This blog is based on a transcript from a video series. This has been formatted to fit a blog. All edits that have been made are for legibility purposes only.
What was your path to The Educator Academy?
I started as a high school social studies teacher. Then I stayed home for a long time and had a home daycare. After that, I then went back to work as a paraprofessional in special education at an elementary school. Now, I’m seeking my certification in special education and I’ll be certified in K-12. I wanted to make that switch to a certified position because I wanted the pay raise that comes with being a certified teacher. I found teaching fulfilling, so I still wanted to be in education and I really fell in love with special education when I was a paraprofessional. I felt like making the jump to being certified would help me out and also fulfill my life’s passion for education.
I received a lot of feedback from the teachers that I worked with while I was a paraprofessional that felt like teaching would be a good suit for me. I thought a little bit about being a classroom teacher in the regular education setting. When The Educator Academy approached me and asked me if I would be willing to go into special education, I decided that would work. So far it’s been an amazing experience and I’m thrilled that I’ve done it. I was a little overwhelmed by the idea of all of the extra paperwork involved in special education. But, the education we’ve received and the guidance we’ve received through The Educator Academy has really helped reduce the stress and make it seem more manageable.
What reservations did you have about making this?
The amount of paperwork is just really overwhelming, to make sure that everything is legally correct. We’re audited a lot, so you just need to really make sure that whenever you keep track of your records that they’re accurate and they’re up to the state standards. Having that extra task on my shoulders is a little bit unnerving, but it’s been made manageable and now I feel like I can figure that piece out. There is a lot of support around SPED teachers, so that’s helpful.
Did you have any reservations about making the switch from paraprofessional to certified teacher?
What helped me was understanding all the pieces that go into an IEP and an IEP goal. It’s easier to understand and it’s not as overwhelming as a para. You’re already doing all of the things with your students in the classroom and in the special education setting. Teaching in the special education setting is doing what you already do plus a little more paperwork. So if you can be organized and have an understanding of what’s required in the paperwork is probably the move for you.
What’s changed for you as you’ve transitioned from being a para to being a resident?
I feel a lot more prepared this time going into the classroom than I did the first time I graduated 20 years ago from an education program. I was in a very rural setting and now I’m in a totally different environment. There’s a lot that I just didn’t know. I feel very prepared to teach at my placement, and in Kansas City and I’m really excited about it. None of the knowledge that I’ve gained from The Educator Academy is a repeat of what I’ve already done. I just feel like it’s added to the knowledge that I’ve already had.
So how would you describe your residency year so far?
It’s been so much fun. I love my students. They’re the reason that I’m there. My school is very supportive. It’s a very supportive staff and administration. It’s been a really good experience. It far exceeds my expectations and I would highly recommend this program. If you’re already a para and thinking about doing this program, do it! You’re already doing the hard part by being in the classroom and helping students. You’re getting all of that knowledge being in all of those different classrooms. You can take that knowledge with you and build on that to become your own teacher.