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Career Story: Special Education Tester In An Urban Middle School

Special Education Tester In An Urban Middle School

Job Title: Teacher

Type of Company: A middle school in southern New Hampshire

Education: BA, Fitchburg State College

Previous Experience: I worked as a teaching paraprofessional.

Job Tasks: I am the Special Education Tester at the Middle School in an urban setting. I also teach structured reading to moderate special needs students.

On a typical day I teach fifth and sixth grade students in a structured reading program, called Wilson Reading, which is primarily for students who may be dyslexic or require a more intensive reading program. After an hour of this, I test student(s) who've been recommended for CORE testing or re-evaluation. (CORE evaluation determines whether a student qualifies for special education because of a specific learning disability. Re-evaluation is testing on a student who has previously been determined to have a disability and is then 're-qualified'.)

During the next hour and a half I do lunch and recess duty primarily with fifth and sixth grade students. In the afternoon I work on structured reading with seventh and eighth grade students for an hour apiece. At the end of the day, I do dismissal duty, monitoring the students as they leave the building and watching out for any safety infractions.

Some days I have to alter my schedule to go to area private schools or alternative schools and testing students who otherwise would be assigned to be tested at the local public school where I work.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The worst part of my work is canceling class due to a meeting or a test that can't wait. On occasion a meeting must be scheduled to accommodate a parents schedule. Sometimes the testing schedule is heavy due to state or federal regulations.

the best part is watching the progress of students, especially someone whom I have worked with for 2 or more years and who's begun to make strides. I am fortunate to be able to follow some students from fifth to eighth grade and see the progress they make in the course of four years.

Job Tips:
1. Teaching involves sooooo much more than giving instructions.

2. Try to understand the developmental and cognitive level of the students that you are teaching in order to make the most of your lessons.

3. Be a "student" yourself and listen to your peers, the school staff (administration, cafeteria and custodian workers, etc.) and the parents and community (after school staff, health workers, etc.). You will be amazed at what you can learn, how you can learn, and what this means to you and your students.

Additional Thoughts: I am continually amazed by my job as a special education teacher. I enjoy my work because the rewards are great; but the job is often draining. I feel pain when a student is struggling academically as well as socially. I feel joy when I see a student go from a beginning reader (in sixth grade) to a third grade reader (in eighth grade).

I would feel joy if I could make students, parents and other teachers understand that Special Education means that a student learns in a special and unique way (as opposed to a student who is unable to learn at all.)

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