Special ed teaching is among the most respectful, rewarding, and thoughtful career paths. Special ed teachers get to help differently abled students by educating them and making them feel as more equals.
Becoming a special ed teacher has several benefits, such as high demand, boosted job satisfaction, access to a massive supportive community, and getting help from working as a team. Moreover, you mostly get summer break and weekends off and can learn new things forever.
However, special ed teachers don’t always have it easy.
Dealing with children with special needs can become stressful and require a lot of patience. Special education instructors may work with students who exhibit problematic behaviors or require much help to study well. This may be emotionally and physically taxing, requiring patience, empathy, and stamina.
To counter these challenges, every special ed teacher must know the following crucial things:
1. Take Frequent Assessments
Assessments such as IQ testing, behavior rating, and many others help special ed teachers narrow down special education students. Teachers can use these test results to modify and plan lessons for each student with a special need.
However, analyzing such tests requires careful attention and specific techniques and skills. Special ed teachers can benefit from advanced education like a master’s degree by taking online special education classes that can teach them unique testing skills, allow them to brush up on their assessment skills, and refresh their learnings. Additionally, taking clinical and school psychology courses can help teachers develop assessment skills unrelated to standard IQ and behavioral tests.
What’s crucial is that special ed teachers remain consistent with these assessments to monitor student progress. This way, teachers can continue to customize their lesson plans for special ed students and help them achieve maximum benefit in the classroom.
2. Practice Patience
If there is one thing we can’t stress enough on, it is to practice patience. As mentioned, becoming a special ed teacher is no child’s play. It requires you to be highly patient since some special ed students can be tricky to deal with and handle.
Teaching in a special education classroom can be a real challenge for teachers. Every child in the class has unique learning abilities, which can vary substantially. To tackle this, special ed teachers must create individualized learning plans for each student.
However, it can be challenging because some students may need more time to complete their work or fully comprehend a particular subject. So, the teacher may have to adjust their expectations accordingly.
Remember, you can only teach a special ed student something new if they fully understand the initial knowledge required to grasp more advanced concepts. You might have to review the same idea for many days and weeks repeatedly. Hence, it’s vital to keep calm and patient.
3. Listen To Your Students
Listening skills are imperative for all special ed teachers. Some students with disabilities may not be able to communicate in the same way as others, using words or writing. They may express themselves through gestures, facial expressions, or other alternative communication methods. Therefore, special education teachers must have excellent listening skills, so they can understand and pick up on these non-verbal cues and communicate with their students in the most effective way possible.
Moreover, establishing positive relationships with students is essential to teaching, especially in special education. Active listening skills are critical in this process as they help teachers empathize with students’ needs and provide emotional support. It can foster trust and understanding between teachers and students, resulting in a positive learning environment.
4. Remain Organized
Organization can simplify many tasks for special ed teachers and make learning fun for students. All instructors, especially those who work with disabled students, must remain organized. When a child learns in a structured environment, they gain confidence. A teacher can stay organized in several ways. Color-coded folders and notebooks, for example, are one option. To avoid misunderstanding, label all areas of the classroom. Every special education teacher must keep records to report kids’ successes to administrators and parents correctly.
Special ed teachers might have to collaborate with other professionals, such as speech therapists, to meet the needs of some students. Staying organized can help them to keep on top of important information, enabling them to communicate more effectively with other team members.
5. Calming Nature
Remaining calm and composed is an essential quality that special education teachers must possess. Students with disabilities can quickly become overwhelmed or frustrated due to their unique learning needs. A calm teacher can assist in de-escalating unpleasant situations, lowering stress levels, and making students feel safe and comfortable.
Additionally, special education teachers frequently work with students with challenging habits such as aggressiveness or self-injury. Teachers must stay calm and composed since overreaction only exacerbates the problem. Teachers can help prevent the problem from worsening by maintaining their cool and teaching students practical strategies to regulate their emotions and behaviors.
6. Be More Adaptable
Special education teachers must be adaptable because they work with students who require specialized learning. These students may require unique accommodations or curriculum changes, implying that teachers must be adaptable and adjust their teaching approaches to fit the distinctive needs of each student.
Furthermore, special education teachers may work with students with different abilities or medical issues that affect their learning and engagement in the classroom. Hence, teachers must be able to adjust their instructional methods in such instances to ensure that students receive the assistance they require to succeed.
Special education educators have a tremendous responsibility to their students and communities. Their hard work and effort to educate special needs children can bring a much-needed change in this world, making it a fairer, more equal place to live.
However, If you want to pursue special ed education as your career, remember that special ed teaching can sometimes become overwhelming and exhausting. Hence, sign up only if you can pass the challenge. Rest aside, several online resources and guides are available to help teachers improve their teaching mechanisms and become better at their jobs.