New Job?

23 May

The past week has been a hideous mess.  Well, not so much in the way of daily drama, but this is the last week of school and we each have our end-of-year checklists where we get things signed off by various people around the building.  For instance we get checked off by the media specialists when we have everything checked in.  The computer lab person checks us off when we have our computer inventory done, etc.  It's sort of like a scavenger hunt.


I addition to the stuff all teachers have to do, the special education department has its own extensive checklist.  All IEP's have to be completed, checked, double checked and organized.  The county office inundates us with various forms requiring us to fill them out and send them in for certain things to get checked off. 


It's just a lot of headache that is piled high atop shoulders already weary and trying to hold the line as we go through the last few days of school.  2 more days and a wake-up, as we'd say in the army.


I like what I do and I have liked it these past 6 years.  Not every minute of every day, mind you, but I have generally enjoyed being with these students and all of the adults that I work with.  I have built some real bonds with them and the parents.  Taz and Spaz, especially, despite being total loons have become such a staple in my daily life.  I have spent the better part of the last 3 months looking forward and planning to work with them next year.


However, something has come up that threatens my little pastoral world of student-teacher-parent-para.  An opportunity that is irresistible and is tailor made for me.  They are looking for a behavior intervention specialist.


My oldest, Thomas, needs to have dental work done as he has a few cavities.  We simply don't have the money, because for someone with ASD, dental work is the 5th circle of Hell.  We can't even give the boy a haircut without 2 people holding him down.  So he will need to be knocked out in a hospital in order to have his teeth worked on.  Magnolia County will cover 50% of the cost of dental care for their employees, but nothing for family members.  And guess who is the only one in the family with perfect teeth? 


So I was thinking about stringing together a series of ESY jobs this summer in order to pay for it.  While looking for my hourly rate, I saw the interventionist position vacancy notice on the county website.  That was last night, and I've been thinking on it ever since.  It starts July 1st and would involve an extended school year contract which means more $$$$.  But that is not the main attraction, here.  I've been studying applied behavior analysis alongside PhD and BCBA candidates for the last 4 years for exactly this position.  This is the one.  I talked to our SLP, Cleotis, who is one of the wisest folks I know.  She said "Do it! This position is YOU and has YOU written all over it!"  Cleotis was one who made me promise not to transfer to the new high school, and has begged me not to leave.  But now she sees this as a higher calling, and really jumped in behind me on it.  I told my department head about it and she was equally enthused, saying she'd be happy to be listed as a reference.


Hmmm.  I admittedly have mixed feelings about it.  What about Taz and Spaz?  I hardly think their parents would be equally as excited.  But I could be wrong.  I suppose I should feel good about the confidence my peers have in me.  But leaving what I have built will be most difficult.  I have so many loose ends.  The ESY and the hospital homebound student.  Bella and her transition into our program.  Jim, our newest student with full-blown autism whose mother pleaded for help with some of his issues.  These are commitments I made that will change over time with me attempting to cover an entire county if I get this new job.


If I applied and wasn't hired, I would be so okay with that.  I have sufficient challenges where I'm at.  But if I didn't apply, I would always wonder.  I would have a difficult time dealing if someone lesser took such a big job. 


And I know there are precious few of us around with ABA training as well as backgrounds in EBD and developmental delays.  In fact, out of the 9 of us going through the Ed.S program at GSU, I was the only one going for an ABA certificate.  Everyone else was going through the research-based instruction route save one who was in the assistive technology track.


In any case, this is a position that is long overdue.  There are behavioral hot spots all over the place, from those going through manifestation, to the problems on school buses to managing behavior in the hallways.  This last week of school, students are dawdling around instead of going to class, resulting in a lot confusion and delay as seniors take their final exams.  I have an idea that might work.  It might not work, but it's hard to imagine more confusion than I saw this morning. I'll see if I can give the principal my idea before the 8:00 meeting for all of the graduation ushers.

 BTW, tomorrow is the last IEP I have to LEA…HOORAY!  IEPs are FINISHED!  My son's went off without a hitch, Monday. They only arrayed 9 people on the other side of me this year.  It hardly seemed fair.  No major issues, here.  One thing of note is that we will definitely be canning the Concerta.  No one saw a difference in him at all during the past month.  And I have to admit that this was a surprise to hear this, as Jane spilled the beans a bit earlier than I would have.  But the whole group of teachers and therapists agreed that they couldn't see any substantial difference, and the bits of data they had didn't support it, either.  And we suspected that we were seeing some rebounding in the late afternoon.  Rebounding without benefit doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me.



4 Responses to “New Job?”

  1. johnwillslloyd at 5:32 am #

    There’s lots in this one on which I could comment, Dick, but I’m sticking to one only: “There are behavioral hot spots all over the place, from those going through manifestation, to the problems on school buses to managing behavior in the hallways.”

    You’ve got it right here and wherever you wind up in the next few years, I hope you apply exactly those skills and competencies you’re acquiring. There are too few folks calmly and systematically applying behavior analysis strategies to educational problems, and there are plenty of problems to which they could be profitably applied.

  2. Dick Dalton at 1:26 pm #

    Thanks! I agree there are too few of us behaviorists. Behavioral technology is barely even touched outside of special education.

    And for that, I’m going to point some blame at those who are teaching the teachers. Or NOT teaching them, as the case may be. Many of the duties involved in this position are going to involve staff development, so maybe I’ll get a crack at it. In the meantime, I’ll keep working with the ones I can.


  3. johnwillslloyd at 6:55 am #

    Guilty, as charged. I haven’t taught behavior management for 20 years now, I guess. I do hope that those concepts are apparent to any who take classes from me, though.

    Note, however, that my colleague Jim Kauffman just received a nice award from the Association for Behavior Analysis (see He reported that he saw perhaps 10 professor-friends and they are people who know the right way to do things.

  4. Dick Dalton at 9:44 am #

    For sure, it is very much dependent on where a perspective teacher gets trained, as not all programs are equal. While I sort of pointed the finger at higher ed. folks, there are some very notable exceptions. If I hadn’t been trained by the likes of Paul Alberto (who literally co-wrote the book on ABA for Teachers) how would I ever know the difference? Would I even know enough to care?

    If I get this job, I’ll have to pay closer attention to the EBD blogs to get back up to speed as supporting those folks (who are perpetually new and inexperienced) is a major part of it.


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