What’s Up with the Title of this Blog?

23 Jan

I suppose I should explain the title of this blog.  I had several ideas in mind, but when I looked over and saw my boys playing, I realized what is was going to be.  My journey into special education and exceptionalities began long before I was married and parents.


I graduated from Iowa State U. with  B.S. in agriculture education in 1987.  I liked my ag. classes in high school, and thought I’d like doing it.  But there were not many jobs teaching ag. in those days and I struggled to find a half time position, only to see that evaporate under me in a year.  I went back to school and got endorsements to teach science.  It was during that extra year in school that I had a couple of experiences with special ed.  One was being a volunteer tutor at a Mesquakie Indian settlement.  The other was being a volunteer at a special preschool with hearing impaired kids.  Unfortunately it was at the end of my money to consider another career change.  But I had a great time.  And I reflected back that my best teaching seemed to be with the slower kids.


I was looking for warmer climates and looked for teaching jobs in Florida but eventually settled in Georgia.  I taught science for a few years at a private school in the Atlanta area that specialized in teaching (rich) students with ADHD and learning disabilities.  I decided to go back to school again and get my Master’s degree in special education, specifically for learning disabilities.  But an instructor at Georgia State convinced me that I’d be good in the emotional behavior disorders (EBD) program.  So that’s what I ended up doing.  It was instant job security.  But it was also instant headaches.


The most hideous teaching job on the planet is EBD self-contained.  And after I applied for a paraprofessional position in a metro county, they interviewed and hired me as a full-fledged teacher despite not being certified and no experience with these sorts of kids.  THAT was a mistake for them and me.  I was enticed by the money, and they were enticed by having a warm, male body in a classroom for these kids.  I don’t know why the skid marks on the wall didn’t warn me.  I lasted until October, when they had me finish my one semester contract as a long-term substitute.  I had a chance to spend time with all the kids of all disabilities in the high school and junior high.  I might have been able to land a job in the county except I was blackballed.  Or that’s how I felt.  I finally did get that paraprofessional job at a psychoed center the next year.  It was a wonderful experience.


Psychoed centers in Georgia are unique to this state, and serve students with severe emotional behavior disturbed (SEBD) kids.  Everyone in the building serves SEBD kids.  Everyone works together and pulls together in the same direction.  While inclusion and mainstreaming are fine concepts, there is no substitute for having an expert and well-trained staff working together to deliver first class services.  

During this time, I met my wife and was finishing my Master’s.  I ended up teaching for 4 years at a Child and Adolescent unit at a state mental hospital.  These kids were in the worst of the worst shape, emotionally and behaviorally.  And I saw every type at every age.  Suicidal, homicidal, schizophrenic, severely developmentally delayed, gifted, hearing and visually impaired…you name it.  I did work with a highly qualified  EBD teacher but also worked with some who were teachers pulled off the street who knew nothing of teaching kids with disabilities.  People who were as unqualified as me when I first started those years ago.  I became a parent during this time.  When my son was 8 months old, he had a series of seizures which were eventually brought under control with Phenobarbital.


I wanted something different once the state governor decided to close down our unit.  And that is how I ended up in the present position I occupy now.  It was also during this time that my son was diagnosed with PDD-NOS.  I was actually the one who went to the neurologist and said, “I think we’re looking at behaviors that match up with Autism!”  Sure enough, Thomas would not begin speaking until he was almost 4 years old.  Today, he chatters incessantly.


I’m teaching special education largely because it is a profession that has chosen me.  Certainly the business of teaching severe and profound kids.  My experience and expertise with autism landed in my lap as both a teacher and a parent almost simultaneously. 


I made a lot of choices in my life, but this is a profession that seemed to call out to me and draw me to itself.  I think many teachers find themselves drawn into their professions.  There are certainly easier ways to make a living and things a person could do to make a lot more.  But I’m not complaining about what I get paid.  I’ve had harder jobs that paid a lot less, too.




2 Responses to “What’s Up with the Title of this Blog?”

  1. Teacher Sol January 23, 2006 at 3:01 am #

    I am a special ed teacher in Washington DC. Believe me, I can very much relate to your sentiments here. Thanks for dropping by my blog earlier. I hope that won’t be your first time.

  2. specialed January 25, 2006 at 1:12 am #

    Woohoo! You WIN!LOL! You’re the first commentor! WOOT!

    Yes, your place is already a regular and favorite stop of mine.



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