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Career Story: Elementary School Special Ed Teacher

Elementary School Special Ed Teacher

Job Title: Special Education Teacher

Type of Company: I work for a school district in suburban Sacramento.

Education: California State University at Northridge

Previous Experience: I was a camp counselor for children with learning disabilities.

Job Tasks: I teach students who are having difficulty learning their grade level materials. Currently my job is in an elementary school where I assist students in grades 1 through 6. I do one of two types of teaching: I teach material that students may not have mastered, or I help them with their grade-level work. Many of my students come to my room for short amounts of time to work. They often bring assignments that they need assistance on. Many of the students can learn; but they learn more slowly than their peers.

I also test students to see if they qualify for special education services and fill out state and federal paperwork that they require to help substantiate their claims. I work with a variety of people on campus, including regular education teachers, office staff, principals and, sometimes, the most important people on staff: the yard duties. My job requires me to teach and sometimes to manage the students' behavior. So people management skills are important, especially if you have an assistant who can provide you with insights you might not come up with yourself.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of the job is seeing a student struggle and later master a skill that has given him so much heartache. The worst part is when parents or administrators get cranky about what needs to be done.

Job Tips:
1. Think carefully about the age group of children you might want to work with. 2. Use the opportunities the school district will give you for training. You never know when that information will come in handy. 3. Students with learning disabilities want to succeed, listen to what they are telling you! 4. Pay attention to the history and family life of your students; that information could help you figure out how to work with them most effectively.

Additional Thoughts: Working with kids is great. Special Educators are in short supply. Patience is important as well as a good knowledge of special education law.

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