What Does A Special Education Teacher Do?
It takes a very dedicated and caring individual to provide the education demanded by special needs students. This is why not all teachers can become special education teachers or SPED teachers. It is not easy to adapt subjects like math, reading and science to students with various kinds of disabilities but that is exactly what special education teachers do.
Extremely patient, SPED teachers work with those that have learning, psychological, behavioral and physical disabilities. Their educational training allows them to develop teaching strategies that would cater to the learning needs of students who would not be able to benefit from the education given in a regular classroom.
Special education teachers are trained to evaluate the skills of these students to find out what their needs are. This assessment is important as it enables them to come up with teaching plans or what are formally known as Individualized Education Programs (IEP) for every student. These techniques aim to develop the sensory-and-perceptual motor, cognition, language and memory skills of special needs students. Depending on the abilities of each student, SPED teachers also plan and implement activities geared towards teaching students behavior that is deemed acceptable by social standards. They upgrade the student’s IEP depending on their progress.
Special education teachers work with other professionals like occupational therapists, speech language pathologists, physical therapists and others in implementing each student’s IEP. They may carry out their teaching in a one-on-one or in small group classes. They also record the student’s progress and keep the student’s parents informed about it.
Teacher assistants help special education teachers carry out the lessons for the day. It is the job of SPED teachers to train them and give them the tasks that each student is expected to complete. They also supervise these teacher assistants as they handle the students under their care. Special education teachers can expect to cater to the needs of different kinds of students throughout the day which requires great flexibility. They may have to teach one student to read, another to write or another student to finish a particular activity.
One of the things that SPED teachers must deal with during a typical day on the job is that of a student throwing tantrums or displaying aggressive behavior. During these times, the student may need to be physically restrained and brought to another area in the school where instruction can be continued. They know how to employ crisis intervention strategies for these situations. Each episode is also recorded by the SPED teacher in the student’s file.
SPED teachers may also work with students in an inclusive classroom where students with special needs are mixed with general education students. When assigned to handle these classes, they must see to it that the strategies they use will also be effective for those with disabilities. Ultimately, the aim of SPED teachers is to help students develop the skills that will help them live independently.
SPED teachers are typically asked to handle students from the preschool level all the way to high school. They may continue to teach those with very severe disabilities until they turn 21 years old. All throughout the time they spend with their students, special education teachers must come up with clear objectives about every activity or lesson and make sure that students know about it. They must also comply with all the paper work such as the documentation on the activities and progress of each child as required by federal laws, school district policies and school regulations.
Just like other teachers in traditional classrooms, special education teachers also need to check the papers of each student and keep track of their behavior and academic performance. They also meet with fellow teachers and professionals to talk about the progress of each student.
New studies and research are constantly getting uncovered in the world of special education. It is the job of SPED teachers to make sure that they are updated on these trends so that they can become better and more effective in handling their students in the classroom. They can accomplish this by joining in staff development meetings, professional seminars and curriculum development activities. They also need to be comfortable with using technological aids that will help students with special needs learn the lesson more effectively and aid in the communication between the student and teacher.