What is a Special Education Teacher?
A special education teacher works with students who have various learning disabilities, developmental delays, or physical disabilities. These teachers are trained to create individualized education plans (IEPs) for each student in order to address their unique needs and help them make progress in their academic and social-emotional development. They often work with a team of other professionals, such as speech therapists, occupational therapists, and psychologists, to provide comprehensive support for their students.
In addition to teaching academic subjects such as math, reading, and writing, special education teachers may also focus on teaching life skills such as communication, social skills, and self-care. They may adapt teaching methods and materials to accommodate their students' learning styles and abilities and provide accommodations such as extra time on tests, visual aids, or assistive technology. They also work closely with parents or caregivers to ensure that their students receive the support they need both in and out of the classroom.
What does a Special Education Teacher do?
Special education teachers are vital in ensuring that students with disabilities receive the support they need to reach their full potential. These teachers work tirelessly to create individualized education plans that are tailored to each student's unique needs, taking into account their learning style, developmental delays, or physical disabilities. By doing so, special education teachers help to bridge the gap between students with disabilities and their peers, ensuring that they have the opportunity to achieve academic success and develop the social and emotional skills necessary for a fulfilling life.
Duties and Responsibilities
Special education teachers have a range of duties and responsibilities that are critical in ensuring that students with disabilities receive the support they need to succeed. Some of these responsibilities include:
- Creating Individualized Education Plans (IEPs): Special education teachers work with parents, caregivers, and other professionals to create IEPs that are tailored to the unique needs of each student. These plans outline the student's current abilities, goals, and objectives, as well as the specific accommodations and modifications that will be made to ensure their success.
- Providing instruction: Special education teachers provide direct instruction in academic subjects such as math, reading, and writing, as well as social skills, communication, and life skills. They may use a variety of teaching methods and materials to accommodate the diverse needs of their students.
- Modifying curriculum: Special education teachers may need to modify the curriculum to ensure that it is accessible to students with disabilities. They may use visual aids, assistive technology, or other tools to help students understand complex concepts and ideas.
- Collaborating with other professionals: Special education teachers often work with speech therapists, occupational therapists, psychologists, and other professionals to provide comprehensive support to their students. They may collaborate on assessments, interventions, and strategies to help students overcome challenges and reach their full potential.
- Monitoring progress: Special education teachers are responsible for monitoring the progress of their students and making adjustments to their IEPs as needed. They may also communicate with parents and caregivers about their child's progress and work together to develop strategies for success.
- Providing emotional support: Special education teachers provide emotional support to their students, helping them to build confidence and self-esteem, and develop positive relationships with their peers. They may also provide guidance and support to parents and caregivers to help them navigate the challenges of raising a child with a disability.
Types of Special Education Teachers
There are various types of special education teachers, each specializing in a specific area of need or disability. Some of the most common types of special education teachers include:
- Learning Disabilities Teacher: These teachers specialize in working with students who have difficulties with reading, writing, or math. They may use specialized techniques to help students overcome these challenges and develop their skills in these areas.
- Emotional and Behavioral Disorders Teacher: These teachers work with students who have emotional or behavioral disorders that may impact their ability to learn and interact with others. They may help students develop coping skills, build positive relationships, and manage their behavior in the classroom.
- Autism Teacher: These teachers work with students who have autism spectrum disorder (ASD). They may use specialized techniques such as applied behavior analysis (ABA) to help students develop social skills, communication skills, and independence.
- Speech and Language Pathologist: These professionals work with students who have communication disorders such as stuttering, language delays, or articulation disorders. They may work with students one-on-one or in small groups to help them develop their communication skills.
- Occupational Therapist: Occupational therapists work with students who have physical disabilities or challenges with fine motor skills. They may help students develop skills such as handwriting, dressing, or eating independently.
- Physical Therapist: Physical therapists work with students who have physical disabilities or challenges with gross motor skills. They may help students develop skills such as walking, climbing stairs, or participating in physical education activities.
What is the workplace of a Special Education Teacher like?
The workplace of a special education teacher can vary depending on the type of school or institution in which they work. They may work in public or private schools, charter schools, or specialized institutions such as residential treatment centers or hospitals. Some special education teachers may also work in clients' homes or in community settings.
Special education teachers may work in a self-contained classroom, where they teach students with disabilities exclusively. Alternatively, they may work in an inclusion classroom, where they teach alongside general education teachers and provide support and accommodations to students with disabilities in a general education setting. Some special education teachers may also provide one-on-one instruction to students who require additional support.
Regardless of the setting, special education teachers typically work closely with a team of professionals, including other teachers, paraprofessionals, speech therapists, occupational therapists, and psychologists. They may also work closely with parents, caregivers, and administrators to develop and implement individualized education plans (IEPs) for their students.
Special education teachers may spend a significant amount of time preparing lesson plans, grading assignments, and developing assessments to track their students' progress. They may also spend time outside of the classroom attending meetings with parents, participating in professional development opportunities, and collaborating with other professionals to develop strategies for supporting students with disabilities.
While the job of a special education teacher can be challenging, it can also be incredibly rewarding. Special education teachers have the opportunity to make a significant impact on the lives of their students, helping them to achieve academic success, develop social and emotional skills, and reach their full potential.
Frequently Asked Questions
Teaching/School Related Careers and Degrees
- Adult Education Teacher
- Art Teacher
- Career Counselor
- CTE Teacher
- Dance Teacher
- Distance Learning Coordinator
- Elementary Teacher
- ESL Teacher
- Graduate Teaching Assistant
- High School Teacher
- Kindergarten Teacher
- Middle School Teacher
- Music Teacher
- Physical Education Teacher
- Preschool Teacher
- Private Tutor
- School Counselor
- School Principal
- Special Education Teacher
- STEM Teacher
- Substitute Teacher
- Teacher Assistant
- Virtual Teacher
- Bilingual Education
- Curriculum and Instruction
- Early Childhood Education
- Educational Administration
- Elementary Education
- School Psychology
- Special Education Teaching
Special Education Teachers are also known as:
Special Education Resource Teacher Self-Contained Special Education Teacher Inclusion Teacher