Special Ed. Teacher With Small Family

Post Reply
cfugs81
Posts: 5
Joined: Thu Aug 22, 2013 3:47 pm

Special Ed. Teacher With Small Family

Post by cfugs81 »

This is my first time posting but I have been reading quite a bit on the boards. I am a Sped Teacher (Master's degree) in a middle school in NYC with 9 years experience and a solid resume (Coach of the Year - Varsity Soccer, Mentoring and Supervising in Fellows program, etc.) I've taught every area of special education (self-contained, resource, inclusion) I've taught mainstream classes, top classes, in almost every subject as well. I am aware of all the issues involved in teaching Special Education abroad, especially with my non-teaching wife and a 1 year old child. I have read conflicting comments on the boards, some saying I should find something relatively easy and some saying it will be tough with my family. My wife is an acupuncturist and she wants to try to treat the local expat community as well, if possible.

I have a few questions maybe some of you can answer:
1) Do you think I will be a desired candidate or does the family situation really deter schools?
2) Can I continue to coach soccer, baseball, etc? Does my experience in this area help?
3) Does my supervisory/mentor experience qualify me for a admin or program head position even though I don't have an admin license?
4) Is it difficult or even possible to approach schools and propose the idea of helping to start or revamp a special ed program? Is this advisable or would I be opening a can of worms?
5) We are a bit flexible and would not mind some places in Asia, or S. America, but realistically, what are the chances of getting a job in Western Europe for us?
6) Why is it so important to sign up with one of these search companies and go through recruiters? There are lists of international schools everywhere. Can't you send your resumes, CV and whatnot directly to the schools? What are the pros and cons of doing it this way vs. going through search companies?
7) Are the recruiters at the fairs looking for Sped teachers regularly?

I hope answering some of these questions will help others as well. Any info would be greatly appreciated.
wrldtrvlr123
Posts: 1171
Joined: Sat Feb 06, 2010 10:59 am
Location: Japan

Re: Special Ed. Teacher With Small Family

Post by wrldtrvlr123 »

[quote="cfugs81"]This is my first time posting but I have been reading quite a bit on the boards. I am a Sped Teacher (Master's degree) in a middle school in NYC with 9 years experience and a solid resume (Coach of the Year - Varsity Soccer, Mentoring and Supervising in Fellows program, etc.) I've taught every area of special education (self-contained, resource, inclusion) I've taught mainstream classes, top classes, in almost every subject as well. I am aware of all the issues involved in teaching Special Education abroad, especially with my non-teaching wife and a 1 year old child. I have read conflicting comments on the boards, some saying I should find something relatively easy and some saying it will be tough with my family. My wife is an acupuncturist and she wants to try to treat the local expat community as well, if possible.

I have a few questions maybe some of you can answer:
1) Do you think I will be a desired candidate or does the family situation really deter schools?
2) Can I continue to coach soccer, baseball, etc? Does my experience in this area help?
3) Does my supervisory/mentor experience qualify me for a admin or program head position even though I don't have an admin license?
4) Is it difficult or even possible to approach schools and propose the idea of helping to start or revamp a special ed program? Is this advisable or would I be opening a can of worms?
5) We are a bit flexible and would not mind some places in Asia, or S. America, but realistically, what are the chances of getting a job in Western Europe for us?
6) Why is it so important to sign up with one of these search companies and go through recruiters? There are lists of international schools everywhere. Can't you send your resumes, CV and whatnot directly to the schools? What are the pros and cons of doing it this way vs. going through search companies?
7) Are the recruiters at the fairs looking for Sped teachers regularly?

I hope answering some of these questions will help others as well. Any info would be greatly appreciated.[/quote]

Hi. I'm a US trained SPED teacher with a similar professional/coaching background. I've taught in the US, Africa, Asia and now Europe.

In no particular order:

I think you have a very good chance of finding a good to great school that would be interested in you. Two dependents to one teacher is not great, but one child, not yet of school age lessens the impact of that to some degree.

Desire to coach and experience doing it successfully is a definite plus at IS and all schools you would be interested in would have sports programs (and at some schools there is a huge emphasis placed on their sports programs).

There is nothing stopping you from approaching a school to start or revamp a SPED program but there is also not much upside in you doing it. If they are thinking of it, they will be advertizing for qualified staff or will have experts close at hand advising them already. Virtually all half-way decent schools will have at least one to a few SPED teachers, even if they are expected to cover the whole school or section. Virtually all of these will be called Learning Support and unless the school mentions SPED, special needs, disabilities or inclusion on their website or job ad, you will be best served to play up your experience as Learning Support as special needs is a touchy/awkward subject for many schools (lathough being able to work successfully with any group is certainly nothing to hide).

Some schools may be able to envision you in an admin or leadership role, they are more likely to be schools are out of the top tier in their area and less desirable overall (location and/or project). Learning Support teachers fill a high needs niche and you should not have to play the admin card. Where it would be useful is if the position is a department head or LS leadership role.

There will be more jobs/a larger number of better schools for you in Asia but jobs do open up in Europe. Financially, you would not do nearly as well for the most part as you would in Asia. exceptions to this would be some possibilities in Switzerland and to some extent in Prague, Bucharest, Budapest etc.

Search Associates is (IMHO) a good investment. With no IS experience or contacts, a job fair could be your best bet to landing a plumb job/school. Even if you do not plan on attending a fair, the database (very detailed on benefits, student/faculty make up) and job postings will save you much time and help you to hone/prioritize your search.

You could just google international school and an area of the world and send out hundreds of CV's cover letters and if your timing is right, you could get lucky. I've done this and it costs nothing but your time. On the other hand, most schools get many, many unsolicited CV's and it is easy to get lost in the shuffle. Being with Search gives you some credibility and most of the schools you would want to go to are members. Also, once you have submitted your references to Search they are in the database and do not have to be redone for individual schools (and your $300.00 fee is good for 3 years and a job fair).

LS teachers are definitely in demand. If you have certifications/experience in other subjects you could also play up that and apply for those openings. Being able to wear many hats is a plus in many schools.

Two things you may want to check out:

ESF runs a large number of schools in Hong Kong and offers good packages/desirable location. They are members of Search but also run their own recruiting program through their website and do Skype interviews. Well worth checking out.

DoDEA runs overseas schools for military dependents and the pay, package, locations are excellent. Also, your dependents would not be an issue at all. It's a tough time to get in right now but it costs nothing to get your application in and you never know what could happen. SPED/coaching are high demand areas for DoDEA.

That's all I have for now. We have loved living and teaching overseas and I wish you luck. Please post any other questions as they come to mind.
Cheery Littlebottom
Posts: 207
Joined: Sat May 11, 2013 8:32 am

Post by Cheery Littlebottom »

Hi There

wrldtrvlr123 makes some very good points.

I would also like to draw your attention to the following initiative, "Next Frontier Inclusion." Historically, IS's have been very leery of kids who would normally receive special educational services, claiming they cannot fulfill the letter of (usually) US law, or at least feeling themselves exposed in this regard. That has been changing over the years as more and more teachers are qualified by training and experience to teach the spectrum of learners. However, you may wish to look at this:

http://www.nextfrontierinclusion.org/

There are a growing number if IS's who are beginning to embrace students with learning differences. Afterall, with small classes, well-qualified staff and excellent resources, if IS's can't teach twice-exceptional and other learning difficulties well, then who can?

Bill and Ochan Powell are co-authors of the guide for administrators, which you can find on the site. Naturally, these names are hugely influential when it comes to differentiation. Their books are tremendous, and this guide is very helpful indeed.

I cannot find a list of schools that have formally "signed up" to this initiative and philosophy. It may be that this might become the "next big thing."

Anyway, this may be helpful in your quest for a job!

Regards
Cheery
cfugs81
Posts: 5
Joined: Thu Aug 22, 2013 3:47 pm

Post by cfugs81 »

Thank You Wrldtrvlr and Cheery. Great information from both of you. I will definitely be registering with Search Associates soon. I'm very excited that there is the possibility of coaching and that it's definitely possible to get a good job with my family situation.

Wrldtrvlr: Thank you for answering all of my questions with great detail! All of it was insightful. Interesting that it's preferable to label your experience Learning Support and not SPED. My license is actually titled: Students with Disabilities. Hopefully this won't be a negative when applying to places.

Also, Cheery: I'm definitely checking out the NextFrontierInclusion site. Looks interesting, and I think you're right in the sense that there is an entire population that need these resources and schools are going to have to be more open to accepting Special Needs students to stay relevant.

Thanks again, and best of luck to you both!
cfugs81
Posts: 5
Joined: Thu Aug 22, 2013 3:47 pm

Post by cfugs81 »

Hello again.

After reading a bit more on the forums, I have some other followup questions about Learning Support in the International Schools. Yes, I have read many of the other posts on here re: LS, but I thought maybe anyone with experience could help me with some of these questions or just tell me what your experience has been like.

What [b]exactly[/b] is Learning Support like in international schools? I heard people say it's "sped light" but I don't really understand that. I know it can vary, but is it more pushing in than pulling out? Do you teach your own classes or just support the other teachers in an inclusion-like setting? Is the workload more, less or equal to the other teachers in the school? What other roles (IEP's, conferencing, etc.) do you fulfill outside of class-time. I teach in a resource room now. In your experience, is the pullout similar to that (small group instruction focused on math, writing, reading skills)? How often do you typically push-in vs. pull-out? How many kids do you see on average? Are the teachers generally open to the inclusion model and differentiation? Are they open to letting you actually co-teach or are they very territorial over their classroom? What are the expectations of the admin? Are they just concerned about offering LS and keeping parents happy or do they have a genuine interest and concern about what you're doing? How are you / have you been assessed by your principal? Is there time to prep with your co-teachers? I know I'm asking a lot and it probably varies incredibly, but any information on people's experiences would be insightful.

@wrldtrvlr123 said: Learning Support is a high needs niche. Does this mean a person with LS background should or could be a lot more selective about where they want to go? Were you offered several positions each time you were looking for a new school? Or should you act fast if your offered a solid gig?

Genuinely interested.
sid
Posts: 1357
Joined: Sat Dec 02, 2006 11:44 am

Post by sid »

I'm not going to weigh in on the SEN side of the discussion. Looks like there's lots of good advice about that.

Remember to investigate the legal issues around your wife potentially practicing acupuncture. Licensure and insurance issues will be paramount, and without proper credentials, you could find yourself facing serious fines, court cases and/or deportation.
cfugs81
Posts: 5
Joined: Thu Aug 22, 2013 3:47 pm

Post by cfugs81 »

Yeah sid. Thanks! She's licensed here, but I realize it most likely won't transfer everywhere. We will look much deeper into that. It's probably not an option in most places. I think she would want to look into furthering her schooling/training, internships, etc.
wrldtrvlr123
Posts: 1171
Joined: Sat Feb 06, 2010 10:59 am
Location: Japan

Post by wrldtrvlr123 »

[quote="cfugs81"]Hello again.

After reading a bit more on the forums, I have some other followup questions about Learning Support in the International Schools. Yes, I have read many of the other posts on here re: LS, but I thought maybe anyone with experience could help me with some of these questions or just tell me what your experience has been like.

What [b]exactly[/b] is Learning Support like in international schools? I heard people say it's "sped light" but I don't really understand that. I know it can vary, but is it more pushing in than pulling out? Do you teach your own classes or just support the other teachers in an inclusion-like setting? Is the workload more, less or equal to the other teachers in the school? What other roles (IEP's, conferencing, etc.) do you fulfill outside of class-time. I teach in a resource room now. In your experience, is the pullout similar to that (small group instruction focused on math, writing, reading skills)? How often do you typically push-in vs. pull-out? How many kids do you see on average? Are the teachers generally open to the inclusion model and differentiation? Are they open to letting you actually co-teach or are they very territorial over their classroom? What are the expectations of the admin? Are they just concerned about offering LS and keeping parents happy or do they have a genuine interest and concern about what you're doing? How are you / have you been assessed by your principal? Is there time to prep with your co-teachers? I know I'm asking a lot and it probably varies incredibly, but any information on people's experiences would be insightful.

@wrldtrvlr123 said: Learning Support is a high needs niche. Does this mean a person with LS background should or could be a lot more selective about where they want to go? Were you offered several positions each time you were looking for a new school? Or should you act fast if your offered a solid gig?

Genuinely interested.[/quote]
-----------------------------------------------------------

Hi again. LS will look differently from school to school since they are (for the most part) essentially independent private schools that are not bound by IDEA or really ANY legal compulsion to accept SPED students.

The vast majority of great to decent school will have very few students with disruptive behavioral problems (at least due to SPED issues).

I have heard of schools with every type of LS support program that you mentioned so it is possible that you could be doing push in, pull out, resource room, team teaching, teaching a lower set in a regular subject etc.

The attitudes of teacher/parents will also run the entire gamut of good, bad and ugly, much like any school.

The least likely scenario is a self-contained class of all SPED students or many students having any deficits or issues beyond "mild" (whatever that is). Exceptions/partial exceptions to this would include ISB (Brussels) who do have programs/diplomas for virtually every type of student. At ASIJ in Japan we used to joke that students who were only reading AT grade level got LS.

To a lesser degree places like Int'l School of Geneva, Zurich Int'l School and even WAB (Beijing) have more established programs or at least more LS staff throughout the school. Also ESF in HK, who have self-contained classes at a number of schools and even a free standing special needs school for more involved students.

Should be picky about taking a job? It depends. LS is a high needs area but there are a growing number of qualified candidates. 2 dependents is not horrible, but not as good as no dependents, or a teaching couple. Coaching helps, but is generally more like icing on the cake or a tie breaker than huge selling point (in my experience).

Get into the process and you will soon see what kind of response you receive. Go to a job fair with an open mind and you stand a good chance of walking out with a good position in a good school/location.
cfugs81
Posts: 5
Joined: Thu Aug 22, 2013 3:47 pm

Post by cfugs81 »

Thanks wrldtrvlr123!
JMD25
Posts: 6
Joined: Fri Oct 11, 2013 6:40 pm
Location: California

thanks!

Post by JMD25 »

This is all excellent information for me as well! I feel I am very experienced and am already working in Inclusion so Learning Support sounds a bit similar to this with co-teaching and pushin/pullout service model. I have heard good things about ISB-Brussels but it looks like they don't post openings until December. I am glad to hear that there is some demand for special needs teachers abroad since I wasn't sure privatized schools would take students with special needs.
PsyGuy
Posts: 10310
Joined: Wed Oct 12, 2011 9:51 am
Location: Northern Europe

Reply

Post by PsyGuy »

wrldtrvlr123 and i are mostly in agreement, which weve butted heads (gently) in the past.

There isnt an IS anywhere (DoDDS schools being the exception, but they arent really ISs) currently that provides SPED services in compliance with US/UK/AUS/CAN law. Among them SAS (Singapore American School) probabley gets as close as they come and even they make a point to inform their parents that they dont provide SPED services in compliance with US law.
The issue is simply this, money. ISs are private/independent schools, meaning that they have to generate the revenue themselves to provide the programs that they do. In absence of government funding, SPED programs are EXTREMELY expensive on a per student basis. You have a very small group of SPED students, and you have to provide them a lot of services. Thats not a sustainable business model. So to run a SPED program a school has to pay for it, and with the exception of some small embassy grants its the parents that have to pay for a SPED program. To put it in perspective The average tuition at a tier 1 school is about $10K, for a SPEd program your looking at an average inception cost of $220K (this is the cost of creating a program without any students), with a distributive cost of $55K/n4 (this means the program doesnt roll out with less then 4 students), thats a lot of money.
Top tier schools though have a reputation and mandate to provide for the communities they serve. The question is "what price point can a school serve its students to the satisfaction of the parents, and generate revenue on those fees?" The solution is SPED lite.
As you increase the degree of disabiltiy you drastically begin to decrease the number of servicing students. The reality is that students with severe needs require more care then just SPED, they reuire a whole host of medical, psychological, social and human services, that are outside the scope of an international "expat" assignment. Simply, parents are not going to be comfortable taking an international assignment with a child requiring such a degree of care. What you see in the majority of a SPED lite programs are (primarily) mild needs students and (secondary) high functioning moderate needs (including LD/ED) students. By restricting services to this class of the student population the school can serve community and still generate revenue, simply because the resources needed to manage this classification of students is much less expensive.

Schools accomplish this by 1) There nature as private/independent schools allows them to be selective of their admissions. They can simply say "were sorry we cant admit your child, as we are unable to provide the services their educational program will require". 2) They are largely self regulated. Typcially these programs have minimal governmental regulation and oversight (such as privacy issues). They get to create the program, can change it very quickly, and typically have a monopoly on this segment of the student population.

So whats a typical SPED lite program, this is my experience (and it differs from other contributors on this site. Its usually a large tier 1 school, with an american curriculum (which may also be an IB program). The SPEd department will consist of a LS (learning Support) or SEN (Special Educational Needs) coordinator, who will be part of the junior admin team. The coordinator will work closely with the school counselor, and serve as the point of contact for outside third . professionals (doctors, psychologists, social workers). The faculty will consist (depending on the size) of full time resource teachers who provide "pull out" service. they usually work in a resource classroom, and may work one on one of in small groups of students. Typically you will have 1 full time teacher for primary and another for secondary, though of course there could be more. In addition you will have a number of part time teachers (though could be full time) of teacher aids/assistants who will provide "inclusion services" (part time is what really saves the school money (part time means no foreign recruited package, and local hires are much cheaper. jane student might only need services for literature and social studies class. no reason to have an inclusion teacher in the classroom for art, PE, etc if its not needed).
Where you will see the major differences is in documentation, procedures and classroom issues. Basically, no ARD committees, or endless amounts of paperwork. Before a SPED student is admitted the administration will send the application and supporting outside reports to the SEN coordinator, who will conduct a screening interview with the parents/student. Depending on the services the school provides, if the student can be accommodated by the schools service plan then they will privide an IEP or Action Plan to the parents (through senior administration) describing what services and limits the school will provide and what the fees will be (sometimes parents just leave). If the parents accepts then the student enters the standard placement path, with modification for the students IEP (for instance some students are served for some classes by being placed in a higher/lower grade classroom, though the IEp may indicate no more then one grade lower).
At this point the students SEN teacher will likely have a conference with the parent either prior too or shortly after the student is placed. On the first day the SEN teacher will meet with the student and introduce them to their inclusion teacher(s) and go over the students schedule, etc. the students general ed teachers will be notified, and any special instructions given. Heres where one of the big differences is, typically the general ed teacher has a much more limited purpose in the classroom with the student. The support (inclusion) teacher or resource teacher does the heavy lifting. Usually the student has outside instruction/tutoring time. You may be asked to give the resource teacher a copy of an exam to be administered, etc. The interruption in the classroom is very minimal.
The second main difference is paperwork and documentation requirements. The general ed teacher will typically not be required to do any more paperwork then what they already do for there non SPED students. The SEN teacher will typically do a weekly report, but its a brief report, a few observation, and an update on the students progress. Thats really it.
Usually every couple months the SEN coordinator will review the progress of the student and schedule a conference with the parents, which may often be a telephone conference. They will discuss the students progress and possible modifications to the students IEP. Thats about it. There are no ARD committees and rules and regulatory procedures. The SEN faculty may have a monthly meeting, though once a term or 8 weeks is more common.
Generally speaking chronically, the hot diagnosis are Dyslexia (which include a lot of other mild learning disabilities) and ADHD (which include a lot of other emotional disabilities). Acutely, the SEN department will see acute depression (life events) and muscle skeletal injuries (broken bones, etc).
Post Reply