Around the country, many people are getting their degrees to be teachers and travelling just to find a job. According to the Occupational Employment Statistics Survey, there are more than 6 million teachers working at the elementary, middle, and high school level in the US.
While some may say that there are too many teachers and not enough positions, the amount of people in the special education department is decreasing at an alarming rate.
Special education teachers work with students who have a range of learning, mental and physical disabilities. These teachers normally have one goal: to help kids.
Even though they get to help students every day, they are becoming burdened by the time-consuming paperwork and strict regulations.
Helping kids is becoming a smaller part of the job, and as a result, many are leaving the profession.
“The paperwork is overwhelming,” said high school special education teacher Mrs. Sally Padula. “It takes me approximately three to four hours just to write an individualized education plan. We have recently had to write revaluations, which take about five to six hours each at a time.”
According to NPR, there are forty-nine states that have reported a shortage of special education teachers. About twelve percent of Special Education teachers leave the profession (this is double the rate of general education teachers.)
A the root of the shortage of special education teachers: many teachers cite the long hours and paperwork.
Special education teacher Mr. Brandon Stewart added, “It is difficult to get around that fact when there is a high level of legal responsibility. That responsibility is stressful on its own, since we often deal with the students’ legal rights and make sure that we are meeting students’ needs. It is very difficult to balance that part of the job with actually teaching, which is the reason I went into this career.”
It is not uncommon for a special education teacher to stay long hours after their school day ends to type up required paperwork and write reports on each students’ progress. Very rarely does the day ever end early.
“The most trying issue at times is attempting to plan how to fit classes working with students into a week that is often also filled with meetings and paperwork,” added Mr. Stewart.
Whenever someone becomes a Special Education teacher, they wish to make a difference in children’s lives, but everything else involved in the job makes it hard to be an enjoyable occupation.
Special education teachers have a huge impact on the students that they teach on a daily basis. But with a shortage of people willing to do the job, what will happen to these kids without their teachers?
At Bellwood-Antis, the school district is very fortunate to have great people working in the Special Education department. From the elementary school to the high school, Bellwood has people who are dedicated to do their job and make a difference in their student’s lives.
Sometimes the work of the special education teachers go unnoticed, but that is because you never hear them complaining about the work they have to do, so many people are unaware of just how much they work every day.
“There are lesson plans to do and meetings to attend, and when I am at a meeting, that means that I can’t be working with the kids,” said Mrs. Padula. “Very rarely do I ever leave the school before four-thirty. It can get stressful, but overall, the rewards are worth it. I’m here to help the kids.”
Clearly, it is not an easy job, but while the amount of people in the profession is decreasing, the ones who continue to do their job put a lot of time into their students.
“It is a very difficult process, and it is unfortunate that sometimes it takes away from the time the teachers have with the kids. I commend them for their hard work to make sure everything is legally done right,” Bellwood-Antis High School principal Mr. Schreier said.