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Career Story: Special Education Teacher In An Elementary School

Special Education Teacher In An Elementary School

Job Title: Special Education Teacher

Education: Masters in Education, Harvard University •• BA in Special Education, Trinity College, Washington, D.C.

Previous Experience: *Special Education Teacher at a private 766 school with students having language and learning disabilities *Special Education aide accompanying a student with significant disabilities to his general education junior high classes (English and History)

Job Tasks: I work as a special education teacher in an elementary school. I work with individual students and small groups of students who have special needs. The children I work with have all been diagnosed as needing specialized support. Currently, I teach reading to first, second, and fourth grade students. The first and second graders are learning to decode and encode single and multisyllabic words. They are learning to read stories-both fiction and nonfiction and answer questions either orally and in writing about the text. I also teach the students strategies to increase their comprehension of the written word.

I work in the general education classroom providing math support. This may be in small groups where I provide more examples for students to learn a specific skill. I may also break down the skill to smaller, parts.

I evaluate students who may have special needs. I test students in language arts and math. I write up reports and meet with parents to review the results. If it is determined that a child has a disability, I will write an Individual Education Program which includes goals that should be achieved by the child.

I meet regularly with classroom teachers, giving suggestions regarding academics, and behaviors.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of my job is teaching reading. I love helping children learn to sound out words and begin to read sentences and stories. I enjoy helping children learn to "think" and write in complete sentences. I enjoy teaching children strategies to increase their comprehension. I enjoy working with different teachers and learning new ways of teaching skills. I love watching children I worked with in grade 1 or 2, graduate in grade 5.

The worst part of my job is the paperwork required by Federal law when working with children having disabilities. MCAS takes away too many days from learning. It is very stressful for elementary school students.

Job Tips:
1. Please make sure that you enjoy working with children. Be clear what age group best suits your personality-elementary, middle school, or high school.

2. Become proficient in a specific area - reading, math, science.

3. Make sure you are computer/technology savvy! In Special Education most paperwork needs to be done on the computer.

4. An elementary teacher needs to be able to engage the students.

Additional Thoughts: Teaching is a very tough, rewarding career. Children are refreshingly honest, which will keep your days from being boring. There is more accountability than in the past, and teachers do not have as much opportunity to be creative.

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