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Career Story: Special Education Kindergarten Teacher

Special Education Kindergarten Teacher

Job Title: Special Education Kindergarten Teacher

Type of Company: I work for the Kenosha Unified School District.

Education: BS, Education, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Previous Experience: I worked as a nanny for a family with three children for five years. I then worked as a paraprofessional at a Waukesha elementary school, helping teach children with special needs in grades K-6.

Job Tasks: I teach 5 year-old children who have special needs. These include, but are not limited to, Down Syndrome, Autism, Emotionally Disturbed, Emotional Behavioral Disorder, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Speech and Language, and Cognitively Delayed. I work side-by-side with a regular education teacher. As she teaches the curriculum to the "normal" children, I take the work and make it so my students can understand it and are able to complete it. If there is a worksheet that involves sounding out letters and some of my students can't, I take the worksheet and make it into a different assignment that will teach my students what they need to learn (knowing letters). I also work with their behaviors. I make behavioral plans that show my students visually how their day is going. I give them stickers for every subject/activity of the day. If they do not behave (or have a meltdown) it is my job to remove them from the classroom and talk to them so they can calm down.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of my job is seeing the growth made from the beginning of the school year to the end of the school year. It is very rewarding to see my students come so far and make so many gains because of what I have taught them.

The worst part about my job is working with another teacher who does not have much respect for special education students and who denigrates my students and me. She does not allow me to incorporate some of my ideas because she has better ideas of her own, she thinks. It is very sad when I see her treat the special education students with disrespect.

Job Tips: This is a very challenging career, but also very rewarding. The most important thing to remember in this kind of job, is keeping data. Record everything (from parent conversations, to working with a child during a meltdown, to when something took place). Also, another great thing to do is monitor each child's progress. It is important to use charts and make graphs on each child's goals so at the end of each week, you can see the progress they are making or not making and make changes to your teaching accordingly. The final tip I can give is to be patient. These children need us in their lives and it does not help to rush them. They will come along. Not many people see the possibilities in these young people so we need to love them and give them the best education they deserve.

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