Quality Special Education Teachers are becoming essential in schools as a child’s unique needs are being identified and addressed earlier in life.
Generally speaking, the field of Special Education describes an educational alternative that addresses a student’s individual learning differences and needs. Special Needs Educators focus on designing programs and teaching students whose academic, behavioural, health, or physical conditions cannot sufficiently be met using traditional educational programs or techniques. An Individualized Educational Program (IEP) is developed so that each student can achieve to the best of their ability.
Research studies find Special Education Teachers to be among the happiest in their career. Results for the University of Chicago study on Job Satisfaction in the United States found Special Education Teachers to be among the “Top Ten” reporting general satisfaction and happiness on the job. In his report, the Director of the General Social Survey (GSS) at the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago, Tom W. Smith, states, “Special education teachers are the third doubly top-ranked occupation 9th job satisfaction and 5th in general happiness”.
In 2007, this survey was considered one of the most comprehensive of its kind to explore satisfaction and happiness among American workers. “The most fulfilling occupations are primarily professions, particularly those that involve caring for, educating, and protecting others, as well as creative endeavours,” Smith said.
Whether teaching a class of special-education students, pulling small groups of students to work in a resource room environment or working with small groups or individual students generally. Education classroom, it is a Special Educator’s responsibility to ensure these students learn despite their disabilities. The Special Educator may also need to assist and advise general education teachers in adapting lessons for students with individualizing special needs. Additionally, teachers of students with Special Needs need to work with parents by providing suggested ways to help their child at home. Some tasks include but are not restricted to teaching the following:
- Students with Learning Differences
- Students who are Deaf or Visually Impaired
- Students with Physical Impairments
- Students who fall within the Autism or Aspergers spectrum
- Students with Intellectual Impairments
- Students with Mild to Severe Emotional Needs
“The need for special education teachers is greater than most other types of teachers,” Segun Eubanks, the National Education Association’s Director of teacher quality, states (NEA). Opportunities abound for anyone in the field and anyone looking to enter the area. According to the Labor Department of Special Education Teachers, the hiring of Special Educators should increase by 17 per cent, creating 82,000 jobs between 2008 and 2018. Keep in mind that many more openings will result from turnover, retirement and growth of the school-age population.
Presently, the median annual salary for special-ed teachers in preschool through elementary grade levels school was about $50,000, at the middle-school level about $51,000, and at the secondary level about $52,000.