With patience, resourcefulness and strong communication skills, special education teachers create a positive learning environment for students with special needs. Special education teachers work with students who have learning, mental, emotional, and physical disabilities. They teach reading, writing, and math, and—for students with severe disabilities— they also teach communication and basic life skills. A special education teacher begins by developing an Individualized Education Program for each student, then implementing it and tracking student progress. Communicating with parents, counselors, other teachers, and administrators helps ensure they meet students’ needs. Tasks vary based on the student’s needs; teachers might develop flashcards for a student with hearing loss, facilitate a small group to teach collaboration for a project, or create a quiet corner for students with autism. Many use assistive technology to communicate with students. Most special education teachers work in public schools, with students ranging from preschool through high school. They generally work during school hours, following the traditional 10-month school year schedule. The work can be highly rewarding, but also emotionally demanding and physically draining. Special education teachers need a bachelor’s degree in special education or in an education-related field; or a content area, such as math or science with a minor in special education. A license is required to teach in public schools. States may offer a general license in special education, or disability-specific credentials, such as autism or behavior disorders.
What they do:
Teach elementary school subjects to educationally and physically handicapped students. Includes teachers who specialize and work with audibly and visually handicapped students and those who teach basic academic and life processes skills to the mentally impaired.
On the job, you would:
Instruct special needs students in academic subjects, using a variety of techniques, such as phonetics, multisensory learning, or repetition to reinforce learning and meet students' varying needs.
Develop or implement strategies to meet the needs of students with a variety of disabilities.
Develop individual educational plans (IEPs) designed to promote students' educational, physical, or social development.
Education and Training
teaching and course design
Arts and Humanities
Math and Science
arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, or statistics
using the best training or teaching strategies for learning new things
listening to others, not interrupting, and asking good questions
teaching people how to do something
understanding people's reactions
noticing a problem and figuring out the best way to solve it
communicate by speaking
listen and understand what people say
Ideas and Logic
notice when problems happen
use rules to solve problems
pay attention to something without being distracted
do two or more things at the same time
People interested in this work like activities that include helping people, teaching, and talking.
They do well at jobs that need:
You might use software like this on the job:
Device drivers or system software
Screen magnification software
Screen reader software
Voice recognition software
Nuance Dragon NaturallySpeaking
Electronic mail software
bachelor's degree or master's degree usually needed
New job opportunities are less likely in the future.
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