Students with learning disabilities, autism, mental retardation, speaking impediments, physical disabilities, and emotional problems can qualify for special education instruction and services. Teachers usually work with specific groups. Identifying students with disabilities is an essential duty of special education teachers.
Special education teachers work with students individually, assign problem solving projects, and organize small group projects. When students need special test taking accommodations, special education teachers coordinate these accommodations.
Special education teachers design an Individualized Education Program (IEP) for all special needs students. The IEP includes a student's goals, and it is designed to cater to the student's needs. The IEP may include a plan to help students make the transition to middle or high school. Special education teachers review a completed IEP with parents, teachers, and administrators. They also keep parents up to date about their child's progress.
Special education teachers prepare lessons, assign students with projects tailored to their needs, and grade papers. They also help students develop social skills and teach them strategies to deal with emotional problems. Special education teachers also provide career counseling.
Special education and other teachers are working together in general education classrooms. Special education teachers collaborate with other teachers to develop curriculum and assist special needs students. Special education teachers spend a lot of their time speaking with teachers, therapists, social workers, parents, etc., to make sure students' needs are being met.
Some special education teachers have their own classrooms while many team teach with general education teachers. Certain special education teachers work in resource rooms where students can come for help. It is rare for special education teachers to tutor students at their homes or work in a residential facility.
Bachelor's Degrees in Special Education:
To enter a bachelor's degree program, a successful candidate must have a high school diploma or GED. Generally, a bachelor's degree program covers general education courses in addition to special education coursework over four years. Undergraduate special education majors begin with introductory courses in education or psychology. Sophomore students participate in core courses covering education, psychology and child development. Third-year students begin the specialized training required for special education majors, including supervised experiences and classroom visits. Senior students prepare for certification and graduation with advanced coursework and student teaching.
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 the knowledge and skills needed for the education of students with disabilities. Many universities have instituted a fifth undergraduate year (or post-baccalaureate year) for special education majors, designed to provide additional training in educational psychology, legal issues of special education, and other highly specialized topics.
Master's Degrees in Special Education:
In some cases where the prospective special education major holds a general education degree, they may participate in further study to meet the special education requirements. All 50 states require public school teachers to hold a bachelor's degree and complete an approved teacher preparation program with a prescribed number of subject and education credits and supervised practice teaching. Many states require special education teachers to obtain a master's degree in special education as well as additional student training in order to become licensed. Compared to general education teachers, special education teachers routinely undergo longer periods of training as well as more intensive student teaching periods.
Best of luck in this great career!!