My goodbye was expected since I was hired for this position as a long-term substitute. That means I was hired to fill a position that they could not find a certified teacher. The job was mine as long as a certified special education teacher did not apply to assume the job during the year. My contract expires May 31st.
At one time there was the possibility I might be able to keep this position into the next school year but as it turned out, they recently made a County decision to eliminate more than 10 special education positions which included the position I am filling now.
So, what? It’s just a job!
I wish this were that simple. It has been just 9 months out of an otherwise long professional life and many careers. But teaching is more than any other job I have ever had. In fact it is the first job I have had over an elongated period of time where I actually had the chance to share knowledge with young people. I should clarify that I have done that as a father for many years but my kids rarely have to sit in chairs in front of me for more than 30 minutes at a time. Not even at dinner time.
I went for lunch the other day in the school cafeteria. As I was walking out, I stopped and took a good look at the 400+ students who happened to have 3rd lunch. I realized I am going to miss this place. The administration and teaching staff I will never think about, but the students I have taught will have places in my long term memory. No bad memories.
Since the beginning of the year, the school’s administration, has directed me to attend all teacher education and teacher meetings that took place during regular school hours. On a rare occassion that has included short meetings after 3PM. (That is the time teachers can leave the premesis). I have participated since I consider myself an equal to every other teacher in the school. Although my tenure ends at the finish of the school year, I have the same responsibilities as if I were considered a permanent certified teacher. I teach children like any other teacher. I create my lesson plans. I grade papers and enter grades into the system. Most importantly I go home remembering what my students did that day. As I look back when I was a short-term substitute, I did the same thing.
This past Friday we have a 2-hour early departure. The teachers were required to attend what they call a Teacher’s Senate meeting. I am not allowed to vote, much less even ask questions, but I am required to attend. In this meeting it would have been better had I not been there. Towards the middle of the meeting, someone from the Special Education Department announced recent cuts in staffing by the County Board of Education. This person reported that 2 Multi-categorical Special Ed teaching positions were being eliminated for next year. She added these two position are being held currently by “Long-Term Substitutes”. I was in the auditorium. The other guy, who ironically has been here as a non-certified LTS for 3 years (and the school Track Coach) was not there but I don’t think she knew it. What bothered me was a BIG REMINDER, that LTS’s don’t have names. She could have mentioned the names of these LTS’s so the rest of the Teaching Staff (100+) were aware who we were but then again, why offer any respect for a teacher who is NOT ON HER LEVEL!!!
ON TO HAPPIER MEMORIES
My 1st Period class is my “Self-Contained” class. All of the students in this class have IEPs for any plethora of reasons. I honestly dont beleive any of them need the class. In fact it is my understand that the prime unspoken reason that my position has been eliminated is because its main existence is because I taught this self-contained class. If this is true, I would agree that these students would do just as well, if not better, in an all-inclusion class with an Aid or Co-Teacher.
This takes me to the rest of the day where I am a collaborate “Co-Teacher”. This kind of blows my thinking our the window so I gather they would need to have Aids where needed to cover for a lack of the two collaborate multi-categorical special education teachers they are eliminating. The other teacher also had his own self-contained Social Studies class and the rest were collaborative.
MY SELF-CONTAINED CLASS – WHAT A GREAT GROUP OF KIDS!!!
There have been times, during the 1st Semester, when some members of the School’s leadership gave up completely on some of my kids. Each time I would be told that they had given up on one of them, I stepped in and said they could be turned around. The more I thought about their “opinions” the more I blamed their lack of trust in me as a Multi-categorical Special Education teacher. After all, I have no training or certification in this position.
Note: In case you are wondering how I got this job in the first place? I am a licensed long-term substitute teacher. As a “substitute” I can hold ANY teaching position without training in that field. Ironically, I do have street smarts when it comes to IEPs, behavioral disorders and learning disabilities. I even wrote a BOOK.
I can’t name or get too specific with my kids so let me offer some generalizations that go for all of them.
- They have all come a long way educationally. More than 1/2 the sudents have A’s. No grades less than C.
- Where I wrote referrals (discipline) almost every day for someone, I rarely have to do this anymore.
- I have come a long way as a teacher. I have learned that these kids do a lot better with Interactive styles of education than textbook learning. I have also become a Discovery Education fanatic.
- BEST NEWS! The “kids” who leadership gave up on in the 1st Semester, are ALL A+ STUDENTS.