Trying to Keep Ahead (while being behind)

25 Feb

Sorry to leave you all hanging like that, if there was anyone who felt that way.  I wasn’t even intending to post today except that I was catching up with Reflective Teacher  who graced me with the title of “The hardest working guy in the business” or something like that.  Funnily enough, this hardest working guy was on vacation!


One of the benefits of starting school in July is getting a week-long winter break in February and I’ve used it catch up tree pruning, gardening and some family time.   And blog reading, as I’m so woefully behind.  I really really needed the break but it is not without cost.  We have one week until the GAA is due.  Yeah, that thing.  I’ll just be glad to have it finished.


Every year, almost without exception, I always wonder if I will be back next year.  I never take my position for granted and am always looking around for whatever.  Last year it was the behaviorist position.  I’m actually glad that one didn’t work out as the person who got it is that good and it is that big of a job.


This year I’m having thoughts about a different sort of move.  I like what I do, at least as far as the kids.  But the extra work of the alternate assessment has totally sucked all the time away from what I would and should normally be doing with them.  Between that and LEAing IEP meetings I rarely get to see them at all! 


It was while LEAing IEP meetings that I realized there is an opportunity out there that I just might be able to take advantage of, if I so desired.  The students who were having IEPs last week were higher functioning and were in almost all regular education classes.  Some of these students were in serious need of extra help and were not getting it.  Many of them were in a resource class where the teacher just left two weeks ago and all that’s there is the para.  There are collaborative classes, especially for history, computers and some English.  But there are virtually no special education collaborative teachers available for math or science.


Again, this is a bit of fall-out from NCLB.  According to NCLB, students are to be taught be teachers who are Highly Qualified (HQ).  If a student is in a regular education class, they will have a regular education teacher who is HQ.  No problems, right?  However, at least the way the HQ provision is being applied at our high school the collaborative Sp. Ed. teachers also have to be HQ in the subject they are collaborating.  IOW, the collab history teacher needs to be HQ in special education and history.  History is no problem at all, since many special educators are old social studies majors.  However, how many old math or science majors are out there who also have degrees in special education?  I do know of one science teacher who did special education but he is now doing science full-time. 


That is the way this wind is going to blow, folks.  There is a lot of talk about requiring teachers to get dual certification.  The problem is that anyone with the certificate in math or science will teach those subjects instead of staying in special education.  This is one reason we have such a shortage of HQ special educators is because the pipeline flows in such a way as they leave to teach something else as soon as they can.  And this field is not getting any easier.


So what does this have to do with me and those IEPs?  So many students need to be in collaborative classes in biology and science and the school doesn’t offer it because they don’t have a teacher HQ in both science and sp. ed.  Sometimes they’ll staff a para in there, but that’s really not a substantial help especially since the newest teachers are often the ones who are saddled with all the special ed. kids.


And do we need to talk about NCLB and AYP?  There is a dire need here.


It just so happens I might be able to get HQ in science fairly quickly.  At least biology plus I’m also HQ in Vo-Ag.  And those folks get creamed with gobs of special ed. kids!


I’m just thinking about it and looking into it.  There are a lot of factors to look at.  I’m looking at the fact I’m getting older and less able to lift these kids who need tons of lifting and who are weighing tons.  I’m looking at the wearing affects of being the undertaker year after year. 


One benefit of special education is the ability to try some different things which I think is important to avoid getting stale or just burned out.  I would rather fade out than burn out any day and if things stay on the present trajectory there will be more sp. ed. teachers being carried out on stretchers.    I’m just trying to stay ahead of the game for the next 20 years.





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