Special education teachers deal with differently-abled students. They are different from general education teachers as they use unique methods to ensure that differently-abled individuals acquire sufficient knowledge and do not feel alienated.
Such teachers form a crucial part of society as they keep special kids from lagging behind other students. To cater to the unique needs and learning styles of such students, special education teachers are trained to identify and fulfill these needs. Based on their observation, they design individualized lesson plans. Their particular teaching methodologies maximize learning at one’s own pace. By attending to the needs of special kids, special education teachers help make the education system more inclusive.
The good thing about an inclusive education system is that it grooms the personality of every student. Each individual is prepared to face the challenges of life in their own way. Hence, such an education system provides society with greater chances of progress.
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) 1997 was a serious step taken by the American Government to curb discrimination in educational institutes. Resultantly, several states made prominent changes to make education available for all. With proper access to education and improvement in facilities for special students, many have secured similar academic achievements as regular students.
Is there a need for special education teachers?
As a result of official laws like IDEA, special education has become a big concern in the educational sector. What’s even more noticeable is the increased attention paid to degrees for training special education teachers. Programs for such training are now also available online. So anyone can enroll in an online MEd in special education and get the required training without quitting their current job. Hence, the provision of online courses makes it easier than ever to equip potential teachers with specialized skills. Universities also offer online certificates, which is another step toward advancing your career. As of 2018, 55.7 % of children and teenagers in the US were disabled due to cerebral palsy. Therefore, properly trained special education teachers can play a significant role in helping half the children of our nation unleash their full potential.
Despite the efforts of the government, in many districts or states, special students continue to face discrimination, lack of proper attention, and poor facilities. Investigation reports have predicted that 29 states fail to adequately observe the laws for special education. That sounds like bad news for the entire nation! But this is where special education teachers can play their part. Through their efforts, motivated by their passion, they can change the education system for the greater good of the country.
But to do great things, one requires exceptional talent and skills. Special education teachers need to develop a unique set of skills to up their game. Educators specializing in this particular area (special education) can contribute to improving the quality of special education in their community.
Unique skills of special education teachers:
a) Flexible Teaching style:
Special education teachers need to consider the learning style and capabilities of every individual student. A fixed teaching style won’t work since each student might have diverse needs. Special education teachers need a flexible teaching methodology that they can tailor to the specific needs of their students. They also need to be adept at switching between different methods from time to time. Likewise, they need to adapt the lesson plans and curriculum used in regular schools according to the level of their special students.
The most important skill you need to survive and thrive as a special education teacher is patience. Special children usually take time to grasp concepts or learn a new skill. Therefore, the teacher may need to repeat the same lesson for many days. In addition, some students may require extra time for individualized instruction. So, instead of racing to reach the course’s finish line, the teacher needs to accept that the pace of the course should be decided according to the students’ capabilities. They first need to ensure that the concept at hand is understood before moving on to the next one.
c) Familiarity with the latest technology:
With the swift technological advancements, several educational tools have been designed specifically for children with special needs. Special education teachers need to keep their knowledge about the latest technologies up-to-date. They should also receive practical training in using tools such as MathTalk, Math simulations, Text-to-Speech Assistive tools, Draft Builder, etc. Assistive technologies make the learning experience more productive and engaging for special students by amalgamating audio, graphics, and text.
Benefits for society:
As special education teachers support the personal and educational development of special students, their efforts benefit society in the long run. They can contribute a great deal to creating a peaceful and positive environment that fosters respect for everyone regardless of their abilities. Their passion for their field helps society in the following ways:
a) Make the lives of special children meaningful:
Special children need special attention, and when they do not receive this, they end up being left behind. Their lives remain meaningless without proper opportunities to explore and develop their full potential. On top of that, if teachers lack proper training to handle and teach such students, special education schools will serve no purpose. On the other hand, exceptionally skilled special education teachers can bring change and add meaning to the lives of special students. They can help them develop their abilities through individualized attention.
b) Create awareness in the society:
Special education teachers remain in regular contact with the parents of special students. In their meetings, they can brief the parents about their child’s learning style and hidden strengths. By informing the parents about the possibilities that special education promises, they can change the mindset of society.
c) Reduce discrimination against special children:
When special students unlock their hidden talents under the guidance of trained teachers, they get noticed for their achievements. In an environment that favors acceptance, special children can also become more confident and may socialize more. Once they start feeling at ease with those who respect them, they come out of their shell and make new connections.
In short, special education teachers are essential for an effective education system. Without specialized training, teachers lack the necessary skills to teach students with special needs. Proper training and a degree in special education will ensure a successful career as a special education teacher. Adopting this profession will be fruitful for the teacher, the special students, and society.