Special education teachers are responsible for providing instruction to students with a variety of developmental and learning disabilities. They create and implement lesson plans that meet the needs of their students, assess student progress, and communicate with parents and other teachers.
Special education teachers typically work in elementary schools, middle schools, high schools, or special educational facilities. They often have a designated classroom or office where they instruct students one-on-one or in small groups. However, they also frequently follow their students from class to class to ensure that their needs are met throughout the day.
To be eligible for licensure as a special education teacher in most states, you must hold a bachelor’s degree in special education or a related field that includes specific coursework and field experiences required by your state. Some states also require you to complete an approved teacher preparation program before becoming licensed. States may also require you to pass certification exams administered by the Praxis Series.
Special education teachers work with students who have a wide range of learning, mental, emotional, and physical disabilities. They adapt general education lessons and teach various subjects, such as reading, writing, and math, to students with mild and moderate disabilities. They also teach basic skills, such as literacy and communication techniques, to students with severe disabilities.
Special education (also known as special-needs education, aided education, exceptional education, special ed. or SPED) is the practice of educating students with an IEP or Section 504 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 which may not be available if the student were only given access to a typical classroom education.
Special educators typically work with students who have physical disabilities, learning disabilities, emotional disturbances, intellectual disabilities, developmental delays resulting from prematurity or low birth weight, autism spectrum disorders, traumatic brain injuries and other health impairments such as visual impairment or hearing loss.
While some children have long-term difficulties that require substantial adaptation in the regular classroom setting others experience short-term difficulties during which they may require remedial support before they can return to their regular classroom. Special educators provide a continuum of services: from consultation with general education teachers to direct individualized instruction in the classroom or pull-out instruction in special classroom(s).
Special education teachers for preschoolers work with kids who have learning disabilities, mental retardation, or other conditions that make it more difficult for them to learn in a traditional classroom environment. They are responsible for designing and implementing individualized lesson plans, evaluating students’ progress, and communicating with parents about students’ needs.
Special education teachers often need to modify curricula to accommodate the needs of their students. This is especially true in preschool classrooms. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), most people working in this field hold at least a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university; however, it is possible to find positions for those who hold associate’s degrees or a high school diploma with specialized training or certification.
It is helpful for those pursuing this career path to develop strong organizational and communication skills and be able to multitask effectively. The ability to form relationships with students, parents and other educators will help candidates who are new to the field get hired and be successful once they begin working full time.