How to Be Special Education Teacher - Job Description, Skills, and Interview Questions

Special Education Teachers play an important role in providing quality education to students with special needs. They work hard to identify and assess the needs of their students, and design specialized instruction strategies to meet their individual learning needs. As a result, these students are able to progress academically and socially, and develop their self-esteem.

Furthermore, when appropriate accommodations and modifications are made, special education teachers can help their students build the skills necessary to become successful and independent adults. The positive impact of these teachers is seen by the increased graduation rates, improved academic performance, and improved self-confidence of the students they work with. Special Education Teachers often work in collaboration with related professionals such as psychologists, speech-language pathologists, occupational therapists, and social workers to provide comprehensive services to their students.

Steps How to Become

  1. Obtain a Bachelor's Degree. The first step to becoming a special education teacher is to obtain a bachelor's degree in special education, which typically requires 4 years of study. This degree should include coursework in specific disabilities, such as autism and learning disabilities, as well as general education courses.
  2. Get Licensed. Each state has its own licensing requirements for special education teachers, so it is important to check with the state board of education to determine the specific requirements.
  3. Earn a Master's Degree. Many states require special education teachers to earn a master's degree in special education or a related field before they can become certified.
  4. Get Certified. After completing a bachelor's degree and a master's degree (if required), the next step is to get certified. Certification is usually granted by the state board of education and can require passing an exam and/or completing additional coursework.
  5. Complete On-the-Job Training. Once certified, special education teachers must complete on-the-job training in a supervised setting. This can involve working with experienced special education teachers and observing their methods and techniques.
  6. Maintain Certification. Special education teachers must maintain their certification by completing continuing education courses and attending professional development seminars.
The lack of skilled and competent Special Education teachers is causing an increase in the number of students not receiving the quality education they deserve. This lack of proper instruction is leading to an increase in the number of students dropping out of school, as well as a decrease in academic achievement and social-emotional development. Furthermore, this declining level of educational resources can lead to a decrease in the number of students entering higher education, as well as a decrease in the number of students pursuing careers in the field of special education. As a result, the long-term impact of the shortage of skilled and competent Special Education teachers can be seen in the form of an increased dropout rate and an inability for students to reach their full potential.

You may want to check Adaptive Physical Education Teacher, Agriculture Teacher, and Art Teacher for alternative.

Job Description

  1. Develop and implement Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) for students with special needs.
  2. Identify and assess student strengths and weaknesses, learning styles, and behavior issues.
  3. Monitor student progress in academic, social, and behavioral areas.
  4. Develop behavior management plans to address student misbehavior.
  5. Collaborate with other teachers, administrators, and parents to ensure the best education possible for each student.
  6. Participate in meetings with parents, administrators, and other staff members to discuss students’ progress and goals.
  7. Provide feedback to parents on their child’s progress.
  8. Design and implement instructional activities that meet the individual needs of special education students.
  9. Adapt standard lesson plans to meet individual needs of special education students.
  10. Facilitate inclusion of special education students in mainstream classes and activities.

Skills and Competencies to Have

  1. Knowledge of special education laws and regulations
  2. Ability to create individualized education plans (IEPs)
  3. Knowledge of instructional strategies and techniques for students with disabilities
  4. Ability to provide positive behavior management strategies
  5. Ability to collaborate with parents, teachers, administrators, and other professionals
  6. Understanding of the unique learning needs of students with disabilities
  7. Knowledge of assessment tools and strategies
  8. Skill in using technology to support instruction
  9. Ability to implement evidence-based practices
  10. Ability to provide differentiated instruction
  11. Ability to create a supportive learning environment
  12. Knowledge of sensory integration strategies
  13. Knowledge of a variety of communication strategies
  14. Skill in data collection and analysis
  15. Ability to develop and implement transition plans

Being a successful special education teacher requires a variety of specialized skills. Perhaps the most important skill to have is the ability to develop strong relationships with students and their families. This allows teachers to better understand a student's individual needs and preferences, as well as to provide support for the student through difficult times.

it is important for special education teachers to be able to develop effective teaching strategies that are tailored to each student's needs. This requires an understanding of how different learning styles and disabilities impact students, as well as knowledge of the appropriate strategies and resources available. In addition, strong organizational skills are necessary in order to effectively plan lessons, track student progress, and maintain records.

Finally, it is important for special education teachers to be able to advocate for their students in order to ensure that they are receiving the services and resources they need. With all these skills, special education teachers can make a real difference in the lives of their students.

Teacher, Business Education Teacher, and Foreign Language Teacher are related jobs you may like.

Frequent Interview Questions

  • What inspired you to pursue a career in special education?
  • What strategies have you used to help students with special needs reach their full potential?
  • How do you establish and maintain a positive rapport with students and parents?
  • Describe the most challenging case you have encountered in your career as a special education teacher and how you overcame it.
  • How do you use technology in the classroom to enhance learning for special needs students?
  • What measures do you take to ensure an inclusive learning environment for all students?
  • How do you collaborate with other staff, such as counselors and administrators, to ensure that the needs of special education students are met?
  • In what ways do you modify the curriculum to meet the individual needs of the students?
  • What strategies do you use to manage difficult or challenging behavior in the classroom?
  • Describe your experience working with students who have physical and/or emotional disabilities.

Common Tools in Industry

  1. Classroom Management System. A computer-based system that helps teachers manage student behavior and learning progress. (Eg: ClassDojo)
  2. Educational Software. Pre-designed programs that can help teach students a variety of subjects. (Eg: Math Blaster)
  3. Adaptive Learning Platforms. Online programs that provide personalized instruction for students of different academic levels. (Eg: Dreambox Learning)
  4. Special Education Apps. Applications specifically designed for students with special needs. (Eg: Proloquo2Go)
  5. Augmented Reality Technology. Technology that integrates virtual objects into a real-world environment. (Eg: Google Expeditions)
  6. Video-Conferencing Software. Software that allows teachers and students to communicate remotely. (Eg: Zoom)
  7. Educational Games. Online games designed to teach specific skills or topics in an engaging way. (Eg: DragonBox Algebra 5+)
  8. Assistive Technology. Technology designed to help people with physical, sensory, or cognitive disabilities. (Eg: IntelliTools Classroom Suite)

Professional Organizations to Know

  1. Council for Exceptional Children (CEC)
  2. Association of American Educators (AAE)
  3. National Association of Special Education Teachers (NASET)
  4. National Association of State Directors of Special Education (NASDSE)
  5. National Education Association (NEA)
  6. International Council for Exceptional Children (ICEC)
  7. Council for Learning Disabilities (CLD)
  8. National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC)
  9. Autism Society of America (ASA)
  10. National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS)

We also have Dance Teacher, English Teacher, and Middle School Teacher jobs reports.

Common Important Terms

  1. IEP. Individualized Education Plan. A document that outlines the special education services that a student will receive to meet their individual needs.
  2. LRE. Least Restrictive Environment. A concept that students should receive instruction in the least restrictive environment appropriate for their individual level of functioning.
  3. FAPE. Free Appropriate Public Education. An educational service mandated by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) that all students with disabilities are entitled to receive.
  4. Inclusion. The practice of educating students with disabilities in the general education classroom alongside their non-disabled peers.
  5. Accommodations. Adjustments made to the curriculum, assessment, or instruction of a student with a disability to ensure equal access and opportunity to learn.
  6. Modifications. Changes to the curriculum, assessment, or instruction of a student with a disability to help them better understand and access the material.

Frequently Asked Questions

What qualifications are needed to become a Special Education Teacher?

To become a special education teacher, a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in special education or a related field is required. Additionally, many states require teachers to have a teaching license and certifications in special education.

What is the average salary for a Special Education Teacher?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for special education teachers was $61,030 in 2019.

What type of teaching environment is typically found in Special Education classrooms?

Special education classrooms often prioritize small classroom sizes and individualized instruction to best meet the needs of students with disabilities.

What skills are important for Special Education Teachers?

Special education teachers should have strong communication and interpersonal skills, as well as the ability to think critically and problem-solve. Additionally, they must be familiar with any associated laws and regulations related to special education.

What is the job outlook for Special Education Teachers?

The job outlook for special education teachers is positive, with employment expected to grow by 3% from 2019 to 2029, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Web Resources

Author Photo
Reviewed & Published by Albert
Submitted by our contributor
Teacher Category