Special Education is defined as the education of physically or mentally handicapped children whose needs cannot be met in an ordinary classroom. Teachers of these students work with children who have a broad range of disabilities such as mental, learning, emotional or physical disabilities. They must equip students with independent living skills, basic literacy, math and communication.
Becoming a teacher specializing in this kind of education requires a level of dedication that often surpasses other professionals in the field of teaching. This kind of teacher must understand their students in a way that allows him or her to address the students’ highly individualized needs and help them to learn in spite of their disabilities, whatever they may be. They must be able to develop an Individualized Education Program, or personalized agenda, for each student that sets goals for their education and caters specifically to their needs.
Teachers of children with special needs must first become certified and complete a special education teacher training program. Some states allow general education teachers to train in a specialty and specialize in Special Education. Some states also offer alternative licenses to those without experience in education. These programs include instruction, an exam and one to two years of college courses while teaching under the supervision of a licensed teacher. Many states require a Master’s Degree in Special Education but some do not.
The skills of Special Education teachers are varied but each must possess an ability to effectively teach their students a variety of skill sets in order for their students to hopefully become independent and knowledgeable. These techniques include problem-solving, work in small groups, and one-on-one instruction. The teacher must be able to make all the required accommodations that students need to take tests, including reading the questions aloud, allowing a student to answer orally and/or increasing time on tests.
Economic outlook for a Special Education teacher is looking better and better as we head into the future. There is a 15% predicted job growth in Special Education Teaching positions with the highest growth in preschool, kindergarten and elementary schools. The average earning potential for those levels are $46,360 with the highest ten percent earning more than $73,620. Earning potential is slightly higher at the middle and high school levels, at $47,650 and $48,330, respectively.
Special Education Teachers have to opportunity to really make a difference in the lives of disabled students and many say that they have found no work more rewarding. Though difficult, it is said to be one of the most fulfilling positions in the field of education. Teachers must be dedicated, knowledgeable, patient and must keep up with all the new teaching techniques and methods. Though difficult, Special Education teaching brings joy not only to the students receiving the education but also to those bringing it.