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What Specialists Wish You Knew

This blog post has resonated with so many specialists. Whether you are a classroom teacher or a specialist you may find this post has something to think about. It is a beginning for a dialogue that should lift all of us, encourage us, and help us teach better and reach more- with respect for one another.  

Let me explain. I taught fifth grade and then third grade for 26 years total. (Third grade was my favorite!) Then I switched to being our school’s STEM Lab teacher.  

Instantly I became a SPECIALIST. Three grade levels, fifteen total classes, every student in the school.  

I had no idea what I was getting into. I just knew I loved science and designing and problem-solving and watching kids work.  

Let me just tell you, The Specialist World is different. So, as you read this post keep an open mind. I chose my words carefully as I wrote this. I mean absolutely no disrespect for my classroom teachers. I was one for many, many years. I made some of these mistakes, too!

What Specialists Wish You Knew! You leave your kids in Music or Art or PE or Drama or STEM and there are so many things those teachers wish you knew. Great post from a former classroom teacher that is now a specialist!

So, here’s what we consider to be a Specialist… It’s the Librarian, Art teacher, Music teacher, Drama teacher, PE teacher, STEM Lab teacher, Counselor. It’s those fabulous teachers that keep your kids for 30 minutes, 45 minutes, or a full hour, probably just once a week. (Except for PE.)   I thought about this for a long time before writing it all down. But, I did narrow it down to five things to think about. Many of these are things other specialists have talked to me about.     

  • A specialist’s class is 100% engagement- all the time.
  • Specialists have a lot of students. Like all of them.
  • The schedule for a specialist’s class is jam-packed.
  • The specialist’s class is a real class.
  • My class is more than just fun. 

A specialist’s class is 100% engagement- all the time.

Specialists wish you knew this: We have no down time. Our classrooms are 100% engagement time with the students. We love it, but it is exhausting!

This one is hard to mention because I know, I know, I know that classroom teachers run themselves crazy and also have days where they never sit down. But, y’all that is every day for me. When I have students, they are with me for a full hour and I am 100% engaged with them the entire time. There is no downtime, no small group time, no sit at my desk and grade papers, no one-on-one time with a student. I move constantly, I am easily getting 10,000 steps a day. I feel sure the specialists in your building are the same. Now, I know you work equally hard and take just as many steps, but…..  

As a former classroom teacher, I know there were times my students had seat work and I sat at my center table and worked on paperwork or worked, while sitting down, with one or two students. Specialists don’t really do that. This seemed to be the number one thing that all my specialist friends agree on. Our classrooms have a tight schedule and we stay busy (at least I do)!  

So, just know that when you meet me at the door and I am frazzled it’s because I need a bathroom break or a few minutes to clean up before the next class comes in.  Please don’t be mad because you have to wait a minute or two! I have classes back to back and with a switch in grade levels, so my planning and prep time has to be super-efficient in order to be ready as classes arrive. I love it when the classroom teachers offer to help or send in students to help get set up for the next class! 

Specialists have a lot of students. Like all of them.

I don’t know about all specialists, but I can tell you that the ones in my building have trouble, just like me, with remembering all the kids’ names! I have 350+ students. I remember some of them easily and you can guess which ones. However, there are so many that I have to really work to remember the names. I practice in the hallway and I try to call them by name when I can because I know it’s important to the kids. I resort to all kinds of memory tricks to try to remember names, but this is something I am not good at anyway. And when there are twins with similar sounding names that also dress alike every day….gah!  

I have one really good friend at my school and when I talk to her about her students she can always tell that I can’t remember which kid she is talking about. She is really good at describing kids for me so I can figure out who we are discussing!   

One other tiny thing is that I don’t always have the same connections with students that the regular classroom teacher has. I see students in a completely different way due to the nature of my classroom. Some students do very well in STEM and not so great in their classroom. Some are the other way around. I do miss those personal connections with kids, but in a one hour class, we don’t always have time to get to know everyone. So, if you know of a family concern or something else that might be bothering a student, please share that with me. Then I will understand why a kid is being super quiet, or angry, or is crying. Parents don’t contact specialists, so we have to rely on our teachers to keep us informed!

The schedule for a specialist’s class is jam-packed.

This is probably number 2 on the list of what specialists will agree upon. Please deliver your class on time and all together. Please. When a few kids straggle in late, for whatever reason, it interrupts my lesson and hinders us from getting started.

This is probably number 2 on the list of what specialists will agree upon. Please deliver your class on time and all together. Please. When a few kids straggle in late, for whatever reason, it interrupts my lesson and hinders us from getting started. My class time is limited and it helps me so much for kids to get there!  

Here’s a great example of my own personal boo-boo with our specialists: A few years ago I started having student-led conferences in my third-grade classroom. I scheduled a few of these during the kids’ specials because that is when I had a break. I figured missing music or drama was not a problem and we could have a nice conference time. After a few conferences, one of the specialists pulled me aside and sweetly let me know that the students were missing her lessons.   

Now, I completely understand what she meant. When I have STEM class prepared and supplies out and ready and kids are missing or ten minutes late, it does matter. It’s a little, maybe a tad not very respectful to the specialist. Just something to think about!  

The specialist’s class is a real class.

Field trips are fun, but when you  miss a specialists class due to field trip, it is not okay to deliver your students to the missed class for only a few minutes.

I know you love field trips! And I know the kids do, for sure. Here’s the thing. When your class is gone on a field trip and you are missing my class, I totally get it. I try to reschedule those missed classes when I can, but it doesn’t always fit with my schedule. Sometimes you just miss your special.   

So, what is my point?  

Let’s just say you go on a short trip and return to school, with say, ten minutes left of my scheduled time with your class. No, it is not alright to deliver them to my door for a ten-minute class. It is disrespectful to me and my time and any lesson I might wish to have with them. Please don’t do this to me! 

Although I focused this on field trips, it applies to school assemblies or special occasions, too. Here’s an idea- send one student to me and inquire about the class for that day. I can then decide if I need to see the class for a short time- possibly to get some ideas and planning started and we can continue the following week. Or I can politely say, “Let’s skip this week.”

My class is more than just fun.

Does this really work for these kids? No, it doesn't and it makes me think my class is so unimportant that it is considered only fluff and fun and can be missed easily. And, quite frankly, it makes the kids think that, too.

 This happens occasionally. Students misbehave in their regular classroom and since a special is “fun” the attendance is withheld as a punishment. Wow.   

Does this really work for these kids?  

No, it doesn’t and it makes me think my class is so unimportant that it is considered only fluff and fun and can be missed easily. And, quite frankly, it makes the kids think that, too.  

So, there you have it, my teacher friends. You may agree with me completely or totally disagree. I have walked both paths, as a regular classroom teacher and a specialist. I understand both sides and I hope I have given you a different perspective to think about.   

As you can see from reading through the comments left below, dialogue needs to happen with specialists and the classroom teachers. Mutual understanding and respect can happen. And who wins? That’s an easy answer! Your students win. And that is the reason we arrive at the school each day.

What Specialists Wish You Knew! You leave your kids in Music or Art or PE or Drama or STEM and there are so many things those teachers wish you knew. Great post from a former classroom teacher that is now a specialist!


  1. My daughter is a second year music teacher, your post is spot on! She has to travel and use other teacher's classrooms. (That could be a #6) She says that her students get music once a week and she needs to give them 100%, there is no down time. We compete on fitbit and she skills me with her steps.

  2. Yes! All of this! I can't even explain in one comment how much this post resonates – I'd end up writing a post of my own! Number 1 and 3 especially! I also love when events are scheduled the same time mytiple weeks in a row which means I miss the same class each week. Frustrating!
    Thanks for posting this!
    Teaching Voracious Learners

  3. Hi Kelly! I totally agree with the traveling classroom dilemma. Two years ago when I started my specialist job I traveled and shared a classroom in another school. That classroom was also the dumping spot for teachers to leave their junk! It was not a happy place! Thanks for stopping by!

  4. Hi Katie! Oh I totally forgot about classes being missed! My Monday and Friday groups always get short changed due to holidays. I'd love to work out a rotating schedule so that the same classes don't always miss, but the teachers would not go for that! Thanks for stopping by!

  5. I love this post! Thank you for explaining just how hard it can be to be a specialist. You guys are also organizational masters!

  6. I was a specialist for four years before getting my own classroom. Many classroom teachers treated me disrespectfully and claimed that I "was not a real teacher." Now I treat specialists with kindness and respect because I've been in their shoes. Nice post!

  7. Spot on! #1 is huge, by the end of the day I am emotionally and physically drained. I LOVE my job, it's just exhausting! I only wish Specialists were shown the same respect as 'core' teachers

  8. You are exactly right! It is respect that is the main concern. I just think the classroom teachers might not ever think about it as that. Thanks for stopping by! Have a great summer!

  9. It was hard to write because I don't want anyone's feelings hurt, but at the same time I think specialists are deserving of the same respect as the classroom teachers. They are teachers, too! Thanks for stopping by!

  10. Amen, sister!!!! As a music teacher of 18 years you are spot on and I LOVE that you have the insite of a classroom gen ed teacher and a specialist. I have a GREAT amount of respect for my gen ed teachers but sometimes I feel like they look down on us as "only a music teacher," or "only a pe teacher." I wish that there was a greater amount of reciprocated respect. And we don't mention your forementioned points to be snarky. But we work equally as hard at our pedogogical practices as other teacher.

    And when it comes to comparing the jobs of a classroom teacher and a specials teacher, which I have many colleagues try to do, you can't it's apples and oranges. IT's a completely different teaching skill set, different environment and world all together.

    The one thing I would add to your post is assessment. I service 750 kids a week, I hear ya on the name! But the grading issue… we have 5 areas of assessment, per child. That's 3,500 grades per trimester! That's so much data!

    Again, thanks for a GREAT post!

  11. Thanks so much for your views Amy! I agree with all you have said. I love my classroom teachers, some of who I worked with for years and years when I taught a regular class. But, I still hear words like this, "Oh they are just missing Music!" (or library or drama, whatever) I don't think they intentionally are being disrespectful, just not aware of what it means to us when we hear this.

    As far as assessments, I am lucky that my grading for my class is optional. I do send one grade per month to our regular teachers and they record it as a science grade, but I am not responsible for more than that. The task of assessing every student in the school is daunting, indeed!

    Thanks again for visiting and for sharing your perspective!

  12. Thank you so much for this post! #1 especially hit home with me. I was a traveling music teacher this year, pushing a cart around the building from class to class. We had 55 minute periods once a week, with the first five minutes and last five minutes being used to set up and break down. Plus, with no passing time and every other class being on opposite levels (I teach in a two story building) I was always five minutes behind or more due to #3. I would then get asked why I hadn't responded to an email or called so and so's parents yet, I'd lose it! On top of these things, I'd add attending PD that pertains to our subject on our own time at our own expense to your list.

  13. Hi Crystal! Thanks for sharing with me. I have also traveled to another school to teach two grade levels, but at least I had a classroom. I cannot imagine having to push a supply cart from room to room. I think this blog post is resonating with a lot of people and hope that it promotes some honest dialogue between the regular teachers and specialists. WE are all in this together!

  14. Thanks for expressing this so eloquently. You touched on many of our concerns. Another is bathroom breaks or lack thereof. When a class only meets for 45 minutes a week, students coming and going to the bathroom is a huge disruption — especially for the youngest kids for whom the urge to go is "contagious"!

  15. Wow! I just retired after 37 years of teaching Elem. PE and you hit all of my concerns on the nose! I agree with every point you mentioned. My average number of steps per day is 27,000 steps and yes I hated the teachers who were late to class every day. I had one teacher this year that the only time her students were on time was when she had a sub. And yes, don't use my class as a punishment for students not doing your work. I have standards I teach daily and I need my students to be in class. I agree with everything you said!!!!!!!

  16. Oh my gosh!!!!! THANK YOU!! I have been a hands on (basically STEM) science lab teacher for the last 4 years (ESE before that) and each year it gets harder and harder because, not only do I have to deal with every single issue you listed, but I am expected to teach not 2 or even 4, but 6 different grades from Kindergarten to 5th. I LOVE science and I love kids, but the scheduling is killing me. Thanks for sharing, it's nice to know it isn't just me.

  17. Don't forget, when you pick up your class, have the decency to actually come to the door and speak to me.

  18. Thank you for such a good post! I am a music teacher and most of your points resonate with me. I also find that other teachers use my music time for their students to catch up on their work. I have to send out diplomatic reminders to staff that I do assessments just like they do and the student cannot miss music.

  19. Hi Kathy! I worked really hard to make this post meaningful, yet respectful of classroom teachers. I know they work really hard, just like I do. I am guilty of the bathroom break no-no myself. I used to deliver kids to specials and tell the specialist that a kid or two stopped at the bathroom on the way to the class. I had no idea this was a problem for that teacher. Thanks for stopping by!

  20. This was a wonderful post! One of the "regular" classroom teachers from one (of two) of my schools shared it with me. She also included "I'm sorry. I'll do better." And she's one that I feel has a great deal of respect for me and what I do. I'm a music teacher at two elementary schools and I often hear, "Man, I should have gone to school to be a specialist, life would be so easy." If they only knew! I have total respect for classroom teachers, and I just wish they would have a little for me.

  21. I hear you! One thing I have tried to do with my classroom friends is send them a weekly email outlining what we are doing in my class and what standards I am covering. My hope is that they will see we are covering content that can be checked off their standards lists and not punish kids by keeping them away! Thanks for sharing your views and for stopping by my blog!

  22. ESL teachers too.
    I would also add to the list those times at meetings when we have no one to sit with (or aren't invited to sit) and party days when everyone is celebrating and we aren't included.
    For #1, I'm afraid some think I am unfriendly. It isn't that I don't want to visit with them, I just don't have free time and every minute counts. When they stop me in the hall it takes away from my limited time with students.
    #3 & #5– They don't so much punish students by keeping them from me, but they plan fun activities for the class during my time and want to keep the students. This makes me feel that they see my class as unimportant and makes me the "bad guy" if I keep them from their class reward. I usually pick up my students and often the teacher will say, "I'll send them down when we finish___". So much for the 30 minute lesson I planned that we will build upon for tomorrow. Sometimes it is hard not to feel hurt.

  23. Oh my, that is a big issue! I think sometimes when my teachers drop their kids off they are in a rush to get back to their own planning and prep time. I try not to take it personally, but it is really nice to have adults to speak to occasionally! Thanks for coming by my blog today!

  24. Agree with this- sometimes kids are kept from specials to catch up on classroom work. I don't know an easy answer for this one- except dialogue. I do keep my classroom teachers informed about what we are working on and especially remind them that my class is always about group work so a missing students hurts the whole team. Thanks for visiting my blog!

  25. Wow, that is really interesting that the teacher contacted you. I worked really hard in writing this to be sure to include many comments that classroom teachers work very hard and have huge responsibilities, while also passing on some info about specialists. I am so glad this resonated with her. You are correct, too, about the misunderstanding that the specialist job is easy. Nope. It's different, but just as demanding as the classroom- with lots more kids! Thanks for sharing this with me!

  26. Goodness, I totally understand what you are saying. Let me relay this: on our last day of school this year I had not planned to have any classes. One of the teachers that should have been on my schedule that day sent me a message that she was not planning to send her kids unless I had a lesson prepared. She was checking to make sure I was not expecting them so I would not waste my time getting ready. I thought that was extremely kind! I think I am making progress with my teachers in understanding the specialists! Hopefully, you can open some dialogue with your teachers! Thanks for sharing with me!

  27. Spot on! Have lived this for 11 years (music teacher) and wish more,regular classroom teachers understood what our school life is like! During EOG time is even worse..we specialists help with testing; when we finish the 1st round of testing, we also administer/proctor extended time testing. I can't tell you the number of times a regular classroom teacher has asked us "since you're done testing, are we having class?" We've been testing all day, had no lunch, had no planning, and you want to know if we are going to take your students? Can't express how angry it makes me. Can't tell you the number of times that our class gets interrupted by assembles we were not told about or the times when a class comes from an assembly with only 20 minutes left of our class and the teacher drops them off and just leaves them standing at our door. We've had teachers keep their students back to work on class work when I need them for my own accountability measures ( we have a process we have to do called ASW which supplements for us not having an EOG….most teachers don't realize we have to do this because it's state mandated) and we have to answer to the state just like they do. I love what I teacher but hate being treated like a 2nd class citizen.

  28. I completely understand all you are saying. Do consider talking to your teachers. As a classroom teacher I made some of these goof-ups without realizing it and only when a specialist pulled me aside to tell me did I get it. I was embarrassed because it had never occurred to me that keeping a student out of the special for a conference was a no-no. I thought it was "just music". Boy, was I wrong! It took becoming a specialist to completely understand the other side of this fence! I hope things change for you! Thanks for stopping by!

  29. What about all the times when you have extra students (or sometimes an ENTIRE extra class) because either a teacher's absent with no sub & his/her class is split OR another Specials teacher is absent with no sub and HIS/HER class is split. Some weeks that happens 3 out of 5 days and you have to scramble to find extra sets of materials, seats, etc. as the class is at your door!

  30. I feel you. However, most of the time the classroom teachers have to deal with this as well. On the other hand, I have been pulled for meetings with the principal and instead of getting me coverage, that decided to send the classroom teacher back, and told her I'd make up her plan time on mine. Meanwhile, I have been sent to rooms to cover for teachers that have meetings without my time being made up, because really, what else did I have to do?

  31. We finally got a rotating schedule a few years back and I love it. Unfortunately it also meant we get more kids. They split the grade levels into 5 groups no matter how many classroom teachers there are. Usually 6, but a really big group has resulted in 34 kids in each class. (24 in each of 7 homerooms..)

  32. Absolutely happybooker1! Having combined classes has happened to me a couple of times, but I truly believe the teachers that brought those kids never even thought about what this would do to my lesson. As school begins in August this year my plan is to outline some things I need my teachers to know and present them with this list from the beginning. High on that list will be the point you brought up. I think it will be dialogue between teachers and the specialists that can create some changes! Thanks for sharing your views!

  33. So much YES! Sometimes these can be hard things to bring up, but thank you for an honest article 🙂

  34. Thanks for visiting Anne! I promise you I thought long and hard about everything I wrote. I would never want to come across as whiny or preachy and hurt feelings of my regular classroom teachers. I was one of them just a few years back and I know how tough their job is. My goal was to start a dialogue to bridge this gap and hopefully we are doing that! As I stated above we are all in this together and it really is all about the kids anyway!

  35. I work in an urban school district, and teach at three schools. With over a thousand students to see each week, knowing all their names is impossible. Thank you for mentioning that.

    I will, however, point out that students in my district area overwhelmingly I'll behaved. I welcome teachers who withhold their kids from my classroom for poor behavior not as a punishment, but to ensure that the rest of the class can have a successful music lesson without one (or three, or five) students disrupting the class and making it impossible to teach.

    I would also say that, in conjunction with the above, the specialists I know need help when it comes to consequences for behavior. If their class is after recess, I can't hold them in for ten minutes to write a reflection. If I'm not at the school the next day, I can't take time then, either. Being creative only gets you so far!

  36. Hi Kaela! Thank you so much for sharing your views!I am not opposed to students missing class that will be disruptive to the others. Sometimes that is the best solution for everyone. I also agree that classroom teachers must work with the specialists on managing behavior and consequences. It's hard for me to tell a student that they must miss recess due to behavior since the classroom teacher will have to follow through on this. Often they forget! Thanks for stopping by and sharing!

  37. Thank you for this article. It is very timely for many of us. Professional, open dialogue between classroom teachers and specialists is absolutely the key. Sorting through and working past the emotions we feel in the moment which get in the way of professional, open dialogue is often a huge challenge; trying to find a time when such a conversation can be seen as proactive rather than reactive can ease this. Perhaps the beginning of the school year when everyone is fresh is a good time to pursue it.

    I would add that it is essential to take the extra time with your principals and district administrators to make sure they understand the value of your instructional time and its many benefits for students. At the end of the day, in those situations where classroom teachers are not adhering to the schedule and you have done all that you can do to solve the problem, administrators are the ones with the authority to address this in a way that will ensure that all students receive all the services to which they are entitled.

  38. Hello Michael! Thanks for visiting! This little blog post of mine has sparked quite an ongoing conversation. You bring up the heart of the whole matter- it is about professional dialogue. I can honestly say that as a classroom teacher I was guilty of many of the misuses of my specialists. I had no idea. Only when a specialist pulled me aside to sweetly tell me, did I understand that her class was a learning environment, too- not just the "fun stuff". I truly believe that many classroom teachers are exactly like I was and they do not intentionally disregard the specialist's needs. I think they just don't know. The beginning of this coming school year would be the perfect time for the conversation to begin for many of us.

    I do not have a document ready yet that I will share with my classroom teachers this fall, but my plan is to simply and forthrightly outline my expectations. In a sweet and kind way, of course.

    Thanks again for sharing your perspective.

  39. Thank you so much for writing this. Yes, as a music teacher, I think other teachers think our job is so easy, but we are literally going full-steam all day!

  40. I'm a music teacher and just completed my 4th year. This year was the most frustrating year I've had for almost every reason you mentioned. One of the top issues I had all year was classroom teachers dropping students off early and picking them up late. Several times a week, I had several classes for 10 extra minutes or would finally walk the class back to their homeroom and not a teacher was to be found. My classroom is in a separate building with no bathrooom, so I wasn't having time to fit that in along with setting up for the next class. I often feel very isolated and like the campus babysitter. The teachers also no longer walk their kids to my door, they drop them off from a distance and I never have the chance to disuss behavior issues or other things without chasing the teacher down. I want to address this but I'm afraid it will come across as preachy, bitter or emotional. Your article has inspired me to think of a professional way to address all of these issues without being emotional! Thank you.

  41. Agree! And I know classroom teachers are equally busy in a different way! Specialists jobs are not easy!

  42. Hi Stephanie! I completely understand your frustrations! I do believe, though, that my teachers that don't walk their class all the way to my door have no idea that this is a problem. It is hard to mention things to them,but when I have I have been met with kindness and teachers that apologize because they had no idea that something was bothering me. I think communication handled in a kind and respectful way is the approach to take. I am glad my post has helped you!

  43. Thank you so much for writing this article and trying to communicate the challenges of being a specialist who sees regular classes. I teach 24 classes per week K-6 and still have to run my library. I barely have planning. Administrators and classroon teachers alike don't understand the amount of work it takes to run a library. I was without a PT clerk for many years and teaching and running book circulation while trying to keep order in a space as large as a library was an uphill battle. My clerk shelves, does book checkout and a few other tasks, but I still have the professional responsibilities, including ordering and managing a collection so that it stays relevant and up-to-date, managing the school website, And making sure staff has working equipment. Media specialists really are holding down two jobs at once. I could go on with many other over-burdened expectations, but I thank you so much for your article. I hope other bloggers take up this topic and expand on it so there is an understanding of what specialists do.

  44. I hope this blog post is a catalyst for many specialists to have a conversation that will bring about some changes for us! Thanks for visiting and sharing your points!

  45. I have always hated the terms "Specials" and "Specialists". Right from the get go, it sets up our classes as something special – something different than the classroom. It pronounces us (I'm an elementary art teacher) as something out of the ordinary, and that makes it ok to miss our classes, interrupt our schedules, and compromise our curricula. I know some districts use the term "Encore", but it think it's just as bad as "Specialist". One of the many reasons that I am stepping away from teaching art after 20 years.

  46. Thank you for this! I taught 3/4 art for only one year before I sprinted back to secondary! In my year of teaching at this level the 'specials' teachers were the only teachers who had to do both morning and afternoon duty every day, as well as many things listed here.

  47. We are also sometimes referred to as Enrichment- which brings in another can of worms, so to speak. I am sorry that you are leaving the teaching field and wish you the best. I love my job and have plans to be more assertive, in a kind way, with my teachers this coming year.

  48. That is interesting! All of the teachers in my school share afternoon duties, but only the specialists have morning duty. I think it's because our classes do not begin until 30 minutes after school starts and classroom teachers need to be ready before us. I don't mind the morning duty since all the specialists share it, but this is another point that needs communication. I am glad you were able to return to a more comfortable situation! Thanks for stopping by!

  49. Thank you for writing what I've been wanting to say. I'm a librarian, K-5, two days a week with no help. One day they check out books, and the other day I teach my curriculum. On one day I eat my lunch in the office so the secretary can go have her lunch with the teachers in the lounge. My scheduled hours are 4 to 5 hours each day. I hope you don't mind if I send this article to my staff. 🙂

  50. I hope, after all the very positive feedback I have had with this post, that an open conversation can occur with classroom teachers and specialists. If you feel this post will open that door for you, please share it. I think the message here is that mutual respect is needed and mutual consideration. When my teachers have a great need, maybe an emergency, I am the first to pitch in and help them out. I don't mind rearranging my schedule or "babysitting" a class when there is a true need. Goodness, we all do that! It's all the other things this post has brought out that weigh heavy on our minds and need some clarification. Thanks for stopping by and have a great school year!

  51. Yes, yes, yes! I am a school librarian, now in secondary. I was elementary for five years, but only the last year was on specials rotation. My pet peeve (as others have mentioned already) was when a teacher brought her class a "few minutes early" while another teacher picked up her class "a few minutes late." I had only 5 minutes between classes, but in reality, the timing never fell out this way. When two classes intersected in the library, I was responsible for 60+ children in transition at the same time. And it seemed certain teachers were especially chronic about the early arrival/late pickup. Teachers, if you have arrived with your class and another class is still there, please either take the existing class to their teacher or stay with your class until the other teacher shows up. This is a safety issue as well.

  52. YEESSS!! I am an elementary dance teacher, doing six classes a day! Fitbit competitors have nothing on me! Haha!

    Another main issue I have is traditional classroom teachers thinking that specialists are not 'real' teachers. "Oh you have the fun class", "Of course you are their favorite, you never make them do hard work", "You have to test them? What's on the test? How to touch their toes?" AHH! The arts are teaching history, culture, political issues, among main other topics that are critical to a well rounded education. We have standards, curriculum, and core content just like any other teacher. This is truly one of my pet peeves!

    Thank you for discussing this!

  53. I have the same issue sometimes, mainly with the fourth grade classes. Often they think their students are walking perfectly fine to our room, but we all know something drastically changes when that class no longer has a set of eyes on them! As soon as you mention what happens, they will completely understand!

  54. I completely agree with the points you brought up. We all have those teachers that are late and I think they have no idea how this impacts our classes unless we tell them. I do hope this blog post will spark those discussions and help all of us- because this impacts students as well. When we are stressed, angry, unhappy, trying to catch up when someone is late, the students are affected by this! And that is the most important thing! Thanks for visiting!

  55. Totally agree! One thing I have consistently done is send a bi-weekly update to my classroom teachers. I list what we have been working on and the standards I have covered. This gives them a little glimpse into my world and since I cover their science standards it's a win-win! Thanks for stopping by!

  56. I have to say I have had the opposite experience very recently. We have a music teacher who frequently goes over time (my lesson is last period!), doesn't want to make up missed lessons at all, plans events for her older groups during our lesson times, and when I asked about what she was assessing the kids on and questioned the 17 Bs in my class of 22, she replied that 'it's only Prep'. If you don't see validity in the agre group, why teach or assess it?

  57. I am sorry you are struggling with a specialist. Some of the things you mention are a concern for all of us. I wish I knew some easy answers, but I think every situation is different. I hope I am an approachable specialist that my classroom teachers can talk to and let me know if I am not doing things they way they need. Having said that, I also hope I can talk to those teachers with my own concerns. It's definitely a two-way street! Thanks for visiting and sharing your point of view.

  58. School librarian here… 34 is the *normal* number for 4th and 5th grade in my school, and I have a double first grade class with 44 students. There are almost 700 students in my school, K-5, and I have *all* of them weekly. Talk about not being able to remember names. On top of that, I'm expected to know all IEPs, differentiate, and teach full lessons (I am evaluated to EXACTLY the same criteria as classroom teachers). On top of that, students need to check out books, too, so I don't really get the full class period to do my lessons. I am also given all kinds of extra duties – a required exercise club during before-school contract time, a monthly after-school event that I was told to coordinate (not asked), distributing thousands of free books monthly (sounds easy but try dealing with all the boxes and organization). Then I am also supposed to manage the library and its materials, which pretty much doesn't end up happening a lot of the time because I'm always worrying about lessons. It is not easy to prepare and teach lessons for 6 different grade levels. Also, every time I have a graded assignment (which I'm required to have plenty of), I have 700 grades to enter. Try keeping track of that when you barely know half the students' names! Because of the way my district disrespects specialists, I will be transferring to a classroom job next year. Oh, and that's right, to be a librarian (at least where I am) you also have to be a certified classroom teacher. But most other teachers treat you like you must have nothing to do. I can guarantee most of them would not last in my job!

  59. I don't see how it would hurt anyone's feelings to point out that specialists have to work hard too (sometimes harder) than classroom teachers. The lack of respect is rampant and administration likes to heap on extra duties because they can never be convinced that specialists have enough to do. At my school, they gave an extra "happy holidays' prep to every teacher in the school *except* specialists. Where I am, we are generally treated as though our sole purpose is to provide prep time for the "real" teachers (classroom) yet we are overloaded with work and evaluated with the same standards as all the other teachers. I guess you can tell that I'm pretty much over it at this point.

  60. Hi Trista! I can tell you are frustrated and I also completely understand. My biggest problem with being a specialist is the classroom teachers thinking that my class time is THEIR BREAK! If I don't have class for some reason I hear about it. The worst is when they deliver kids to me for 10-15 minutes due to an assembly or some other reason and tell me they need that 10-15 minute break. What can I do for 10-15 minutes? Play a game with them. And I do, but I don't like it!

    I hope your journey back into the classroom goes well! Best wishes!

  61. I hear you about heaping on other duties. This year, my school has every specialist teaching intervention groups during THEIR BREAK! For some of us that means no break at all – all day long except for lunch. I totally understand why the school wants intervention groups, but my field of expertise is not reading intervention- so am I really helping the kids?

    Thanks so much for visiting my blog and I hope all goes well with you in your new position in the classroom!

  62. I also want to mention that specialists have no peers. Most specialists are not peers with each other because our curricula and goals are vastly different. Classroom teachers work in teams and can plan with each other and help each other out (unless your school is so small that you only have one teacher per grade level). We also usually have NO CURRICULUM – just standards – at least that's how it is in library. So ALL of our lessons are from scratch. There is no teacher's manual for each grade level, or a website that outlines it for you. This is especially true for library because different districts/admins have vastly different ideas of what librarians should be teaching. Most materials to be found are outdated (I bought several library lesson books and half the material still tied in with card catalogs). It would be so refreshing to actually have someone to help plan or else to have a teacher's manual outlining lessons. It's like a neverending brain drain. I have like 1400 grades to enter right now, and I am just plotting how I can flee the country.

  63. Well said, my friend. I agree with all of it. I am a science specialist. We are called Encore. I get each class for science one hour a week, kinders a half hour. At times, I am seen as "prep". The teachers at times don't want to hear about issues because "they have them ALL day", and I have had teachers march their classes down with ten minutes left of their time because they need their break. I am proud of what I do and how I can engage my 400 students and make learning fun and also academic. I collect data, too. I try to never complain because I would NOT want to be a regular ed teacher! Lots to celebrate…but not everyone understands we matter just as much as a regular ed teacher. Hear! Hear!

  64. I have been a regular classroom teacher and I do try to think about both worlds! Just get your class to STEM on time is the one thing I need more than anything! Thanks for stopping by!

  65. What can I (the classroom teacher) do about that? Today my specialist teacher told me she doesn't mind if I'm late but I need to take my class to the bathroom or use my math time? Hmmm..

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