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Education resource specialist: What I do and how much I make

Brechael Walker, an Education Resource Specialist, tailors learning for students with disabilities. She manages individualized education plans, collaborates with teachers and parents, and monitors progress. Her role includes adapting lessons, creating behavior charts, and providing resources to help students access curriculum. She also discusses her salary growth and benefits in the teaching profession.

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Video transcript

My name is Brechael Walker, I'm 31 years old, and I'm an education resource specialist. An education resource specialist essentially is a special education teacher. The only difference is instead of teaching an entire classroom of students at one time, I'm a case manager in that I see about 30 students throughout a day at different times within a small group learning environment. My largest group can be about six to seven students at one time, and I'm working with students exclusively with learning disabilities, and those disabilities can range from mild to moderate learning disabilities. Students with autism, who are on the high functioning spectrum of the disability, students with specific learning disabilities, such as reading comprehension, math comprehension, students who need support in writing, so I work with students varying in learning disabilities at the elementary level, as well. So, within a given year as an education resource specialist, I am a case manager, so I'm responsible for the individualized education plans for each of my students, and with that, that includes me writing reports and holding the yearly meetings with each of the students and the individualized education plan team, and in addition to that, I am creating progress reports to provide the teachers and the parents with a level of understanding as to how their child is progressing throughout the school year and I'm collaborating with teachers, with parents as I stated, and overall, I'm responsible for making sure that my students with learning disabilities are able to access the curriculum. So I might be pushing into the classroom and providing services and teaching a small group of students within the general education setting and providing them with resources so that they can access the curriculum content that they're working on with their main teacher. I collaborate with teachers, but my direct supervisor is the principal of the school, and so I work with the principal and the administration at the school, and I am a case manager in that I oversee all of the students on my case load's IEPs, and another word for IEP is individualized education plan, and so in conjunction with the school psychologist, the teachers, the parents, and the principal, we all meet together yearly for each of the students on my case load and we discuss the progress of that student and how we can better make change and goals to help that student within the school year. For a specific student that I might help within the classroom, I may do a small group within the back of the classroom after the teacher has done a overall lesson, and so I will provide that lesson in a way that the student can better understand it, so I'm bringing in visuals. I may take that student out of the classroom and we may do some movement or kinesthetic learning where they have tangibles where they can touch and feel. If they're working on a butterfly lesson, I might bring some visuals in about butterflies, and just making sure that I'm teaching to that student's strengths, and every student has a strength. Every student has a weakness, so I'm making sure that they're able to understand the lesson within the classroom through just bringing in resources and curriculum manipulatives. I work with a lot of students with autism, and a lot of my students on my case load that have autism are on the high functioning spectrum, but some of them have difficulties with behavior. So, this particular student wasn't able to sit in his seat. He was roaming around the classroom, sometimes leaving the classroom at inappropriate times throughout the school day, and so I made a behavior chart for him to make sure that he is rewarded every time that he is in his seat, he's focusing on the instruction that the teacher is providing, and so I would check in with him throughout the school day to make sure that he was able to meet his goals, and his goals are written on the log that he has on his desk, and so every time either the teacher saw that he was doing well or I checked in with him throughout the day and saw that he was doing well towards meeting his goal, we would give him a little sticker or token, and so throughout the day he would get a prize at the end of the day, and that's another part of my job. I'm always monitoring students' progress and behaviors in meeting their academic standards or meeting their behavior standards as well. I'm currently making $70,000 and I'm in my sixth year of teaching. I started making $48,000. That was my initial salary in my first year of teaching, so I've had a influx in salary over the past six years. I don't get bonuses per se, but there is a salary scale that most school districts have, and you get an incremental bump every year based on your experience or based on doing continuing growth educational coursework, so if you are going by years you would go down on the salary scale, but if you go by experience and you're taking educational coursework over those years, you'll move over to the right on the salary scale, and both of those, either years or the educational courses that you take as a teacher can increase your salary significantly. However, there is a cap on the salary scale for teachers. As a teacher, I have a retirement package. Medical is included with that, and then I'm also paying into the Teacher's Union as well.