The IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) has defined the field of Special Education as “Specially designed instruction, at no cost to parents, to meet the unique needs of a child with a disability.” Parents and their special needs children are provided with additional services, customized environments, programs, specialized placements, and support. Parents are not charged a fee for these Special Education needs which are designed to address children with special learning requirements.
The broad range of Special Education support and learning tools varies considerably, based on educational jurisdictions and level or severity of need. Each one of these educational jurisdictions, whether it is county or state, will have different legislation, policies, regulations, and rules governing exactly what Special Education is comprised of. In the US, the IDEA (see above) is the current governing law.
How to become a Special Education teacher
If you have been considering becoming a Special Education teacher, be aware of the fact that it is not easy by any means. There are certain requirements that you have to meet and steps that you have to take. The following will give you a reasonably decent idea:
Get qualified – you’re going to need a Teaching Certificate from the state you are planning to teach in and be classified as a Highly Qualified instructor in the subjects you plan on teaching. Your state’s Department of Education will have the requirements you need.
Locate an accredited college or university with a Special Education curriculum – you will find that private and public institutions offer this and prepare you for a career in the teaching field.
Take as many elective mathematics and reading course as possible – it is quite common to find Special Education students integrated into English and Mathematics classes. Taking numerous elective courses in these areas will give you a better idea of these student’s special needs.
Always search for alternative options – be sure to check all the options available if your degree does not make you Highly Qualified in the field. Normally, every state in the country offers two or three options for becoming HQ. Provided your home state considers it as acceptable, the Praxis II Exam is your best and most direct option for becoming HQ.
Additional tips to consider
Most importantly, you will want to further your education whenever you have the opportunity to do so. Your willingness to learn more about the subjects you teach will lead to you becoming an excellent teacher down the road. Remember that your respect as a Special Education teacher is earned. Granted, as a teacher, you have the ability to apply leverage with your position but until the student respects you as a teacher, good teaching is not going to take place.
One more point to make here is that no matter what you do or how you teach, there will always be a parent and or student, as well as a staff member who is not going to like you. The best advice we can give you – learn to live with it.