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If you’re looking for a way to change your teaching career, while not giving up working with students becoming a SEIT can be a good option. Getting started as a SEIT can be intimidating, but it offers more freedom than a traditional teaching job, while still keeping you active in the field. Read this blog to learn tips and tricks for getting started as a SEIT and common pitfalls to watch out for!
I know in the past I’ve written a lot about the challenges of being a SEIT.
However, being a SEIT offers a lot of benefits.
You get complete control over your schedule and can decide your own workload, while still making a difference in children’s lives.
But the best part is that you aren’t beholden to administrators dictating your lessons plans and what you teach. Instead, you have the power to look at your students and base your decisions on what is in their best interest to learn!
If you’re sick of the classroom becoming a Special Education Interium Teacher can be a great way to get out of it, without giving up on teaching completely.
I love being a SEIT, which is why I not only blog about it but have been doing it my whole career, and we as a field need more high-quality SEITs.
So if you want to make the switch from classroom teacher to SEIT, read on to find out my tips and tricks!
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Getting Started as a SEIT
The first thing to be aware of is that requirements for SEITs vary from state to state and sometimes even city or county.
My experience of becoming a SEIT is based completely on what it is like in New York, or more specifically New York City.
In NYC SEITs need
- To have not worked for the Department of Education for at least a year
- Have a Masters
- Be a certified special education teacher
However, the requirements in your area might be different. Reach out to other SEITs you know to learn about the specific requirements of your area.
You don’t want to start work, and then have problems with payments because you don’t meet every requirement or forgot to file some specific form.
If you don’t know any other SEITs in your area, consider reaching out to an agency. Even if you don’t want to work with one, they might be able to help you.
But be aware they’ll always contact you to try and get you to work cases for them.
Should I work with an Agency?
Working with an agency certainly has its benefits.
An agency will know what paperwork you need to file and guide you through getting started. On top of that, you don’t have to worry about finding clients when you’re with an agency.
They have large contact lists, and if your area is anything like mine, they probably have more clients than SEITs. I’m always getting contacted about new cases.
However, there are downsides to working with an agency.
Your hourly rate will be lower because they take a fee off the top.
Many of them also require additional paperwork and reports that the district doesn’t require when you’re working independently.
For example, my agency requires log notes to be submitted with all district billing forms and quarterly reports.
Meanwhile the cases I’ve worked on independently without the agency, only require one form for billing and annual reports.
Note: You can also work a blend of cases. I know many SEITs who work some agency cases and some independently. Though you have to keep track of which is which.
Why Did I Work With an Agency?
I choose to stay with my agency for a couple of reasons. It seems like my cases are always changing and the settlements they come to require different kinds of billing and different kinds of contacts.
It’s impossible for me to keep track of, and I just don’t have the head for bureaucracy.
Also, a few years ago I tried to transition to work on a few cases independently, and it was a disaster.
I worked on one case for three months in the spring of 2019. I didn’t get paid for that work until the end of 2021.
And when they did pay me it was not the correct amount. I complained and was given the cold shoulder.
And what’s worse is that that isn’t even the worst story I’ve heard.
The district in New York City is horribly disorganized, and they take forever to pay SEITs.
The less I interact with them the happier I am. So I choose to work with an agency because
- They pay me on time and in the correct amount
- They deal with the district for me
Some SEITs I know are willing to deal with that in order to make more money, but personally, I’m just not comfortable relying on such a disorganized system for my primary source of income.
However, it’s a personal choice and you should do what works for you.
If you’re in New York City and want to work with an agency, this is the one I use.
Again, if you’re working with an agency then they’ll do all the client-finding for you, which can be nice when you’re starting out.
Honestly, the best thing I’ve found to get clients is to be good at my job, professional, and kind. Then I get referrals or references through word of mouth.
Parents of children with special needs tend to all know each other, and so when they’re looking for new SEITs or Paras or Home Health Aides they all talk to one another.
Do your job well and network! That’s the best way to find families to work with.
The biggest obstacle is going to be finding your first family and getting your foot in the door. However, again, I recommend using your connections.
I used to babysit for the first family I worked for as a SEIT, which was great because I already knew the kids and the parents knew how dedicated I was.
Chances are if you’re looking into this profession, you already know a SEIT or family who uses SEITs. Ask if they know of anyone looking for providers, and get a sense of what jobs are available in your area.
A big part of being a SEIT is getting the freedom to teach how you want to teach, and work when you want to work. However, because of that, there are also a lot of decisions to be made, and it all comes down to personal choice and preference.
Working with an agency works for me because I’m willing to lose out on some money in exchange for getting paid on time and not having to work with the district. Other SEITs I know hate working with agencies because they have more requirements.
It’s a matter of personal preference, and when you’re first starting out, it can feel intimidating to suddenly be able to make all these decisions about how you would like to work.
Don’t let that scare you off. Seek support from knowledgable people in your area, and allow yourself to learn, grow, and adjust to your new position.
And while you’re here make sure to check out this post on great last-minute activities on SEITs, so you’ll have something to do with all your students once your paperwork is taken care of!