A career in special education is rewarding beyond measure. This specialized track within the education field will give you the opportunity to work with children and teens who need additional support to learn and succeed. However, it’s important to note that it takes a patient, creative, even-tempered, driven, and intuitive individual to fully embody and embrace this highly respected role.
If you’re thinking about becoming a special education teacher and want to find out about the process and whether or not you have what it takes, read on. Learn everything you need to know to prepare yourself to enter this exciting and fulfilling career.
Special Education: Do You Have What It Takes?
Being a special education teacher is not easy.
It’s a very challenging job that is difficult every single day. Like all teachers, special education teachers work long hours and face many obstacles along the way.
But, the obstacles they face in helping students get the services and learning experiences that they deserve are small in comparison to the feeling of victory when a supported student achieves something no one thought possible.
Special educators must be innovative. They must use their knowledge and skills to determine ways to reach every student.. The students with whom they work have a wide range of disabilities. These teachers need to know how to think on their feet and may need to develop an entirely different curriculum for each and every student they serve. In special education, an effective teacher will constantly evaluate his or her students. He or she will adjust lessons and the delivery of those lessons to suit each individual.
As a result, special education teachers wear many hats. A typical day in the life of a special educator might include an hour of helping a dyslexic third-grade student master letter sounds and core vocabulary words. This might be followed by an mid-morning of practicing strategies to remember math facts with a fifth-grader with dyscalculia. In the afternoon, he or she may spend time teaching life skills to a group of middle-schoolers with autism.
Every day is different in the field of special education, and that’s exactly why so many teachers love it so much.
Where and When Do Special Education Teachers Work?
Special education teachers work in a number of different school settings. Some work one-on-one with students in a pull-out capacity. Others push-in to the classroom and support their students in an integrated classroom setting. Still others work with a specific group of students all the time in a self-contained special education classroom. Many special education teachers do several of the above types of teaching over the course of a single day. The expectations of their position may greatly change from year to year.
Most special education teachers work year-round. In the summertime, they offer support in summer school. They also help keep students with learning disabilities on track while other students are on break.
When you work as a special education teacher, the workload never seems to end. However, the amount of dedication these men and women have is inspiring to all. In addition to working with students in the classroom, in small groups, or one-on-one, special education teachers also need to meet with parents and administrators. They also must write individualized education plans (IEPs) for each of the students with which they work. And, they must keep detailed records of the services they deliver and of their successes and failures in educating each of their students.
How to Become a Special Education Teacher
If the above sounds exciting to you, then you would likely make an excellent special education teacher. Fortunately, there are many colleges everywhere that offer a training program in this field.
The first thing you will need to do to become a special education teacher is to pursue a state-approved bachelor’s degree in special education. Some states also require a master’s degree, but all require at least a bachelor’s degree.
If money is an issue, there are many scholarships available for people who wish to become teachers. You simply need to seek them out and apply. Further, you can save a lot of money on a teaching degree by completing your prerequisite classes at a local community college. Then you can transfer to a four-year program.
While studying for your degree, you can gain a great deal of experience by volunteering in special education classrooms. You will learn so much during this sort of hands-on, experiential training. The time you invest will look great on a resume when the time comes to look for a job.
Towards the end of your training program, you will be required to participate in one or more student teaching internships. This, too, is wonderful, applicable experience that will help you to become a strong teacher when you are on your own.
After you complete your bachelor’s or master’s degree, you will need to take licensing tests. Your teachers will help your prepare for these. If you study and apply yourself, you should have no difficulty in passing them.
Once you’ve passed these tests, you can use your degree and your scores to apply for your state teaching license. After everything is processed, you will be a certified special education teacher and you can begin looking for work.
Depending on where you live, the job market for teachers can be quite competitive. Don’t get frustrated if you struggle to find a position at first; keep trying. In the meantime, you might consider substitute teaching. Working as teacher’s assistant or aide can also help you to learn more about teaching and build your resume.Special Education Teachers Are Special
A job as a special education teacher isn’t for everyone. But, for the right people, it’s a calling and a passion, and many believe it to be the hardest job that you will ever love. In order to excel in this role, you must enjoy what you do and you must dedicate your life to the children and teens who need you. However, it’s certain that if you give it your all, you will get back just as much as you put in.
At Knowledge Prime, we love education and we love teachers. If you want to learn more about teaching as a career, please check out the Careers section of our site.