Special children have special needs, and the education system is responsible for providing them with an excellent learning experience.
There’s no doubt that working in special education is not for everyone. The work can be stressful and even frustrating at times – but people who have dedicated their lives to this line will tell you it’s rewarding beyond words.
As an educator who is about to work in special education, there are certain factors that you need to keep in mind. Every student is different, and it is essential to prepare for anything that might come your way. Please stick with us as we touch upon the most important things to know before working in special education.
Special education: how is it different?
When most people think about special education, they immediately believe that all children in the category are all the same. It could not be further from the truth. Each student classified as “special needs” has an individualized education plan (IEP).
You will require a different approach when it comes to instruction. Teachers must understand what each disability entails to provide the best possible support for their students.
Special education teachers need certification or licensure:
Like regular teachers, those who want to teach students with disabilities need licensure or certification from the state they wish to teach. Aside from obtaining an undergraduate degree, educators must pass state-approved teacher preparation programs and sometimes consider a post-graduate degree. If you’re unsure, we recommend you search for answers to earning your Master’s in Special Education online or contact your local college for more information.
A degree in special education online may assist you in reaching proficiency in this high-growth career area, whether you already have certification or are just starting. Graduates work in various occupations, including curriculum developers, special education coordinators, classroom instructors, etc.
It would help if you kept in mind that these programs can be competitive, so you must stand out. Before applying for a program, volunteering or working with students with special needs might help you get the necessary experience.
Teachers need to understand their students’ disabilities:
Learning more about students and their abilities is crucial for teachers working in special education. You need to identify different disabilities and how best to help students overcome any obstacles they may face in the classroom.
The most common disabilities you may encounter in your classroom are ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), Autism Spectrum Disorder, and Intellectual Disability.
- What’s the difference between typical development and atypical development?
- Which one am I working with?
- What strategies could help that student succeed academically despite their challenges?
You will ask these questions all day long as you work to help your students achieve social and academic success!
Remember that all students have individual needs and no two disabilities are alike- even if they share the same characteristics. Take the time to find out about your student’s particular talents and shortcomings so that they may succeed.
Teachers need a positive attitude:
Keeping a positive attitude with students is a trait of a successful educator. It can be challenging for some people who don’t understand disabilities like mental retardation, cerebral palsy, or Tourette syndrome. It indeed makes life more complicated than usual- but a negative attitude will only serve further to hinder the student’s success in the classroom.
It will be stressful:
Working with any student can be stressful, but it is essential to remember that your stress levels will impact theirs when working with a student with special needs. It is imperative to take some time for yourself every day- even if it’s just five minutes- to decompress and keep taking your stress out on the students.
Having fun is a must:
Regardless of the student’s ability, it is essential to remember that you are still a teacher in a classroom with children. Although some students may not be able to follow due to physical or cognitive limitations, they must have fun and enjoy themselves. It is vital for teachers in special education classrooms to maintain an upbeat attitude throughout the day to feel secure and happy during their time at school.
You’ll need to create opportunities:
Unlike a typical school, special education programs cannot always provide other children with the same experiences. It includes everything from attending field trips to participating in classroom activities. Many teachers who work in these settings need to be creative and think outside of the box when it comes to providing their students with opportunities for learning or having fun. For example, suppose your students can’t go on a class trip because of their disabilities. In that case, you can arrange for them to watch an educational video about animals at one of the local zoos instead.
Communication is key:
Communication is vital when working in any special needs setting. Many people may not understand how much time and effort goes into creating materials or scheduling events that work for every student. Ensure to communicate regularly with parents, administrators, and other staff members so that everyone is on the same page and expectations are managed effectively.
You will have multiple roles:
It is common for teachers in special education to perform a variety of duties depending on the needs of their students. For example, you may act as an aide and teacher for some classes. Your days will often include numerous tasks, including grading papers, providing instruction during class time, assisting with physical therapy sessions, or other medical procedures.
It is a well-paying profession:
Life as a special education teacher in a preschool might be hectic, but you can enjoy better compensation than other preschool instructors. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual pay for preschool special education instructors was $53,640 in 2017.
Remember, it’s all worth it:
It is essential to know that being a special education teacher can be challenging. However, it’s always worth the effort and one of the most rewarding professions! You may impact a kid’s life who would otherwise not receive any other type of support or care for their specific requirements.