Special education teachers are an essential part of America’s education system. They work with students who have disabilities or difficulty with basic life skills, social skills, and school subjects like reading, writing, math, and science. It truly takes a special person who can meet the variety of students’ needs and help level the playing field for those who face challenges other students may not face. It requires intelligence, patience, understanding, and a lot of love. Without special education teachers, many students would face disadvantages and might not have opportunities to succeed in school and beyond. Here are a few reasons why our special education teachers are so special.
They Do It All
The job of a special education teacher includes teaching lessons in school, but it doesn’t stop there. Students with disabilities also need guidance in social skills and basic life skills. Special education teachers might work with students on job training and bring them to job sites to learn the skills needed to maintain employment. They might focus a lesson on how to properly interact socially with other students. Another part of the special educator’s job is to write individualized education plans (IEP’s) and other legal documents that ensure the students’ needs are met, and to give them every opportunity at success.
They Have Patience
Teaching can be a thankless job. Special education teachers work with students who each have specific needs and challenges, and this takes a great deal of patience and understanding. It might take a student with special needs a long time to acquire a skill that a regular education student takes for granted, like tying shoes or using the restroom. Sometimes, students can act out, and a good special education teacher has a unique ability to maintain a level head when students struggle and becomes frustrated, often taking that frustration out on the teacher. Working with these kids can be challenging, but seeing them reach their goals and experience success makes it all worth it.
Working with students with special needs means getting very close to them and understanding what works and what doesn’t for each individual. This requires a very caring teacher who is willing to develop a relationship with the kids they work with. They need to listen and find out how their students learn, what shuts them off, how to best meet that individual’s needs. Sometimes a special educator’s job goes beyond teaching, and they act as a counselor or mentor for students who may be struggling with emotional issues and problems beyond the classroom.
A special education teacher is not a babysitter. They do not simply stay with students and help them get through the day. Unlike a regular education teacher, these teachers must be able to work with students on multiple subjects as well as a wide variety of life skills. If they are a co-teacher in the regular education classroom, they must become familiar with that curriculum. If they teach in a self-contained classroom, they must develop their own curriculum or learn that of the school and become well-versed in order to best teach the students. These teachers have to be adaptable, smart, and willing to learn.
Teaching special education is a calling. Individuals who have the capacity to care for students with special needs and who want to reap the rewards of seeing these students succeed should consider getting trained to be a special education teacher. There are many ways to get a special education degree, including online, which may be helpful for someone trying to get their degree while working at another job. Seeing a student grow throughout a year or more and gain skills they didn’t have previously is what attracts special education teachers and keeps them coming back.