Special Education Teacher
A special education teacher’s job is to assess and work with children and youth with different types of disabilities. A section of such students may have mental disabilities like mental retardation, autism or Down syndrome.
A special education teacher’s basic work is to teach such children life skills and basic literacy skills. Most of the special needs children the special education teacher works with usually have moderate or mild disabilities. The special education teacher will often modify the child’s education curriculum and prepare an individualized plan to meet the disabled student’s particular needs. Most of the students with whom special education teachers work are from elementary or secondary school levels, but some of the teachers prefer to work with infants or toddlers.
There are also other types of disabilities because of which children need to be in a special education program. These are speech or language difficulties, visual or hearing impairments, emotional disturbance, orthopedic impairments or special learning difficulties. It is the job of a special education teacher to identify a child who has disabilities and intervene early, so that the child receives the necessary education at the right time.
The special education teacher draws up an individualized program, or IEP, for students availing of special education. The IEP is tailored to cater to the personal goals of the student, and his/her learning style and ability.
The special education teacher also prepares a transition plan to take the children successfully through school or postsecondary level. They work closely with the child’s parents and other teachers and discuss the progress the child makes.
Activities of special education teacher
The most important activities of a special education teacher include:
# Reviewing the file of a new student and doing research on their unique needs and abilities.
# Determining the students’ challenges and strengths by assessing their academic, behavior and social records.
# Writing the students’ individual education plans, or IEPs, to guide the students’ education drawn up on achievable goals.
# He/she coordinates the functions of the support staff such as language and speech, physical or occupational therapists, professionals and counselors who support the students’ learning.
# The special education teacher meets the student’s parents over the IEP to review their progress and any problems.
# He/she also makes referrals to any available resources that may be of help to the child and his/her family.
# He/she has to grade and advance the students according to their learning needs and disabilities in a suitable manner.
# The special education teacher also helps the children to use tools such as wheelchairs, speech boards, hearing aids, computers and other gadgets.
Role of special education teacher
Special education teachers are also to be considered role models for their students. Especially, children who come from disturbed families need the company of adults who they can talk to and trust. Special education teachers undergo courses in child development which help them to guide these children in the right direction. A special education teacher also has to know how to get people like guidance counselors to help a child if there is a problem beyond their level of expertise.
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