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Career Story: Special Education Teacher At An Alternative School

Special Education Teacher At An Alternative School

Job Title: I Am A Special Education Teacher.

Type of Company: I work for an alternative school in Franklin County, North Carolina that serves students in grades six through twelve.

Education: BS, Special Education •• certifications in mental retardation, specific learning disabilities, and behavioral/emotional handicaps; HOUSSE certified

Previous Experience: I have worked for 33 years in Franklin County Schools. I retired after 30 years and stayed out of teaching for six months but felt compelled to return to it.

Job Tasks: Our school serves students who have been suspended both long- and short-term. I am one of the computer lab facilitators in the long-term room. We work with students in grades 6 through 12, employing a computer program called NovaNet. Students get a daily three hour session, five days a week (Monday through Friday). The first group arrives at 8:30 and stays until 11:30. The second group arrives at 1:00 and stays until 4:00. The middle school students work on language arts, math, science, and social studies. The high school students are able to retake a minimum of two courses each semester. If a student can complete a course in 35 or 52 hours (depending on how badly he failed it), he can likely retrieve more than two courses in a semester. However, if he comes to us in the middle of a semester and has to continue where he left off, he can only retake a maximum of two courses. If a high school student is in a course that requires an end-of-semester test, he has to remain in those classes. Some students are placed here by our superintendent for reasons other than discipline. Those students follow the same rules for course work as the disciplinary students.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of my job is the confidence I have that we can make a difference with these students. The worst part is that, because of the nature of the set-up of the program, there is very little direct teaching.

Job Tips:
1.Be certain that you have a real desire to work with difficult students who need extra attention.

2. Work on your people skills. You have to deal with the students AND their parents.

3. Brush up on all your subjects. In this job you have to help students with whatever course they need to take.

Additional Thoughts: In this job you have to be ready to deal with explosive behaviors at the drop of a hat. If you bring an attitude with you to work, then you're pretty much doomed for the day. These kids need you to be on an even keel every day so they stand a better chance of making it through the year.

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