Special education teachers use various techniques to promote learning. Depending on the disability, teaching methods can include individualized instruction, problem-solving assignments, and small-group work. When students need special accommodations in order to take a test, special education teachers see that appropriate ones are provided, such as having the questions read orally or lengthening the time allowed to take the test.
Special education teachers help to develop an Individualized Education Program (IEP) for each special education student. The IEP sets personalized goals for each student and is tailored to the student’s individual needs and ability. When appropriate, the program includes a transition plan outlining specific steps to prepare students with disabilities for middle school or high school or, in the case of older students, a job or post secondary study. Teachers review the Individualized Education Program with the student’s parents, school administrators, the student’s general education teacher, and any others who are an essential part of the student’s development. It is essential that the special education teacher listens to the group as a whole and the the IEP is truly a group collaborative agreement. Teachers work closely with parents to inform them of their child’s progress and suggest techniques to promote learning at home.
Special education teachers design and teach appropriate curriculum, assign work geared toward each student’s needs and abilities, and grade papers and homework assignments. They are involved in the students’ behavioral, social, and academic development. They help the students develop emotionally, feel comfortable in social situations, and develop awareness of socially acceptable behavior. Preparing special education students for daily life after graduation also is an important aspect of the job. Teachers provide students with career counseling or help them learn routine skills, such as balancing a checkbook.
There are many aspects to the jobs within special education, but the heart of the job is helping students reach their full potential. They can help children to succeed and help parents along the education journey.