Burnt out teacher's aide needs new job/ benefits

analtforhelpanaltforhelp Registered User
edited November 2012 in Help / Advice Forum
I've been working in special education for the last 4+ years and I'm fried. I don't have a cert or a masters, but that's fine because (as of right now) I don't want to teach anymore. I work for a district but I get sent out to a private facility. It used to be pretty decent there, but since all of the cuts (I live in NJ, thanks Chris Christie) they've lost a lot of students back to the districts and the school has had to pick up students that honestly have no business at our facility due to the severity of the disabilities and behaviors. The problem is, if the school loses more kids, people start losing their jobs. So as it is, my room is a nightmare of a work environment. I love the staff I work with, they're like family, but I can't keep doing this, it's killing me. I'm NOT going to get a transfer from district, so don't bother bringing it up. The problem is I need health insurance, not just for catastrophic though that's obvious, but mainly for medication- I take antidepressents.

So I need to find something different, but I'm REALLY poor at looking for jobs, and feel constrained by the fact that teaching is all I've really done since college. I worked in an office at one point, but I sucked at it, mainly because ti was my first job and my ADD caused a lot of problems with multitasking. That's also why I need drug coverage, I want to get back on adderal but it'd cost me about 400+ dollars a month (yes) on my current drug coverage.

I have great people skills, am a fine speaker, and I type quickly (though my punctuation and such has lapsed since college as I don't really use it at work at all.) EDIT: OOOOO I think I'd make a fine salesman, as all teaching really is is motivated sales. It'd be nice to avoid the retail monster as the reason I'm jumping ship is stress. I'd mop floors if I could get decent pay and benefits (or work that and another job to get benefits.)

HELP ME H/A forum! I love you all.

EDIT: I don't know why I didn't indicate this before, I'm a 1:1 PARA NOT A TEACHER

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  • InxInx Registered User regular
    Might be able to get a custodial job within your school district. No clue how that works, but they know you're a good employee already, so maybe look into that?

    By my understanding, custodial work really only sucks if you don't like getting your hands dirty and don't like the idea of telling people you're a janitor. I've heard the pay ain't too bad if you work for the right company.

  • DeadfallDeadfall I don't think you realize just how rich he is. In fact, I should put on a monocle.Registered User regular
    Yeah, you were me a bit ago. I taught five years and it just wasn't for me anymore.

    I second custodial work in the school district. I did for awhile and it's really not that bad, and my past experience bumped me up to 14 an hour, which isn't that much but I took it in a heartbeat. It also kept me in the retirement plan and health benefits package.

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  • Pure DinPure Din Boston-areaRegistered User regular
    If you're not on any ADHD meds now, I highly recommend you go back on some before making any big decisions. You can get generic non extended release adderall for less than 400 even without insurance, and the non extended release pills are safe to cut up and spread your dose throughout the day. If adderall works for you, you could also try asking your doctor about Concerta, focalin, or Ritalin, or other types of stimulant ADHD meds. But having your meds might help make your current job less stressful, so you can stick it out long enough to figure out your options.

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  • WildEEPWildEEP Registered User regular
    If you're in the education field, I recommend you get out of NJ ASAP. They consistantly put public education on the chopping block whenever there is a budget shortfall. If you interested, consider moving down south with the rest of us - special education and speech pathology are hugely sought after right now. Look into the Northern Virginia, Washington DC, and Maryland section of the country. You'd find..good...well......better money, good benefits, and less headache.

  • schussschuss Registered User regular
    You could also do most base-level corporate jobs, though if you specialize in training you could probably get a better than entry level position immediately.

  • analtforhelpanaltforhelp Registered User
    edited November 2012
    Deadfall wrote: »
    Yeah, you were me a bit ago. I taught five years and it just wasn't for me anymore.

    I second custodial work in the school district. I did for awhile and it's really not that bad, and my past experience bumped me up to 14 an hour, which isn't that much but I took it in a heartbeat. It also kept me in the retirement plan and health benefits package.

    First off, thanks for the help and responses so far.

    This would be great but all the districts are private now when i comes to custodial. It's still not a bad idea, however, I've worked part time custodial every summer for the last decade. I'd never hear the end of this from my parents unfortunately. Of course my parents aren't the most rational actors when it comes to understanding how horrid my job is. "Just stick it out!" Sure, and when I get shit-canned for snapping at a kid it'll be "why didn't you tell us how stressful it was" :rotate:

    As for the Adderal, I've been on it before I can't AFFORD it now with my current insurance. The neurologist said he will only write me a scrip per month if I come back per month, which AFTER insurance is 350 dollars. I have AETNA.

    I was looking at plans on ehealthinsurance and found this, I don't know how decent this is. ehealthinsurance.com/ehi/ifp/plan-details?planKey=1714:200032&productLine=IFP&ifpUIState.planDetailsBackUrl=/ifp/best-sellers

    EDIT- I'm not gonna lie guys (and gals), I'm a little freaked out right now.

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  • ceresceres When the last moon is cast over the last star of morning And the future has past without even a last desperate warningRegistered User, Moderator mod
    I am completely baffled that as a full-time teacher you don't have a plan that makes medication more affordable. Have you asked after a generic version of it? Sometimes that can reduce costs; mine went from $153 to $23 (not adderall, obviously). Maybe ask your doctor or psych about trying out a cheaper option, at least to tide you over until you can find better insurance.

    And it seems like all is dying, and would leave the world to mourn
  • metaghostmetaghost Registered User regular
    ceres wrote: »
    I am completely baffled that as a full-time teacher you don't have a plan that makes medication more affordable.

    I don't know how teaching licensure works in New Jersey, but I'm assuming part of the OP's work benefits are tied to attaining Professional licensure, which in Massachusetts requires 5 years of employment, certification in your field, and a Master's degree. As the OP explicitly stated possessing none of those attributes, I'm guessing therein lies a source of their troubles. But since the OP has no interest in continuing to teach, there'd be little point in pursuing further job qualifications.

  • ceresceres When the last moon is cast over the last star of morning And the future has past without even a last desperate warningRegistered User, Moderator mod
    metaghost wrote: »
    ceres wrote: »
    I am completely baffled that as a full-time teacher you don't have a plan that makes medication more affordable.

    I don't know how teaching licensure works in New Jersey, but I'm assuming part of the OP's work benefits are tied to attaining Professional licensure, which in Massachusetts requires 5 years of employment, certification in your field, and a Master's degree. As the OP explicitly stated possessing none of those attributes, I'm guessing therein lies a source of their troubles. But since the OP has no interest in continuing to teach, there'd be little point in pursuing further job qualifications.

    Yeah, this would be the source of my confusion then, because I've always understood that full-time teacher = benefits. I know from my own experience that plans you buy yourself are prohibitive unless you make quite a lot of money each month, and more if the plan actually covers anything useful.

    And it seems like all is dying, and would leave the world to mourn
  • analtforhelpanaltforhelp Registered User
    I'm not a full time teacher. I'm a 1:1 para, I didn't indicatet hat before I'm sorry.

  • ceresceres When the last moon is cast over the last star of morning And the future has past without even a last desperate warningRegistered User, Moderator mod
    Since you cared enough to make an alt I went ahead and deleted that for you real quick. :P

    But yeah, not being full-time is important information to have. What kind of insurance are you running with now? I ask mostly that I tend to agree with Din... being undermedicated is not a great time to decide how you feel about your job. It's important that you be able to get some sort of care.

    And it seems like all is dying, and would leave the world to mourn
  • analtforhelpanaltforhelp Registered User
    I am full time despite being a para. My pay is decent (I make about 29k) when you include the benefits. My benes are changing on Jan 1st and I opted up to a higher plan. It's $65 out of my paycheck instead of 20-something. It should have better medicinal rates.

    As for how I feel about my job? Even with Adderal the school I work at (but not for) is awful. Everyone else is feeling it too, TRUST me. They lost a LOT of aides in the beginning of the year due to severity of the students' disabilities + the fact that they don't adequately brief people about what they're walking into. There's more than a few kids that very probably should have never been admitted either because we honestly can't do much for them or due to behaviors. No one speaks up, because if the school loses more students people start losing their jobs. Indentured servitude all up ins.

  • Pure DinPure Din Boston-areaRegistered User regular
    As for the Adderal, I've been on it before I can't AFFORD it now with my current insurance. The neurologist said he will only write me a scrip per month if I come back per month, which AFTER insurance is 350 dollars. I have AETNA.

    $350 after insurance is an insane amount of money for a med refill, what the heck is this guy charging before insurance? In comparison, my psychiatrist I was seeing up until last year was $320 *before* insurance. And until recently my friend (in the Boston area, not somewhere cheap) had no insurance, but was able to go to a psychiatrist with "sliding scale" payments for $80.

    Yeah the 30 day rule for adderall sucks, but if you're seeing an actual mental health professional they will have ways to work around that to make it more convenient because they're used to working with people who have trouble keeping regular appointments and don't have a lot of money. Unless you're also having seizures or something I don't understand why you're seeing a neurologist.

  • ceresceres When the last moon is cast over the last star of morning And the future has past without even a last desperate warningRegistered User, Moderator mod
    I am full time despite being a para. My pay is decent (I make about 29k) when you include the benefits. My benes are changing on Jan 1st and I opted up to a higher plan. It's $65 out of my paycheck instead of 20-something. It should have better medicinal rates.

    As for how I feel about my job? Even with Adderal the school I work at (but not for) is awful. Everyone else is feeling it too, TRUST me. They lost a LOT of aides in the beginning of the year due to severity of the students' disabilities + the fact that they don't adequately brief people about what they're walking into. There's more than a few kids that very probably should have never been admitted either because we honestly can't do much for them or due to behaviors. No one speaks up, because if the school loses more students people start losing their jobs. Indentured servitude all up ins.

    Well then, my advice changes to "try to work out your medication anyway PLUS pretty much everything Pure Din has said in this thread" and also that you should continue to look into your options in other fields, but again maybe give teaching another shot once you are properly medicated and elsewhere. It sucks when you can no longer believe in what you do for whatever reason; I definitely get that, it's just that it sounds like specific school you're working for has a lot to do with this being so hard on you. I don't know where in NJ you are (don't mention exact location, best not to give too many pieces away), but if you are close enough you might consider trying to find something comparable in PA or whatever state nearest neighbors you.

    I say this not because being a teacher is so great (I was unable to hack it), but because you have all this experience in something that you obviously care if it is done well, and it's always nice to see that in someone who works with children. If it's even a little bit more than just a job to you, I wouldn't wholly abandon the idea of doing similar work in the future even if you decide to take a break from it now.

    And it seems like all is dying, and would leave the world to mourn
  • DerrickDerrick Registered User regular
    Have you worked for other schools? Other districts?

    Having a terrible place of employment can really turn you off to a career when it's really the place and not the general position that is bothering you. I believe that's called "Throwing the baby out with the bathwater." I was in design work and management for a hospital not too long ago and was REALLY doubting my life decisions, degree, etc. Since then I've downscaled the management bit and moved on to a small time sign shop and I really enjoy work much more.

    So, long story short- Try a different work atmosphere in the same field and see how you like it. Within 3-6 months at a new place, you'll know for sure if you want to hold 'em or fold 'em on teaching.

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  • analtforhelpanaltforhelp Registered User
    Derrick wrote: »
    Derrick wrote: »
    Have you worked for other schools? Other districts?

    Having a terrible place of employment can really turn you off to a career when it's really the place and not the general position that is bothering you. I believe that's called "Throwing the baby out with the bathwater." I was in design work and management for a hospital not too long ago and was REALLY doubting my life decisions, degree, etc. Since then I've downscaled the management bit and moved on to a small time sign shop and I really enjoy work much more.

    So, long story short- Try a different work atmosphere in the same field and see how you like it. Within 3-6 months at a new place, you'll know for sure if you want to hold 'em or fold 'em on teaching.

    I definitely do enjoy teaching but let me make it even more specific- I enjoy educating. I'm doing neither of those things currently, and I've taken a lot of hits to my psyche in the interim. Sooooo yes, if (hopefully when) I get out and medicated I would eventually like to try my hand again in higher functioning classroom, but for right now I need some space and time to recouperate. This also assumes that NJ is no longer a complete disaster when it comes to how it treats its education employees. Looking into a different state is certainly on the table, but again, I need time.

    I'd like to thank everyone who's chimed in on, you've given me good advice. I might perk up another topic in the near future about purchasing health care for myself, but for now the job search goes on.

  • mtsmts Dr. Robot King Registered User regular
    i would suggest actually going back to school for your teacher certs etc. check out the nyc scholars programs or whatever it is called which has the accelerated program to get your teaching degree and will place you in a school. my brother did this after being an aide and is now a full cert special ed teacher in brooklyn.

    having the aide experience wil ldefinitely help with that and it sounds like you are motivated to do it. plus, you should have decent insurance for being in school.

    bam. two birds with one stone, maybe three

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  • Zombie NirvanaZombie Nirvana Registered User regular
    I thought your handle said anal for help. You're in better shape than I thought now that I read it correctly. Shop around for care and medicine - good luck!

  • SwashbucklerXXSwashbucklerXX Swashbucklin' Canuck Registered User regular
    I second going back to school for better certs. There are parts of the country that are desperately in need of special ed teachers with particular skillsets. My mom is a semi-retired special ed teacher and is making serious bank working about 10 hours a week for a school district in rural WA tutoring kids with low vision and mild learning disabilities. She says they're desperate to find people who have similar qualifications but are willing to work more hours (and probably for a bit less money because they don't have 30+ years of experience ;) ). It's not just her district, either. If you get into a decent special ed program in school, a career counselor should be able to help you identify better locations to practice.

    Special ed can be rough, but you can get into a far better situation than you're in now, especially if you leave NJ and have better certs. It's all about the certs. Without them, it's so easy to get stuck into a situation like you're in. And I second what @mts said about being in school and having decent insurance.

    Oh, and some candid advice if you continue on in the special ed field and are choosing which certifications to get:
    Avoid autism education. It's a mess right now, with parents suing school boards so that the boards will pay for expensive private tutoring... and guess what that involves? Bringing the public school teachers before the court to try to prove that they're incompetent. Suuuuuucks. As my mom says, there's no other area of special ed in which there are those kinds of expectations that a teacher will "cure" the kids instead of working with them to overcome their challenges.

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