In the last decade, remarkable strides have been made in diagnosing children with learning disabilities, and medical advances now make it possible for students with certain injuries to recover and return to school, despite impairments.
As such, the demand for qualified, compassionate, creative special education teachers to address these needs in the classroom has increased tremendously - especially in light of legislative governing teaching methods for those with special needs.
Special education colleges provide students with specialized instruction beyond the standard curriculum development and teaching methods. Courses may cover such wide ranging topics as child psychology or development, special education law, and strategies for teaching special education. You'll learn how to deal appropriately with children of all ages who have mild to moderate disabilities, how to tailor Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) to students, and how to comply with federal regulations and monitor certain benchmarks in the learning for children. Additionally, as technological tools become increasingly important in special education instruction, your college coursework will most likely include training in certain software programs.
The field of special education can often be difficult and discouraging, and numerous standardized tests and reporting requirements cause many special education teachers to become overwhelmed. However, recent regulations seek to lessen that burden. Meanwhile, special education can also be an incredibly rewarding field, as you play a significant role in helping children to overcome challenges and become successful.
Special education teachers cater to students with special needs. These students, because of physical, mental or psychological disabilities, must be taught by professionals trained in helping students in need. To become a special education teacher, students must complete a degree program that prepares them to work with children who have special needs. This includes classroom training, coursework and completing proper teacher certification. Each state's Department of Education governs the requirements for average course contents, in-class training, and the various certifications. General studies constitute about 40 percent of the undergraduate program; 20 percent is devoted to education psychology and child growth and development; the remaining 40 percent concentrates on students with special needs.
A certificate or degree from a special education program will qualify you to work with a variety of students with special needs. You may be teaching special education to students with learning challenges, behavioral challenges, or in a gifted and talented students program. A job as a special education teacher is only possible after you have completed a special education program and received your state certification.
Special education teaching programs can be found at most universities and colleges, as well as online or through distance-learning programs. Programs available to people interested in teaching special education may include courses in classroom management, behavioral science, and testing techniques.
Then you must complete student teaching or supervised teaching in a special education classroom. You will work directly with students, and receive guidance from the supervising teacher or instructor.
In a special education job, you must track and test each student you work with. For this reason, most special education teachers enjoy a much smaller student-to-teacher ratio than traditional teachers.
Special education teachers provide a lifeline to children with mental or physical disabilities, helping them learn and develop crucial life skills. They adapt the general educational curriculum to meet the unique needs of each student. Some of the conditions teachers accommodate in the classroom include: mental retardation and learning disabilities, speech and language impairments, emotional disturbances, hearing or visual impairment, and autism.
Special education degree program is similar to the K-12 teacher training up to a point, but also includes intensive preparation for dealing with special needs in the classroom. The minimum qualification for a special education teaching job, a bachelor's degree in special education, incorporates coursework in special education. Many programs add a fifth year to the special Ed bachelor's degree program to enable students to complete some graduate coursework in the field and practice classroom teaching under the supervision of a certified teacher. A master's degree, which takes an additional two years to complete, is the preferred qualification for special education positions. This is also the appropriate degree for aspiring special Ed teachers who already have a bachelor's degree in another field. Both bachelor's and master's degrees are widely available online, making them accessible to working professionals looking to transition into special education.
Special education training will initially expose you to the full range of special education disciplines. It's not unusual for instructors to concentrate in just one area of special education, however. Graduate-level courses and degree programs encourage specialization in an area such as emotional problems or learning disabilities, and offer the opportunity to complete an independent research project on a specific topic in special education.
Besides a degree in special education, teachers must seek special state licensure. Licensing requirements vary from state to state, but include some amount of specialized coursework, supervised classroom practice, and an exam.
Individuals who want to have a positive impact on the lives of children who need special assistance in their academic development may want to consider a degree in special education. Special Education Teachers provide specialized attention to students who have disabilities that prevent them from succeeding in a classroom without extra support. Degree programs in special education train future teachers to work with these special students.
Special Education degree holders are currently in high demand as school departments struggle to find qualified educators to support their special needs students. The need for special educators is expected to continue growing over the next decade.
Associate's Degree – An associate's degree in special education will prepare students to be a classroom aide for special needs students. Note that some states require a bachelor's degree for these positions.
Bachelor's Degree – Those with a bachelor's degree in special education will typically become special needs teachers in public and private schools.
Master's Degree – A Masters degree in special education is required in some states to become a licensed special needs educator. This degree may also prepare students to become supervisors or administrators.
Doctoral Degree – Doctoral programs will prepare students to take on administrative roles or to become a college level instructor of special needs education.
Special Education Teachers must have a desire to help students who have learning disabilities, emotional disturbances, autism, health impairments and/or developmental disabilities. You have to be very patient, organized and able to motivate students. Since each special needs student has individual strengths and weaknesses, special needs educators must be creative in how they work with each student.
The majority of graduates of special education degree programs will work as Special Education Teachers in a public or private schools, working with students who have mild to moderate disabilities. A small number of graduates will work with severely disabled students, focusing on life skills and basic education. Those who earn advanced degrees may work in administration or as a college level instructor.