After a few attempts at moving out of SpEd and into the GenEd arena both on-site and at sister schools, I realized that in order for me to make the move, I would have to look outside of the district. Sadly, once you’re SpEd, it seems that’s the only thing people see on your resume.
I found this out when I went to interview for a position at what would be my next school district. Interviewing with both the principal and assistant principal at one of the high schools, the bulk of my interview was spent with the principal, flopping around in her chair (I’m serious, she couldn’t have been more bored), as she tried to convince me that taking the SpEd Department Chair position would be a far better fit. She was trying to bend me to make me fit into her mold and I don’t play that game.
Thankfully, a friend and co-worker played mediator when he heard that I had interviewed with this specific school. He had connections at the sister (but also, rival) school and helped make an interview happen. I was lucky in that the interview team (another principal and assistant principal, along with the English department chair) was honoring my request and desire to be a general education teacher. However, I couldn’t help but feel that my connection (my mediator) had a lot to do with my progression in the hiring process.
Don’t get me wrong. I am completely at peace with the decision I made to use my resources to help me advance in my career, but because of all the “no, you need to stay in SpEd” rejections I had encountered in such a short amount of time, I felt incredibly insecure in my abilities. Period.
I felt like I had to continually prove my worth, to have my actions show that I was more than just a SpEd teacher; that I could take my skills and apply them in any educational setting, allowing for the same success. This feeling spilled into all facets of my work. I took on numerous classes at the local community college, working as an adjunct instructor, to “show” my colleagues (at both the high school and college) that I was the consummate English teacher I set out to be, certifications be damned.
What I didn’t realize was that it wasn’t them I needed to prove my worth to, it was myself.