Special education teachers carry the responsibility of educating children in grades preschool to twelfth grade who are diagnosed with a number of physical, mental and emotional disabilities. They work with legally required federal paperwork called an IEP, or Individualized Educational Plan, that outlines the necessary supports, accomodations and goals for an individual child. These goals can encompass both academic and behavioral concerns. These teachers also direct meetings with parents and staff regarding the plan and make necessary adjustments throughout the year. In the classroom, they work with children who can vary from mild to severe disabilities, using specialized techniques to help them reach their goals.
Many special education teachers hold a masters or bachelors degree in special education. Check out the programs below which over free information:
Special Education Teacher Job Responsibilities
Another key responsibility of being a special education teacher is collaborating with other staff to help a child improve. This can include regular education, art, music and physical educational teachers, support staff, physical and occupational therapists and administration. This individual is also responsible for doing record keeping on a child’s progress, dealing with problem behaviors and serving as a source of information and support in the regular classroom. Some of them work as co-teachers in a regular classrom with a general education teacher. This means that working well with others, brainstorming and being organized are essential characteristics for this type of job. Dealing with parents, administration and other teachers requires a professional attitude and the ability to work under pressure.
Special Education Teacher Training and Education Requirements
These teachers attend a four year program majoring in special education and can choose to specialize in mild to moderate or severe disabilities. They may also choose whether to teach at the elementary, middle or high school level. Classes required for this degree are outlined by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and with individual state guidelines. These include such classes as educational psychology, practical teaching methods, disabilities and legal issues in special education. The individual’s last year is set aside for student teaching, where they work under the supervision of a college professor and a classroom teacher. During this time, they get hands-on experience teaching before graduation. Before graduating, they also must pass the PRAXIS test and the required state testing measures to certify them ready to enter the classroom. Teachers must pursue their masters within a set amount of time, depending on each state and get continuing education units each year to maintain their certification.
Special Education Teacher Salaries and Wages
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, this area is one of the fastest growing in education. As more children with disabilities enter the public education system. Jobs in special education are shown to possibly increase by 17% by the year 2018. Those entering the field start on average with a salary of around $33,770 or less and those experienced earned at or above $78,980 in some cases. the average salary is approximately $50,810. Some teachers who chose to earned additional pay working as coaches, teaching during the summer and other tasks throughout the school year.*
*According to the BLS, http://www.bls.gov/oco/
Many schools offer incentives for people to enter school and teach in special education, including assistance in paying tuition, housing incentives and bonuses, depending on the area and the school district. This is especially for high need areas in education such as behavior or emotional disorders and autism. Salary can also depend on years of experience and education level.
Special Education Teacher Certifications
Achieving teacher licensure requires meeting federal and state guidelines. Some receive a general special education license, readying them to teach at any level from kindergarten through twelfth grade. Others can specialize in a particular area, such as autism or behavior disorders. This requires additional classes in this area and other specialized training. Some areas are in great need in many schools, and some students can attend an accelerated program that allows them to get licensed in a shorter amount of time. These are normally individuals who already hold a bachelor’s degree, and are pursuing a masters in special education along with licensure. Testing at the state level varies with each state’s legal guidelines, but ensures that the individual is qualified to work in that area. CEU’s, or continuing education units, have to be sent in to each state’s department of education to ensure that proper training is met annually to keep a license current.
Special Education Teacher Professional Associations
There are a number of professional organizations that special education teachers can join. The National Education Association serves the function as a union and support organization for teachers. They help to negotiate salaries and benefits for teachers, along with providing liability coverage for its members. NASET, or National Association of Special Education Teachers, offer members access to materials and information to aid them in the classroom, training resources and other support mechanisms to aid them in their work.