is checked correctly.
    6. It can feel like nothing you ever do is good enough. My state expects students with learning disabilities to be performing on grade level and passing state tests- the only "excuse" for not doing these things is having a cognitive disability. This is an impossible goal because if the child were performing at grade level and passing state tests, they would no longer qualify for SPED. Keep in mind that with MTSS, students are receiving interventions already (in the schools I've worked in, these are just as intensive if not more intensive then what they'll get in SPED) and in order to qualify for an IEP you have to show that they didn't respond to those interventions. You also have to show that they massively failed a standardized assessment (Woodcock Johnson or whatever is used to help determine eligibility) in order to get an IEP. Yet when they get the IEP, it is your responsibility to make sure they magically start responding to interventions and passing standardized assessments. In the event this does happen, they are exited from SPED and no longer "count" for you anymore.
    7. In the schools I've worked in, SPED has gotten a lot less respect than gen ed. Classroom teachers think my job is easy because I work with small groups. PD is only geared toward gen ed and we're supposed to just "listen in so we know what's going on in gen ed." When I taught gen ed, it was so nice to feel like one of the "important" teachers. In some places, schools are going to co-teaching rather than resource classes, and IME in that situation the SPED teacher is always treated like a para.

    As far as part time jobs, I'm in an urban area and have seen postings for 80% teachers. I would be wary of those jobs because IMO you'll be doing practically the same amount of work as full time teachers with a big pay cut. Since teaching isn't an hourly job, it doesn't really make sense that 80% "contract time" spent at school equals 80% pay.
     
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  9. Maggie1999

    Maggie1999 Rookie

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    Aug 13, 2017

    Yes, that is the impression I've gotten.
     

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