“If kids come to us from strong, healthy functioning families, it makes our job easier. If they do not come to us from strong, healthy, functioning families, it makes our job more important.”
If you are considering becoming a special education teacher, you may have had many questions about what you will experience. How is it different from being a regular classroom teacher? What about the students, and can I handle whatever challenges come at me? Will I spend more time writing IEP’s and less time really teaching?
All of these questions, and the hundreds more you may have had, are all understandable concerns. Special education teachers need to have strong organizational and communication skills. They must have excellent interpersonal skills so they can interact with their special needs students, parents, social workers, and other faculty members. Teaching special needs students requires a great deal of compassion and patience. It also requires creativity. A special education teacher must be able to understand each student’s learning style and needs.
Special education teachers must be able to regularly assess a student’s progress. They must also be able to work with multiple students that each have different learning challenges, and be able to develop a learning plan based on each student’s needs. Special education teachers must also be able to validate everything they do, and make sure it is in line with the student’s IEP. A special education teacher may need to know multiple curriculum’s in order to help support the student in their regular classroom activities.
Demand and Salaries
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicted that special education teachers would be in demand between 2012-2022, because there is a reported shortage of qualified special education teachers in fast-developing U.S. regions, particularly in the West and South (www.bls.gov). The BLS expected jobs to grow by six percent within that timeframe. This slower-than-average growth is due to school funding issues, which can affect the number of jobs available in special education. In 2013, the middle 50 percent of special education teachers not working in preschools earned between $39,790 and $68,610, according to the BLS.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics predicts the following states will have the greatest job growth in the area of Special Education.
2. Washington, DC