Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Jun 29 2012

#43: “Leaving” Special Education

I was thinking by this time that I’d have written a lot more for this blog, reflecting on life and teaching and oh whoops June is almost over and I’ve accomplished nothing(1).

I guess the biggest news for my professional life next year was buried in an earlier post: I am going to be teaching general education next year.  Specifically, I am stepping into the position vacated by one of my co-teachers.  This is a big step.  No more caseload, going from three preps to one: yay!  Going from 4 periods of classroom teaching to 6 periods: eeeeeeeee.  The biggest adjustment there is stamina.  I’ve been fortunate the last couple of years to have conference periods and inclusion time to recharge and take care of other duties.  Now that time will be constrained during the day.  However, I’m hoping that with no caseload and way fewer preps, I won’t need that much time anyway!

My wife jokingly said that I am betraying special education by leaving.  I can understand that feeling, though.  There is a certain camaraderie that you develop being a Special Education teacher.  You’re the campus whipping boys in a lot of ways.  There’s resentment from general education teachers who don’t rightly know what it is exactly that you do all day.  When your state assessment scores come back and the special education subpops come back less than stellar, all eyes on you (2).  You have a set of shared experiences as a special education teacher that is pretty unique within the field.

The way that I’m choosing to view this is I will never stop seeing myself as a Special Education teacher.  I’m going to be working with the co-teacher that is hired to take on my position, and I consider a lot of my now-former department to be friends in addition to colleagues.  I can’t imagine not eating lunch with the LSSP and talking about family and video games and weird things our kids said/did in class.  Furthermore, it’s not like I’m going to have fewer kiddos with special ed services in my classes!  I’m going to see a lot of the same faces from my Algebra I class next year and they’ll be another year wiser.  I’m always going to be thinking about how to best modify and accommodate my lessons so that everyone can be successful.

Also happening: I interviewed for the lead math teacher position.  I was recommended to do so by the current lead math teacher who may or may not be leaving(3).  I have not found out my status there, but I’m looking forward to the opportunity to serve if selected.  Alternately, I’m happy to follow the lead of either of the other candidates.

By the way, if you aren’t reading Gary Rubinstein already, you need to start.  He’s been prolific this summer and he’s writing about things new TFA teachers/would-be world-changers need to read.


(1) Not entirely true!  I’ve gone swimming a lot, we found a new place to live (where we will move in 2 weeks), and I changed my middle name to my wife’s maiden name so now everyone in the fams will have the same family name when the lil one is born.

(2) Instead of the general education teachers who see them every single day.

(3) And I reckon if he stays he will continue to be lead which is 100% okay by me.

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    San Antonio
    High School
    Special Education

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