How To Become A Special Education Teacher?

Last Updated on October 6, 2023 by Editorial Team

They said some people see the difficulties, but a special education teacher sees the possibilities. This is the zeal that makes an individual want to become a special educator. However, only zeal, passion, and motivation are not enough. 

To become a special educator, one needs to have the degrees, proper qualifications and so much more to work with students who have special emotional, physical, learning, or mental needs.

Hence, in this post, we will dig deeper and try to understand what it takes to become a special educator. We will also gain an insight into how to become one, and what are the requirements. 

Special education teacher- How are they special?

A Special Education Teacher provides education to special students and has an attitude to enhance and help the students grow and develop in a better way.

Such teachers deserve huge respect from society.  They work in an environment requiring more effort, hard work, patience, and compassion. Such commitment and attitude to make a change are what make them special and unique in society. 

How are they different from other teachers?  

Special Education Teachers are different from ordinary teachers as they focus on tackling challenging situations and helping the special students grow to their full potential. These teachers require special qualifications with highly-positive training experiences. 

The entire development of a student is often observed and documented by special education teachers. While providing individual attention to the students, instructions are individualized for the children to focus on aspects based on the nature of the student.

How to become a special education teacher: Steps & Requirements

Special education teachers work with students identified with special needs. In order to be a special educator, one must fulfill a set of requirements for the certification by the respective education boards. 

The following are the requisites for the same. 

STEP 1:  Completing Bachelors in Education

A career in special education is most suited for those who have an incredible passion for teaching as well as a love and concern for children with special needs. Such children require special training and instructions from well-trained professionals in the field of special education. 

Here is a comprehensive list of Graduation programs that can help in this process. 

1. Early Childhood Special Education and Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education (Licensure)

This degree helps to understand the basic aspects of Science which deal with early childhood education and how it has to be provided to children. This program involves the study of sociology, psychology, and history associated with child development

Program Link

2. Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education and Special Education (Licensure) 

Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education and Special Education degree gives an idea about elementary education. The degree teaches various aspects of special education given to elementary-level students. It also focuses on the teaching method and manner as per the nature of the student.

Program Link

3. Bachelors in Special Education

The B.A. in Special Education is a program designed to prepare students to become highly proficient in the delivery of instruction and services to all school-age children and adolescents who have special needs. It is a full-time program with a duration of 4years. 

Program Link

4. BS in Special Education

This is a four-year program where the student majors in the department of Elementary and special education. The interventionist and comprehensive program lead to licensure. This program focuses on the basics of dealing with students who have special needs. This course can be done straight after school. However, a few institutions might need you to top it up with a master’s degree to finally get working as a special educator. 

Program Link

5. BA (Hons) in Special Education Needs and Disability

This course equips the learner with an in-depth knowledge of the theories, factors, and contexts for special educational needs and disabilities.  One can also add to their degree and top it up to a full BA (Hons). The duration of the course ranges from 3-6 years. Both full-time and part-time courses are available. 

Program Link

STEP 2: Degree in Special Education Training/ Teaching

Various degrees are available to become a special education teacher, wherein a Bachelor’s degree and Masters’s degree in different subjects will help in the same along with specific courses dealing with special education. 

In the case of providing education to special students with Number Dyslexia, a degree in Mathematics is helpful as teachers can better help the students learn easily. It is an additional benefit to acquire a strong base in any subjects like Psychology or Chemistry.

1. Early Childhood Special Education and Master of Education in Early Childhood Education (Licensure)

A Master’s in Early Childhood Education and a bachelor’s degree gives a better understanding of the subjects. It also provides insight into teaching methodologies curated for students with special needs. 

Program Link

2. Master of Education in Elementary Education and Special Education 

Master of Education in Elementary Education and Special Education is a degree focused on kids with special needs up to 8 years old. This degree helps teachers make a significant difference in the formative years of child development. Professional practice and research courses are major parts of this Master’s degree. 

Program Link

3. Master of Education in Cross-Categorical Special Education 

A Master’s in Cross Categorical degree makes teachers capable of helping students with different levels. It is a unique degree with significant importance in the K-12 education framework. The degree also includes special education programs favored by district managers. It highlights central concepts, discipline structures, instructional strategies, and meaningful learning experiences.

Program Link

STEP 3: Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations for Special Education Teachers

Most special education trainers and teachers are required to have a state-issued certification or license to join a school as a special educator. The goal of licensure is to make sure that all students have a competent educator. Since it is an important element to assure quality in the teaching workforce it is a prerequisite for applying for placements in schools. The license also paves the way for higher salaries and more competitive positions. 

To obtain a license, one first needs to have the set of qualifications that the government body demands. Since the individual is already through with their bachelor’s and master’s, applying for a license is not a tough nut to crack. Since each city has its own education board, one can directly contact the education department and get to know the procedure to obtain the license. 

STEP 4: Training

After the academic qualifications for being a special education teacher have been attained, there is a period of training to be completed which equips one with practical knowledge of the training and the needs of children requiring special care. Before one gets on to the job of a special education trainer, getting hands-on experience is crucial as they make the individual ready for all the obstacles related to the job. 

The same goes for a job of a special educator. Once the teacher receives formal training, they become ready for the job as they have a glimpse of what they are going to face in a classroom of special kids. 

Step 5: Begin applying to open special education positions.

Once all the above have been completed, it is now time to apply for a position and get going. One can search various job portals or special school websites to know about the job posting and vacancies. 

Things to take care of while applying for special education teacher 

While some might follow the path to this career out of passion, it is important for them to know that like any other profession, a teacher who wishes to teach special kids must be equipped with a certain understanding and should take care of a few things. Some of which are:

  • Teachers must have a deep understanding of managing and educating students that need special attention and guidance.
  • Teachers must deeply understand managing students with special needs in all areas of life.
  • Kindness is an important key to explaining concepts to these students.
  • Special education teachers must be able to adapt to different teaching methodologies to make it easier for students.
  • It is crucial to observe students’ behavior, reactions, and emotional responses to plan their curriculum better.
  • Teachers must be keen to carry out many social and mental development activities.
  • Teachers need to provide individual attention and care for the betterment of students.
  • Students must be felt respected, valued, and an important part of society by treating them as a part of the community.
  • Teachers for special kids should be patient and deal with situations calmly.
  • Stress is a part of teaching special kids and should be tackled in a positive framework.
  • It is necessary to ensure that learning methodologies are specially curated for specific students considering their growth and development patterns.
  • It is important to be aware of their nature and provide valuable education as per the student’s mental and emotional requirements.
  • Special education has to be provided with love and affection, and it should not be considered a responsibility towards the students.
  • Salaries of special education teachers differ from state to state and country to country. Hence, one must check the average salary before commencing a profession like such. 

Concluding thoughts

Special students require special care and attention to help them grow and develop with the help of teachers who can guide them and teach valuable lessons for the overall development of the students. Such special schools and special education give them recognition and make them part of the society where they can learn and grow together as a community.

The Special Education Teachers play an integral role in the development of the students where they are given proper care and attention. They must be provided with the required education based on their needs and requirements for better growth and development.

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