Simply put, special education refers to the all-encompassing training and instruction of students with peculiar and exceptional demands. These needs may be mentally, emotionally and/or physically inclined in nature. Special education teachers are the cadre of professionals that are responsible for this category of education. These specialized teachers educate students who are challenged with any of a wide range of disabilities in order to improve the students’ potentials at living a life productive to both themselves as well as the society as a whole. Depending on the degree and nature of the impairment, the special education teacher’s responsibilities are varying and multifaceted in nature.
Special education teachers may work in private capacities with the students, or in groups. The special education teachers instruct the students using distinctive methods and apparatuses that suit the uniqueness of the students’ challenges. The major job description of special education teachers is to modify the standard curricula and syllabuses so as to meet the shortcomings of the challenged students in order to increase and the latter’s future prospects at reaching their loftiest potentials.
Special Education Teacher Job Duties
- Monitors, evaluates and safeguards the records of the special students’ performances using appropriate techniques and methods.
- Liaises with the parents/guardians and all other stakeholders involved with the student’s affairs. This is necessary in order to have a broader and more insightful conceptualization of the student’s requirements.
- Redesigns and modifies the standard curricula into more compatible and practicable concepts for the students’ improved productivity and progress.
- Establishes and maintains the most enabling and comfortable atmosphere for the special students to function satisfactorily.
- Instructs the special students using appropriate measures in general and sometimes, more detailed lessons according to the magnitude of impairment.
- Motivates and encourages the students about their unlimited potentials irrespective of whatever challenges they face.
- Maintains appropriate adherence to set rules and regulations. Some laxity can be permitted given the peculiarity of their cognitive and/or physical challenges.
- Special needs teacher
- Exceptional needs teacher
- Exceptional student educator
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2016) predicts that the growth rate for special education teaching as a profession over a period of 10 years from 2014 to 2024 is 6%.
Special Education Teacher Skills and Qualifications
- Undebatable patience and high tolerance is mandatory in order to be an accomplished special education teacher. This is due to the fact that working with special students can be a daunting task, and this necessitates the importance of being perseverant.
- Laudable passion and enthusiasm in handling children in general and exceptional ones in particular is a significant endowment for special education teachers.
- Possession of valid and credible academic qualifications as well as significant experience in dealing with special children/ students is very important.
- Spectacular creativity and/or inventiveness are important in order to keep the teaching-learning process enjoyable.
- Excellent inspirational and motivational skills are very important in order to always lift up the students’ morale.
- Impeccable interpersonal relationship skills are fundamental qualities a special education teacher should possess. These attributes help to promote effortless interactions amongst all the stakeholders involved in the education process.
- Exemplary verbal and also non-verbal communication skills are vital characteristics a potential or accomplished special education teacher ought to have.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2016), the annual mean wages for special education teachers range from $56,990 for preschool special education teachers to $64,020 for high school special education teachers. The broad average across-the-board for special education teachers is stated to be $61,280.
Education and Training
Special education teachers work in an array of educational levels from preschool and as far as high school in some instances. By virtue of this fact, the educational requirements and training structures vary. Notwithstanding though, the predominant educational qualifications generally expected of special education teachers include the possession of a relevant bachelor’s degree in relevant disciplines, as well as obtaining state-certified and approved licenses. Further academic qualifications and worthwhile membership of pertinent professional organizations is always a welcome development.