Career Story: Special Needs Teacher In A Public School

Special Needs Teacher In A Public School

Job Title: Special Education Teacher

Type of Company: I work for county public schools in a suburb of Washington, DC.

Education: MA, Special Education

Previous Experience: I have worked privately and in the public school system with children with autism and other developmental disabilities.

Job Tasks: I teach students with special needs, which requires me to work with their parents, the general education teacher and their therapists to come up with an individualized educational plan that's suited to each one. I am responsible both for customizing these plans (known as IEP's) and for writing them up, and for adhering, in the process, to county, state and federal regulations.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of my job -- the truly wonderful part -- is having an impact for good on the life of a child. I enjoy watching my charges learn new skills and make progress at their own speed, in their own way.

The most difficult part of my job is dealing with adults who've lost sight of the things that are in a student's best interest. But another impediment is the amount of paperwork I have to complete to meet federal and local requirements -- in addition to teaching, planning, attending team meetings, etc. This job takes good planning and time-management skills.

Job Tips:
1.) Understand that this job can be extremely rewarding but is also extremely challenging. Learn how to develop positive relationships with parents and co-workers.

2.) Be prepared to keep learning. The field of special education is constantly changing.

3) Be aware of current issues and trends in special education. There are many occasions when you will be expected to answer questions on hot-button issues in special ed. and you will have to be on top of them.

Additional Thoughts: This job is one of the most rewarding and fulfilling, but it also quite challenging. Be aware of the challenges but always remember why you have chosen a career in special education; to make a difference in the life of children with disabilities.

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