Special Education Teacher's Responsibilities

The nature of the responsibilities of special education teacher varies depending on the type of student with whom he or she is working. For students with severe cognitive disabilities, emotional disabilities, or physical disabilities, teachers with special education degrees focus on basic literacy and life skills. Special education teachers give students with mild to moderate disabilities required remedial tutoring as well as lessons adapted from a general education classroom. One key for special education teachers is to identify a child who qualifies for special education programs as soon as possible because early intervention is important for the successful education of the student.

Day to day, most special education teachers put together a curriculum that is geared toward the needs and abilities of each student, teach such lessons, and assign related work. Special education teachers have to be very familiar with both the characteristics of the students they are teaching as well as the nature of the content to be taught. Like general education teachers, special education teachers must grade their students' assignments and encourage their academic development. Many special education teachers also must spend much time helping develop their students' behavioral, social, and emotional skills. Learning how to effectively interact in social situations is important for many students with disabilities, as is preparing them for life after graduation through career counseling and the teaching of life skills.

Students identified as needing special education services in public schools nearly always must have an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) prepared for them each school year. An IEP is written by a special education teacher with input from the student's parents or guardians, a general education teacher, the student if possible, and other educational and medical professionals. The IEP includes information about the student's current educational performance levels and abilities, goals, and what services are needed for the student both within and outside of the classroom. For older students, the IEP also includes transitional information. For example, the IEP can outline the steps needed to prepare middle school students with disabilities for high school. For high school students in special education classrooms, the IEP can include a plan for preparing them for employment or continued education after they complete or leave high school.

Last Updated: 05/07/2014

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