Do you want to help children with special needs? Become a special education teacher!
Depending on the college, students can earn a bachelor’s degree in special education or a bachelor’s degree in teaching with a concentration in special ed. However, many K-12 schools require candidates to hold a master’s degree. So if you’re serious about serving special needs students, you should consider enrolling in an online program that offers a Master of Arts in Teaching Special Education.
As a special education major, you’ll be trained to teach students with diverse learning needs and disabilities from mild to moderate. Special ed teachers work in a variety of school settings, either alongside general education teachers to assist students in the classroom, or as full-time special ed classroom teachers. Other career paths include working as a special ed diagnostician, special ed instructional coordinator, or special ed camp counselor.
Before enrolling in a special ed degree program, prospective students should be aware of the issues and challenges that special ed teachers have to face. But first we will explain what exactly is meant by special education.
Careers in Special Ed
This field of teaching focuses on children with developmental disabilities or disorders. Special ed programs are designed to specifically cater to those students who are mentally, socially, or physically delayed. The “delay” refers to a lag in their cognitive development so that their learning, thinking, reading, and remembering skills get compromised. The traditional school curriculum can’t accommodate the needs of these students, placing them behind their peers. As a special education teacher, you can help these special students to succeed.
The approach of special education programs should not be of a “one size fits all” attitude and instead should be tailored to meet the requirements of each student individually. Some children will need constant support and supervision; others not so much. By incorporating unique teaching methodologies and custom-made courses, these special ed programs ensure that the education of differently-abled students doesn’t get neglected due to circumstances out of their control.
Issues in Special Ed
In recent years, much progress has been made in the special education field, but there are still some underlying issues. Here’s a look at the top five concerns.
- Limited Support From Stakeholders
The stakeholders in special education are parents, teachers, counselors, administrators, doctors, and any other persons involved in a child’s care or education. When designing an individualized education plan (IEP), all stakeholders participate in the meeting to exchange information and share ideas on how to best achieve an improved outcome. Special education is a journey that may require long hours, continuous monitoring, and frequent updates. However, the most constructive course of action can easily become murky and tough to follow, especially if the special ed teacher has limited support from other stakeholders.
- Scarcity Of Special Education Teachers
The shortage of specialized teachers has persisted for several years now. Therefore, the number of fully credentialed teachers is alarmingly low compared to the number of students requiring special care. Many teachers employed in special education schools either do not possess proper training or haven’t completed their education programs.
- Lack Of Resources
Proper school resources enhance the learners’ knowledge by helping them better understand and grasp the concept of what is being taught. Since special education requires an unconventional curriculum, it needs extra resources such as specialized equipment for activities, custom-designed worksheets, and relevant textbooks. To provide a more accommodating environment for learning, setting up classrooms in a way that’s open and welcoming is also necessary. Additional resources like program support, behavior management techniques, and IEPs are needed for proper schooling.
Special education doesn’t restrict students to a classroom setting but also encourages physical and extracurricular activities. This promotes the social and mental development of children and helps them forge friendships among their peers. Sheltering Tree Ranch, for example, is a non-profit learning challenge development center that offers a variety of outside enrichment programs for special needs children.
Unfortunately, due to financial constraints, some special ed students have only limited access to the specialized resources they require. Because of this, their learning gets hindered, and they’re often left to their own devices.
An increasing number of students with learning disabilities who seek special education come from a low socioeconomic background. These children don’t just have to cope with everyday challenges inside the classroom. They’re also forced to deal with them when they’re outside in their communities, at home, and even playgrounds. Lack of proper sleep, diet, and peace can all negatively affect a student’s education. It becomes difficult to focus on learning your ABCs without a consistent routine or when you’re hungry and worried about where your next meal will come from. This inevitably impacts how they perform in a class setting and can impede their participation during lessons.
- Infrastructure Not Inclusive
Providing a safe, comfortable, and controlled learning environment for children with special needs is important so that they too can have access to education like other students. Special education programs should meet appropriate infrastructure requirements, such as comfortable classrooms, wheelchair access, obstacle-free spaces, and safety considerations. Often, classrooms are designed with a traditional setting that isn’t all-inclusive for children with disabilities. This obstruction prevents students from getting easy access to resources that can help them learn better.
For the integration of special ed programs, there’s room for many improvements ranging from teachers’ credentials to the classroom environment. These necessities must be taken care of so that, for those with special needs, the right to have an education doesn’t get overlooked. Whether it’s in the form of conducting awareness sessions, petitioning government officials, or enhancing your knowledge of special education, as a special education teacher you can help promote the interests of kids with special needs.