Meagan Baird, a senior in Collaborative Special Education, has known that she wanted to teach for as long as she can remember. She said, “I love working with children, and I have always wanted a job that I enjoy going to each day.”
Meagan’s major includes K-12, which means she will be certified to teach at all grade levels. She also took a test in Birmingham called the Praxis II: Elementary Content Knowledge, so she is highly qualified in teaching grades K-6. As a special education major, she can even work in the general education classroom with students without disabilities if that’s what she decides she wants to do.
Although Meagan declared her major as a freshman, she had to go through a fairly intense application process at the end of her sophomore year to actually be admitted into the College of Education. In addition to filling out an application, she had to pass the Praxis 1: Basic Skills Assessment test (which is similar to the SAT or ACT), complete her pre-teaching assignment, get her fingerprints taken and have a background check done.
This semester, Meagan is taking the last 17 hours of her major classes. She is also completing her final practicum at Opelika High School where she teaches ninth to twelfth graders. She teaches a total of ten hours a week on Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday mornings.
The majority of the students Meagan works with have learning disabilities, intellectual disabilities, or behavior problems. Most of them require more time with assignments and/or extra assistance. Her students are also given the opportunity to take their tests in the resource room, and some are given a different version of the tests with less answer choices that make it easier for them.
“It is often a challenge to teach students with learning disabilities at the high school level because they have little ambition and large attitudes,” Meagan explains. “It is hard to get them to focus and complete their assignments.”
In addition to creating lesson plans for her students every week, Meagan is also responsible for her students’ IEPs (Individualized Education Program). Each student in special education has an IEP that is updated each year with goals and objectives for the student. The IEP goal pages are written for the areas where the student is having difficulty.
Meagan’s classes at Auburn focus on developing a curriculum for students with disabilities, writing IEPs, developing academic and transition goals, and creating numerous strategies to use in the classroom for students with and without disabilities. There are also several legal issues she must study that go into working in the special education field.
Although Meagan is currently teaching high school students, she said her favorite age group is elementary school, specifically the second grade. Once she completes her internship next semester and graduates, she hopes to find a job teaching special education at the elementary school level in Orlando, Florida.