Job Title: Teacher
Type of Company: A public elementary school.
Education: Cambridge, Lincoln University, George Mason University
Previous Experience: I worked as a substitute teacher.
Job Tasks: As a special education teacher (SPED) I am responsible for assessing and instructing SPED students in grades 1-3. I teach students who are included in general education classes and also students who are educated in a self-contained setting in a special education room. I have to adapt curriculum, adding visuals that will enable my students to better understand the material I present. I also work with students with behavioral difficulties. Getting behaviors under control enables children to focus better on learning.
Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of being a SPED teacher is working with children with disabilities and seeing them grow. Being able to see students exceed people's expectations is definitely a great reward. The worst parts are the poor pay, lack of pay raises, parents that don't care and won't help with children's reading or homework at home, taking work home and the never-ending piles of uncompleted work.
Job Tips: If you love working with children then it's a great job. If you are in it for the money this is a very bad idea. However, there is an excellent benefit package which includes retirement. This is also the one job where you get two months off in the summer, a spring vacation and a nice winter vacation.
Additional Thoughts: What surprises me most is the paperwork involved in being a special education teacher. There are legal pages associated with the Individual Education Plan for students with disabilities and also with the screening of students and re-evaluation procedures.
It also amazes me to see how little respect special education teachers receive. They are often the butt of frustration from other teachers and also from parents of students with behavioral difficulties.
Special education teachers need to be hard-working, flexible, patient, honest, firm, structured and able to break down tasks for students. They also need to be able to reward good behavior and discourage bad, provide students with the feeling of safety and security, and the ability to forge the way where others have failed.
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