There are few professions in America that are as beloved as being a teacher. Everyone has had one; everyone loves one; everyone has learned from one: teachers touch every child and adolescent in America, and their quest–forming and educating the next generation–is formidable, noble and difficult.
There are many kinds of teachers–kindergarten, pre-school, special education, high school, etc. Let’s focus on teachers who make a significant difference in ensuring children’s well-being in society: special education teachers.
What does a special education teacher do?
Special education teachers work with students with a wide range of disabilities, including cognitive, emotional or physical disabilities on the preschool, primary and secondary school level. Special education teachers use a variety of learning methods, including small-group work, individualized instruction, problem-solving work and many other methods. Special education teachers help develop the Individualized Education Program (IEP), which sets individual goals for every student. All teachers, but in particular special education teachers, must be patient and creative and find ways to effectively communicate learning material.
Educational requirements for teachers
In all states in the U.S., teachers and special education teachers in public schools need to obtain a teaching license. Requirements vary by state. Private schools are generally exempt from this rule. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, teachers must also have a four-year bachelor’s degree, although not necessarily in education.
Those who want to teach at the secondary level must typically obtain a bachelor’s degree in the subject they wish to teach, such as math, English, history, chemistry, etc. Due to the current nationwide teacher shortage, many states offer alternative programs to obtain teaching licenses. These are mainly for applicants who do have a bachelor’s degree, but who do not have the necessary courses in education that are required for licensing.
Special education teachers generally complete more coursework than other teachers, and are oftentimes required to either take a fifth year of study or complete a graduate degree, according to the BLS. The coursework includes classes in both general and special education.