I have spent my entire career working with children with special needs. Immediately following my graduation from college, I got a job with the local school system as a speech therapist. I had a case load of 100+ children in three different elementary schools. I provided services which included auditory screening, speech and language assessments, individual and group therapy as well as consulting with the classroom teachers. I left that job because my husband was transferred to another city.
At that time I decided to pursue my Master’s Degree. I got a degree providing services for children with special needs. I got a job teaching in a middle school, working with students with mild disabilities. I had a full classroom of students with a variety of academic and behavioral issues. After a few years with the middle school group, I moved up to the high school to teach the older students. The responsibility of planning instruction, grading assignments, writing IEPs and meeting with parents was huge, but I enjoyed it.
While teaching at the high school I pursued an administrative license in special education. Once the classwork was completed, I found a job as an assistant director for special education. In that role, I was responsible for the preschool programs in seven school systems, as well as finding services for students who could not be served in the public school setting. As you might imagine, these responsibilities involved mountains of paperwork and hundreds of meetings.
I decided to retire. I had accrued 37 years of teaching experience and was ready to slow down. Retirement was more of a challenge than I had anticipated. I found I had way too much time on my hands and decided to look for a job.
I checked the local school job openings and applied for a job as an instructional assistant in a moderate/severe disabilities classroom. I thought I had enough experience to be a competent assistant. I got the job and have found that being an assistant is the best job ever! I have the joy of working with students with a variety of special needs, but have no paperwork or meetings to attend. I don’t have to grade anything or write a report about any of the students. I get to go home at the end of the day and don’t have to take anything with me. I spend the evenings doing what I choose, not working on stuff I couldn’t complete during the day.
The other staff members treat all of the instructional assistants in a professional manner. I feel valued and welcome in the school where I am working. The teacher I work with is excellent and is dedicated to the students and their needs. It’s great to see them progress.
The parents of the students in the class are great about showing their appreciation of what we do. I have never heard “thank you” so often. I feel like I have found the job I always wanted, the opportunity to work with students without all the tedious record keeping, documentation, planning, and conferencing. I would recommend this job to any retired teacher. It helps me remember why I chose the career I did.