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Career and Job Search Guide
  

Special Education Teacher

Special education teachers work with disabled students. Students can be afflicted with mental retardation, autism, and learning disabilities. Special education teachers usually work with students with mild disabilities, altering curriculum to match the student's needs. Special education teachers usually work in elementary, middle, and high schools.

Students with learning disabilities, autism, mental retardation, speaking impediments, physical disabilities, and emotional problems can qualify for special education instruction and services. Teachers usually work with specific groups. Identifying students with disabilities is an essential duty of special education teachers.

Special education teachers work with students individually, assign problem solving projects, and organize small group projects. When students need special test taking accommodations, special education teachers coordinate these accommodations.

Special education teachers design an Individualized Education Program (IEP) for all special needs students. The IEP includes a student's goals, and it is designed to cater to the student's needs. The IEP may include a plan to help students make the transition to middle or high school. Special education teachers review a completed IEP with parents, teachers, and administrators. They also keep parents up to date about their child's progress.

Special education teachers prepare lessons, assign students with projects tailored to their needs, and grade papers. They also help students develop social skills and teach them strategies to deal with emotional problems. Special education teachers also provide career counseling.

Special education and other teachers are working together in general education classrooms. Special education teachers collaborate with other teachers to develop curriculum and assist special needs students. Special education teachers spend a lot of their time speaking with teachers, therapists, social workers, parents, etc., to make sure students' needs are being met.

Some special education teachers have their own classrooms while many team teach with general education teachers. Certain special education teachers work in resource rooms where students can come for help. It is rare for special education teachers to tutor students at their homes or work in a residential facility.

Some special education teachers work with infants with developmental disabilities. They teach parents how to help their special needs children. These special education teachers help children develop their social, cognitive, motor, and language skills at preschools.

Special education teachers are now relying more on technology to help disabled children. They use audiotapes, educational software, and synthesized speech technology.

Work environment. Special education teachers have very difficult jobs, but it can be very rewarding working with disabled children. The job is also very stressful since special education teachers with heavy workloads, must write numerous reports, and work with difficult parents who sometimes threaten schools with lawsuits. Recently passed legislation provides schools and special education teachers more protection against lawsuits. Because of the stresses of the job, many special education teachers change their careers.

Some special education teachers work year round, but the majority work throughout the school year with the summer off.
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