Hey there! I have been teaching for 15 years. I was originally in nursing school and ended up changing my major to special education. I do live in Georgia, teach in Georgia and have three of my four college degrees from colleges in Georgia. My BS is in Mental Handicaps with a minor in Health Education
I started in elementary MoID/SID/PID/Autism-teaching K-3, then high school MoID/SID/PID/Autism, then middle school (yes! 6-8!) interrelated disabilities-working with children with specific learning disabilities, mental retardation, and emotional & behavior disorders. Along the way, I picked up a Master’s degree in Interrelated Disabilities and my EdS (Educational Specialist-what they award you if you graduate ABD-all but dissertation-from a PhD program, its commonly called a 6 year degree) in Special Education with a Reading Endorsement. I’ve added regular education certification in every content area from PreK thru 8th grade and am certified to teach severe disabilities up until age 21. Why so many degrees that sound horribly braggy? Because when you are a teacher, you have to constantly work towards keeping up your certification by either taking trainings and attending workshops, or by adding degrees and certifications. Every time you add a degree, you go up on the state payscale. I am now teaching elementary students with Autism-in a self contained class-it’s a job that I dearly love working with a student population that is near and dear to my heart.
Pros and cons? It depends on the day that you ask me. I adored working with middle school kids-they can be wild or mild-but they are at a neat age-just on the cusp of discovering who they are, and in return, you do a whole of lot of discovery about who YOU are. Elementary grades-not as “easy” as it used to be (not that it was every really that easy) changes to the state curriculum have teachers teaching things in LOWER elementary grades that used to be higher elementary and sometimes even the begining of middle school. The technical expertise that you are expected to have in today’s classroom rivals that of any company-it leaves Excell and Access in the dust-powerpoints and word are archaic in todays classroom-it is one of the very best fields outside of the IT world in which to stay abreast of the most current technology. I have brand new computers in my classroom, we are wireless, paperless, remote technology, etc.
Cons? Paperwork. Right in the face of telling you that we are paperless. The sheer volume of paperwork that we are expected to complete as a teacher is alot-add to it the amount of paperwork that you are expected to do as a special education teacher, and it drives some people out of the field. I am dedicated to my job, but the amount of paperwork makes it very difficult to do what I LOVE to do and the reason that I work with children…is to actually work with children. Most veteran teachers will tell you…teaching is the easy part…I just wish I got to do it more often.
With the “testing regime” we are living in, it is harder and harder for the classroom teacher to work towards excellence on an individual student level when testing is high stakes-promotion or retention, your school making AYP, evaluations, and so much more is riding on test scores. I see the regular education teachers that I work with dealing with more and more in the regular classroom every day-in a time and age when auxillary personnel are being cut due to budget restrictions that would make even an accountant’s head spin.
I tell you all of that to tell you this….I LOVE my job. Despite the tough stuff…I LOVE MY JOB! I get to do what I LOVE for a living, which is working with children with special needs. How many people get to say that?