Special education is the practice of educating students in a way that addresses their individual differences and needs. Ideally, this process involves the individually planned and systematically monitored arrangement of teaching procedures, adapted equipment and materials, accessible settings, and other interventions designed to help learners with special needs achieve a higher level of personal self-sufficiency and success in school and their community, than would be available if the student were only given access to a typical classroom education. Students with special needs include those who have disabilities as well as those who are gifted. Special educators provide a continuum of services, in which students with special needs receives varying degrees of support based on their individual needs.
Special education refers to the practice of educating students with special needs in a way that addresses their individual differences and needs. Ideally, this process involves the individually planned and systematically monitored arrangement of teaching procedures, adapted equipment and materials, accessible settings, and other interventions designed to help learners with special needs achieve a higher level of personal self-sufficiency and success in school and in their community, than would be available if the student were only given access to a typical classroom education.
Special education is essential for students with disabilities. In order for a student to receive special education, he/she must have a disability as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). A student can be eligible for an Individualized Education Program (IEP), provided they meet certain criteria.
An IEP includes information about the student’s educational needs and how those needs will be addressed in school. The IEP team will determine eligibility for the program, develop goals and objectives that are specific to the student’s needs, and design an appropriate program plan to meet those goals and objectives.
An IEP may also include accommodations or modifications that will help a child learn better at home or in general education classes. Special education services begin when a child is found eligible for services by an evaluation team (which may or may not include parents). When a child turns three years old, they must have their first formal evaluation done by either their local school district or through private testing.
The special education teacher’s role is to help learners with special needs achieve educational success. The teacher does this by providing an appropriate level of support in a structured learning setting. The teacher must be skilled at adapting the curriculum so that it is meaningful, interesting, and challenging for the learner.
In addition to creating individualized lesson plans for each student, the special education teacher may also be responsible for classroom management, parent communication, and collaboration with other teachers and professionals in the school or district. In some settings, the special education teacher may also be responsible for some administrative duties.
There are several distinct teaching styles that can be used when teaching students with disabilities. The special education teacher will identify the most effective teaching style based on her knowledge of the students’ needs and preferences. A good special education teacher values each student and makes every effort to understand their unique experiences and needs.
As the implementation of inclusive classrooms has increased, the need for teachers to be knowledgeable about how to meet the diverse needs of all their students has also increased. These needs include accommodations and modifications as well as effective instruction, collaboration with families and other professionals, and best practices in assessment.
Teachers can ensure that they are meeting the individual needs of students by developing positive relationships with families and using open lines of communication. It is important for teachers to be familiar with federal legislation so that they know what their legal responsibilities are in regard to serving students with disabilities. Teachers should have a basic knowledge of the different types of disabilities in order to know what modifications may need to be made in their classroom. The most common types of disabilities include: learning disabilities, intellectual disabilities, emotional/behavioral disorders, specific learning disabilities (includes dyslexia, dysgraphia, dyscalculia), speech or language impairments, autism spectrum disorder (ASD), traumatic brain injury (TBI), other health impairments (including ADHD), deafness/hearing impairments, visual impairments/blindness and multiple disabilities.