A lot of career shifters are looking into the special education profession. Here are some tips on what you can do before you plunge into the special education career.
Are You Ready To...?
- Develop and follow an individual learning plan for each student
- Help identify students who would benefit from special education
- Keep in close contact with parents
- Attend meetings
It Helps to Be...
Patient, tolerant, and flexible. Each of your students will face different challenges. You'll want to help all of them grow and develop -- while making it clear that you accept them just as they are.
Did You Know?
A big part of a special education teacher's job is managing the learning plan designed for each student, called an Individualized Education Plan (IEP).
Volunteer or work in an educational setting. Whether you work with day care or school-age children, it is wise to decide whether you like working with children before you commit yourself to a degree in education.
Spend time in a special education facility. Public schools, as well as private institutions, will gladly accept volunteers to work with any range of special needs students. In some cases you may be able to apply for a full-time or part-time teacher's aid position.
Decide which disability area you enjoy working with. Students range in disability from mainly academic deficiencies to severe physical and mental disabilities. Choose a disability group that you feel comfortable teaching and working with.
Research four-year colleges in your area. Make sure the college you commit to is accredited and will provide you with a degree you can use to apply for a special education position in any state.
Work closely with your college supervisor or counselor. Make sure you are following the sequenced schedule of courses your college has lined up for the special education program you have chosen. Deviating from the schedule may result in having to wait one to two semesters to take a course, causing you to fall behind on your anticipated graduation date.
- I suggest that you read books like "The Special Educator's Survival Guide", it helps to learn from the experienced and the experts
- Volunteer and teach in as many areas and institutions as you can to create a serious and professional resume. It will prove invaluable when you are ready to accept a formal teaching position.
- Research scholarships and grants to help with the cost of schooling.
- Look for bookstores that carry used college books to cut down on expenses.
- Work with many types of students to decide if education is the right profession for you.
Find out here: What makes a special education teacher?