Before Moving On…

17 Apr


Before moving on, I do need to apologize to Janet, whom I offended in my prior post.  In her comment-turned-post, she did clarify a great deal about her own circumstance.  Namely, she wasn’t a special ed teacher, but a paraeducator in special ed.  That is significant, since I count that as a good way to get experience in the field without actually taking over the class.  Who ever her supervising teacher was, that teacher was lucky to have her since paras who are invested in their education (i.e. working towards a master’s) are generally of higher caliber than those who might simply be looking for just another job. 


Sorry for the snarkiness.  But there’s enough snarkiness to go around for/from everyone:


But then there is the special ed perspective. I don't know how much y'all know about special ed, but some of the techniques used would probably surprise, if not apall you.Okay.Moving on…I was misrepresented as pitting regular education teachers against special education teachers.  Are you kidding?I guess I’ll need to say it again; there are no bargains in this business.  None.  No one gets off light.  I am one of the few who came over from the regular ed side of things and got trained up in special ed.  And even worked as a para while working on my master’s!LOL!  The regular education experience can be every bit as grinding, dramatic and hideous as anything those in special ed can imagine.  And why wouldn’t it, since many of them contend with the same students as we do, in addition to the rest of the  “regular students.”  But we all know there are very few “regular” students, and that all of them are exceptional in some way.  Most special educators see only a fraction of the students regular ed teachers see on a daily basis.  At the high school level, it is not uncommon for a typical English teacher see 150 students each and every day.  Which means if you’re an English teacher and you give a quiz with ten questions, you have to grade and score 1500 different responses!  One thing I definitely do NOT miss is having to grade papers every night.  It was an eternal task in tedium that never ended.  If there was a major test, that would involve even more responses to score.Where I’m at, doing what I do, the administration doesn’t bother me much as long as I keep the peace and avoid drama as much as possible with either staff, students or parents.  The administration isn’t exactly sure what we’re supposed to be doing, anyway, which is part of the problem when it comes to looking for and hiring qualified people.  However, the teachers of core subjects are getting messed with all the time.  In fact, many school systems are chaining these teachers to the oars by making them accountable for performance on test scores and AYP, which I wrote about in my April 7th entry.  There is enough work to go around for everyone, and we really are supposed to be pulling together in educating students.  Different students learn in different ways and it is a mistake to assume that every teacher will be able to reach every single student.   Or that any teacher can reach every student. There’s room for all of us, and we’re all necessary.    And none of us suffers from an over abundance of appreciation, thanks and compensation.  I admire all teachers from all of the fields.  I admire the young teachers for getting into a business that is getting more difficult, more frustrating and more thankless.  I admire veteran teachers for sticking with it.  The main thrust of my last post was to assert that teaching is a legitimate profession, and isn’t something that can simply be outsourced to whoever happens to be standing in the town square with a degree and needs a job.  Passion certainly is a big part of it.  But so is knowledge and expertise.  There are skill sets and areas of knowledge that a teacher should possess that isn’t available to just anyone.  Otherwise, we have no business comparing ourselves to specialized fields of law and medicine.  For more reading on the shortage of special education teachers, there is a good article out of
Utah that highlights the challenges facing districts all over the country:On Saturday,
Davis was honored as the
Utah Teacher of the Year by the Council for Exceptional Children. She spends her days in a Provo High classroom with 10 teenagers who have multiple, severe disabilities, and she said the No. 1 quality required for the job is simply the will to do the work. "It definitely does take some patience, but probably the biggest thing is just the want to be there, the desire to be there,"
Davis said.

She teaches a similar constellation of students that I do, at least by the sound of it.  And passion and desire are very necessary components of the job.  Hopefully that inner fire will result in learning to become proficient.  Desire and passion are certainly necessary, but not sufficient.  As the article goes on to state:


Ted Kelly, director of special education for the Provo City School District, called
Davis "a guardian angel." But teachers like
Davis are getting harder for districts to come by."We have seen over the years that our veteran teachers are retiring, and as our new teachers come in, they just don't stay in the profession very long," Kelly said. He said he usually needs to fill four or five special education positions every year, but next year he projects he'll have 10 spots to fill. Paperwork, federal requirements and stress can make the job frustrating, Kelly said. It requires "an internal quality that I think people have that are tolerant and caring and that kind of thing — balancing that between the education and the skills to really individualize for students' needs, along with handling a great deal of stress."

Good article, relatively short and worth a read.



2 Responses to “Before Moving On…”

  1. Janet April 17, 2006 at 10:31 am #

    Thank you for your public apology. If I seemed defensive it is only because I feel that teaching itself is a hard enough job without being critiqued by other educators. For the record, I don’t think one field, special ed or regular ed, is harder either. Unfortunately, I think a lot of people make wrong assumptions about teaching, period.

  2. Rob April 19, 2006 at 9:58 am #

    I appreciate your apology and your views on special education as well. I just had a similar situation on another blog of mine where I took a commenter a bit out of context and after he later explained himself I understood a bit more of what he was saying.

    Anyways, I am entering a graduate program this summer with the intent of becoming certified as a special education teacher and I look forward to learning from you through your blog. Thanks!

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