Although it seems like it's taken a bit too long for this to happen since I graduated from UCI, I can finally say that I have earned my special education teaching credential. What should have taken one or maybe 1.5 years took me from January 2011 to May of 2013. Still, the two years plus that I have spent getting this done has been full of great experiences I would never regret. I spent 2 amazing years as an instructional aide at a school in Irvine, which had (and still has!) the most amazing team of teachers and staff who truly are a part of a big family. My past two student teaching experiences would have been so much more challenging, if I did not have my experiences as an aide and the support of the teachers from that school. It was so sad to leave last June, but everyone, including myself, knew that I had to leave my "safe place" to complete what I set out to do in the first place.
This was the amazing teacher I worked with at Irvine!
All the staff leaving that year were surprised with a cake!
After two semesters of student teaching in a transitional kindergarten class and an RSP classroom (at my old elementary school!), I'm finally done! I have earned my "education specialist" teaching credential, and I can teach students with mild/moderate special needs.
Now I could start applying for jobs right now, however I decided a long time ago that I didn't want to be stuck teaching kiddos with mild/moderate needs. As fabulous and fun those kiddos can be, what about all of the other kiddos who need just as much support, if not more? So next semester I will be adding on a credential to teach kiddos with moderate/severe needs. There's something about teaching these kiddos critical life skills that really gives me a feeling of purpose. I have not spent as much time working with this population, so I know next semester I will definitely find myself in situations I've never seen or experienced in the past. Another reason why I'm choosing to have both options is because I truly don't know what path is right for me. I have enjoyed working with both populations, yet both teaching jobs have their own set of challenges. What would be really amazing is if I finished next semester and I know for a fact which path is for me. Nevertheless, at this point in my life of constant uncertainty, I think the picture below sums up my thoughts perfectly :)
A big thanks to everyone who has supported me along the way!