Special Education Teacher, A Dying Breed
Special Ed is my job,
People think it’s really hard,
To work with kids who throw big fits,
Teaching them to read and sit.
It’s not the kids who make it rough, you see,
It’s scheduling groups from 8-3.
30 minutes, daily, it’s on the IEP,
But not during reading, math or PE.
It’s only the beginning of the year,
But I can’t wait till Christmas is near.
Our consultant said, “It’s the 3rd grade laws and testing I fear,
Making special ed teachers cry this year.”
It’s true, I don’t like to see my 3rd graders fall apart,
Saying, “I don’t get this, I’ll never be smart.”
Yes, that’s one reason, but there are many more,
Hold that thought, my student won’t get off the floor.
Some people complain this kid’s too loud, always fussin’ in a crowd,
What they don’t know is how far he’s come, and that when he’s happy, he’s so much fun!
I have a meeting, I almost forgot, I’d like to teach, but I cannot.
Do I have all the papers that I need? Parent’s rights, IEP, Written Notice, (I need to pee),
Parent survey, oh that’s right, I need to leave those lesson plans I made last night.
Paras made of gold, they are patient, helpful and sometimes bold,
Especially when people’s hearts are cold.
They complain to me about this one’s mother, the teachers, and each other.
How can I deal with all of that, when I need to teach how to spell cat.
In comes the psychologist, more kids need you, I have no control when MEEGs are due.
So I cry about the staff, lack of time, testing and all of that,
But what really bothers me, is that I don’t know,
How to help my students grow.
So I read and learn, more and more each day,
Hoping to finally, find the way,
To help kids read, and make me say,
“Yes! It’s worth it to stay!”
Additional resources on attrition of special education teachers:
The Top 10 Challenges of Special Education Teachers
1. Lack of appreciation
2. Parent support
3. Public support
4. Pape work
6. Training and supervising paraprofessionals
7. Collaborating with general education teachers
8. Data collection
9. Evidence of student growth
10. Variability of student’s needs
Caseload in Special Education: An Integration of Research Findings
“Increase in caseloads = increase in meeting times and paperwork demands
Researchers suspect that large caseloads contribute to the high attrition rate among special educators
10% of all special educators left teaching within 6 years”
(Russ, Chiang, Rylance, Bongers, 2001) Retrieved from:
Widespread Attrition for Special Ed Teachers (Retrieved from: http://www.advantagepress.com/newsletters/mar05news.asp)
Reasons for leaving
When special education teachers are asked about why they left or intend to leave they site a variety of reasons. Here are a few:
• Large caseloads
• Burdensome paperwork
• Problems with behavior management
• Lack of administrative support
• Difficulties relating to general education colleagues, and parents.
Often a combination of these factors leads to a final decision not to stay in the field.