Special Education Information


#1

I was hoping there might be people here who have some experience with special education, either as parents or as educators.

I have heard that the need for special education is growing. I have thought about possibly looking into this field.

I already have a B.A. and an M.A. although neither are in education. This would be a new direction for me.

I taught high school English for a year, and while I enjoyed teaching the subject matter and found certain aspects rewarding, I found the disciplinary issues extremely problematic.

When teaching at the high school, I noticed that the learning center had a different atmosphere, and even the gentleman in charge there had a more mellow personality than that of most teachers in the classroom. He once related to me that he tried teaching in the classroom but the kids were all over the place. I myself am not very extroverted or energetic but relatively calm, and I wondered if maybe this would be a better direction for me.

Can anybody tell me what the special education field is like? If I were to go into special education, I think I would work best with students who have cognitive problems but who are not openly hostile or have violence issues. However, I do not know much about how the special education field is organized and so would appreciate guidance.

I appreciate any information you can give me! Thank you.
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#2

I have knowledge about the field, though not enough to address all of your concerns.

I think the type of children that you would be working with depends on your place of employment. Special education includes a wide range of kids. The local schools around my area have a department for the special education students. There are teachers who specifically are there to help only students with certain problems, while others are there to address the students as a whole while still aiding with equal individual help. It’d be for the best though for you to be prepared and willing to undertake students of all circumstances though, I feel.
Working in special education is a very rewarding field and I feel that if you do decided to switch directions into it that you would not be disappointed.


#3

CountrySinger knows quite a bit about this topic, she's going to school for it. I predict that she will grace this thread with her CountrySinginess before long. :)


#4

I’ve investigated Special Education as a possible career path and discovered some very interesting things in the process. For one, “special education” refers to a whole host of services - resource rooms, therapists (speech, occupational therapy, adaptive P.E., psychological), inclusive classrooms, self-contained classrooms, tutoring for English-language learners, small group aides, one-on-one aides, personal care assistants, services for gifted and talented students…and the list goes on. Additionally, the types of services and adaptations that “count” as special education can vary widely from district to district.

In my (very, very limited) experience, most public school Special Ed. teachers work to accommodate a huge variety of student needs. In a public school setting, it could be very difficult to work with just one type of special needs student, unless you were a highly trained therapist for a particular learning need. However, there are a number of private schools and tutoring firms that provide very specialized services for certain categories of students.

What is most incredible to me is how things have changed since I was in grade school. I remember that, in elementary school, almost all of the students with unique learning needs were in a self-contained classroom. Some of my classmates would go out of the classroom a few times a week to meet with speech therapists, or to get additional support from a literacy coach. I graduated high school in 2005, and at that time, there were still separate classes (called “transitional” level classes) for many of the special needs students. I substitute-taught at my old high school last week. They have since eliminated transitional classes and integrated special needs students into the traditional academic program. Some students or groups of students have aides that travel from class to class with them, while others receive support in the resource room.

Since you already hold an advanced degree in another field, you might consider “auditioning” special education before you make a commitment to more training. Contact your local school district to see about becoming a substitute teacher (if your schedule allows) or volunteering in a classroom or after-school program. You could also research respite programs in your area - these are organizations that provide trained caregivers so that families with special needs children can get an occasional night out.


#5

I was working towards becoming a special needs teacher, but because they are doing away with self-contained classrooms I changed my mind. Some children were forced, unnecessarly, into those classrooms.

This is in middle/HS school, mind you. I think inclusive classrooms are fine for grade 4 or 5 and below.

But others…it did them a world of good. And to me it was much better than having a 13yo being followed by 1-2 personal assistants in order to be in a regular classroom. It was SO painful to watch their social torment. I don’t think I ever saw one kid with a friend.

On the other hand what I saw in the good special-needs classrooms were kids learning the same things as in other classrooms but at their own pace. They also had each other and that seemed to make a huge difference.

The self-contained classrooms I visited had a mix of kids…from autism,to cp to down’s syndrome to selective mutism. They weren’t always friends, they weren’t always happy, but they really seemed “with it” and funny and to “get it”…and their banter was HYSTERICAL. :smiley: So much more fun to listen that the 900 detail about pokemon that the other kids were talking about.

I also believe in schools for the blind/deaf. Those types of schools are quicky falling by the wayside, too. (some deserve it, some don’t)

Get some field work in before you make a decision.


#6

If you found disciplinary issues extremely problematic in teaching high school English, you need to be aware that the disciplinary issues involved in any Special Ed classroom can make those of the average high school English classroom look trivial by comparison. The number of kids who end up in Special Ed because of severe abuse issues and emotional problems often meets or exceeds those who are there because of physical/cognitive problems.

If you enjoyed teaching high school English, but feel yourself to be somewhat lacking the extreme extroversion, energy, nerves of steel , and patience demanded by the Special Ed classroom, you might seriously want to investigate becoming a reading specialist a *literacy specialist *an English-as-a-second-language specialist or a language rehabilitation therapist


#7

I worked as a teacher at a mental hospital. It was almost like tutoring because the classes were either one on one or possibly two in a class. The students were in the hospital because they were given the choice of jail or the hospital. In the hospital setting I was doing more “therapy” than teaching of subjects.
Then, after a few years of raising my own children I signed up to do substitute teaching in the public schools. Because of my special ed credential I was given classes of either the emotionally disturbed or the students with below average IQ’s. There was a world of difference between the two assignments. It is almost impossible to substitute teach the emotionally disturbed because they spend all their energy testing the substitute teachers. They need the security of the same mommy or daddy figure as their teacher. The below average IQ students were a dream to be with. They made me feel like a million dollars and smoothered me with love.


#8

[quote="former_Catholic, post:6, topic:187147"]
If you found disciplinary issues extremely problematic in teaching high school English, you need to be aware that the disciplinary issues involved in any Special Ed classroom can make those of the average high school English classroom look trivial by comparison. The number of kids who end up in Special Ed because of severe abuse issues and emotional problems often meets or exceeds those who are there because of physical/cognitive problems.

If you enjoyed teaching high school English, but feel yourself to be somewhat lacking the extreme extroversion, energy, nerves of steel , and patience demanded by the Special Ed classroom, you might seriously want to investigate becoming a reading specialist a literacy specialist *an *English-as-a-second-language specialist or a language rehabilitation therapist

[/quote]

I have thought about English-as-a-second-language, too. Thanks for the advice.


#9

Yes, thank you for your story. I really do not want to be in the situation again in which the students constantly are testing me and purposely trying to distract me, etc. That is why I am trying to learn more, and whether it possible to work with those who have below average IQ, Down Syndrome, autism or other related problems, without being in the situation of having to work with the emotionally disturbed students who have problems with the law, etc.

I’ve always felt drawn towards teaching and helping people in some capacity, and right now I feel rather out of place working in the financial industry.


#10

[quote="purplesunshine, post:5, topic:187147"]
I was working towards becoming a special needs teacher, but because they are doing away with self-contained classrooms I changed my mind. Some children were forced, unnecessarly, into those classrooms.

This is in middle/HS school, mind you. I think inclusive classrooms are fine for grade 4 or 5 and below.

But others....it did them a world of good. And to me it was much better than having a 13yo being followed by 1-2 personal assistants in order to be in a regular classroom. It was SO painful to watch their social torment. I don't think I ever saw one kid with a friend.

On the other hand what I saw in the good special-needs classrooms were kids learning the same things as in other classrooms but at their own pace. They also had each other and that seemed to make a huge difference.

The self-contained classrooms I visited had a mix of kids....from autism,to cp to down's syndrome to selective mutism. They weren't always friends, they weren't always happy, but they really seemed "with it" and funny and to "get it"....and their banter was HYSTERICAL. :D So much more fun to listen that the 900 detail about pokemon that the other kids were talking about.

I also believe in schools for the blind/deaf. Those types of schools are quicky falling by the wayside, too. (some deserve it, some don't)

Get some field work in before you make a decision.

[/quote]

I remember there always being a special ed classroom from elementary to middle school, and even in high school, though the school was so big I do not know where it was located.


closed #11

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