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What to Consider When Looking at Special Education Teacher Jobs

By The Room 241 Team February 8, 2013

Special education teacher jobs provide exciting opportunities to engage children who are often pushed aside or not cared for properly in meaningful learning situations. However, finding the right position can make a huge difference in the success and the reward you get from this career choice. Though most teachers will have degrees that afford them the opportunity to engage children on a variety of levels, some positions may be a better fit than others. Keep these points in mind when looking for special education teacher jobs.

Determine the area of focus

One of the first steps is to learn the vast number of areas where you can participate. Take a look at some of the most sought-after specific fields in this industry.

  • Autism spectrum disorders: Working with autism spectrum disorders is challenging, but rewarding work. Finding the right way to communicate with children here is often the focus.
  • Emotional and behavioral disorders: Teachers who work with these complex issues may need to focus more deeply on the psychological aspects of child development.
  • High-incidence disabilities: These common learning, speech and language disabilities/disorders require  highly trained, dedicated teachers.
  • Low-incidence disabilities:  Children with these comparatively rare disabilities (like blindness, deafness or multiple severe disabilities) depend on teachers to help them develop communication skills and work on their basic literacy needs and functional skills.

Teachers in these fields are all in demand. However, most teachers will benefit from specialized education in a well-defined field.

Teacher concerns to consider

Though choosing a career in a special education field is paramount to enabling children and providing a fantastic service, it goes much further. Teachers also must learn to better understand their own needs and abilities. Answering these questions can help special education teachers narrow their search for the best possible teaching job:

What are the physical demands?

Some special-needs teachers must help lift children and attend to their many complex needs. Can you meet the physical demands of these teaching positions?

What are the emotional demands?

While teaching basic literacy and functional skills can be rewarding, some careers involving students with severe behavioral issues can be heartbreaking. Teachers must consider their own emotional boundaries.

What is the work environment like?

Teachers must take the time to explore whether the job leaves room for having their own lives outside the classroom. Some special education teachers work very long hours and may have little time for outside interests. It is important for teachers to know the expectations of the job.

What education is required?

For some positions, especially those with children with autism or high learning complications, teachers must have advanced education. Graduate-level education is often an important step for special education teachers.

What are the benefits?

A teacher’s desire to help children in need should not overrule considerations of compensation and benefits. Will the position provide for your financial needs, or will it leave you struggling day to day?

All of these factors play a role in your decision. Though special education teacher jobs are often readily available, especially for those teachers with advanced skills and training, there is more to choosing a job than having a desire to help special-needs children. It is also important for teachers to consider your abilities and needs as well.

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