Teachers wear many hats and juggle numerous responsibilities to enrich learning experiences with interactive and immersive resources. They serve as educators, spiritual mentors, role models, motivators, facilitators, and teachers who are beacons of hope for special children. Special education teachers help their students develop a strong self-identity in a society that worships and celebrates make-believe perfection.
Working with students struggling with learning concerns, mental and emotional challenges, and physical disabilities isn’t easy. Teachers have to invest more dedication and resources, extend emotional support, and contribute beyond the role of an average educator. At times, students with cognitive disorders or social anxiety need one-on-one sessions to build trust.
Aspirants must know that special education doesn’t entail a traditional teaching role, for it demands deeper involvement and wide-ranging skills. Special education teachers must develop personal relations with each student to win their trust and engage them in learning experiences. Keep reading to explore the dynamics and responsibilities of a special education teacher.
Identifying & Addressing Students’ Learning Needs
Special education teachers teach children with wide-ranging physical, cognitive, emotional, and learning challenges. They work closely with each student to understand learning needs and design lesson plans that promote memory retention and mental stimulation. Each learner is unique in a special education class and demands a tailored approach to impart education and develop skills.
Special education teachers undergo rigorous training, and most schools recruit professionals with at least a master’s degree. Lesson planning is indeed one of the toughest challenges of teaching differently-abled children. Teachers are always hunting for creative activities and interactive media to bring the classroom to life with interactive learning experiences.
A master’s program will prepare you for the challenges of serving as a teacher, counselor, child care provider, and collaborator. Remember what we said about special education teachers wearing many hats? As a teacher, you will have to combine various roles to facilitate learning and monitor your students’ physical and emotional well-being. Aspirants can prepare themselves for this role by pursuing an MAT special education online program and innovative special education certifications.
Suppose you’re working as an entry-level special education administrator or teacher’s assistant, vying for deeper classroom involvement. In that case, it’s wise to pursue an online master’s program to develop specialized skills in special education. An MAT degree can open lucrative opportunities to educate differently-abled children in daycare facilities, schools, homeschooling arrangements.
Creating Individualized Teaching Strategies
Special education doesn’t entail traditional classroom experiences as each student has a unique emotional and cognitive intelligence level. It’s common for two students in the same class to have different learning needs and challenges, demanding one-on-one attention. Teachers design individualized educational plans (IEPs) after conducting detailed assessments on each student.
These learning plans enable teachers to map the needs and progress of their students and provide them with the resources they need. Teachers must find resources that align with the student’s learning capabilities and requirements to facilitate positive academic outcomes. The individualized instructional approach recognizes each learner’s unique talents and achievements to bring out the best in their abilities.
It’s difficult for untrained individuals to look beyond the learning disabilities and unique challenges of special children. But a trained and qualified special education teacher understands that brilliance and genius lurk behind those disabilities.
It’s the teacher’s responsibility to help children channel their talents and brilliance to overcome their learning disabilities. A teacher identifies these hidden talents and develops unique strategies to hone and harness them to empower her students. Individualized learning strategies is more than just learning, for it offers a roadmap for healthy physical, mental and spiritual development.
Collaborating with Caregivers & Professionals
Differently-abled children struggle to share their progress or provide feedback that would help the teacher assess learning outcomes. Children with special needs struggle with various concerns, such as social anxiety and communication issues, limiting their interaction ability. Therefore, teachers must collaborate with parents, caregivers, therapists, and psychologists to track progress and support development.
Collaboration is a powerful and vital facet of special education, and teachers must involve multiple stakeholders in the learning process. The partnership between teachers and parents is vital to track learners’ progress and support healthy development. Parents work closely with teachers to offer valuable insight into the learner’s challenges and responsiveness to the educational resources.
Teachers also collaborate with psychologists, therapists, school guidance counselors, and other professionals helping differently-abled children. These collaborations revolve around empowering the child with skills and talents to overcome disabilities. Parents, teachers, and mental health professionals ensure that learning disabilities don’t impede the learner’s path to success and brilliance. And together, they help the child rise above disabilities and disorders by digging out and harnessing the hidden talents.
Demonstrating Patience & Resilience
Patience is a vital skill for special education teachers to avoid rushing students towards unrealistic outcomes they cannot achieve. Impatience can aggravate the learner’s challenges by fueling social and emotional anxiety, turning the classroom into an unsafe space. Teachers must plan their strategies carefully and watch them unfold much more diligently.
It’s the teacher’s job to set expectations and outcomes that align with the learner’s capability to encourage progress and growth. It’s crucial to understand that patience is the most valuable skill to work with differently-abled children. Impatience prompts strategies that set the students up for failure, discouraging and disheartening them from the learning process.
You may have allocated an hour for each subject, but the students will take their sweet time to finish the coursework. You cannot rush them or pressure them into speeding up because children with special needs don’t respond well to stress. There are numerous instances where teachers feel they are losing patience or overwhelming themselves with chaos.
When that happens, it’s wise to step back and take a few moments to calm down and rewind. Once you’ve regained your composure, you can return to the classroom and demonstrate patience to encourage learners.
Teachers play a powerful role in a special child’s life because they possess resources to harness hidden talents. A teacher can recognize signs of visual thinking skills or mathematical genius while others fixate on the challenges and disabilities. Working with differently-abled students demands well-rounded skills and in-depth insight into the unique challenges of special learners.
A qualified and trained special education teacher looks beyond disabilities to find gifts that students can harness and develop. The goal is to empower each student and hone their talents to help steer them on a rewarding life trajectory.