Denise Keene has been a special education teacher for 15 years and likes to write articles about various edication-related topics. She also owns the site http://www.mastersinspecialeducation.org/. I am pleased to host her guest post today because my daughter, who has Down syndrome, was fortunate enough to have had a number of outstanding special education and "regular" classroom teachers. Take it away, Denise!
The Top Five Qualities of Special Education Teachers
As with any career, it is best to choose a job that will suit your personality and interests. Special education is a career that requires very specific qualities. Here are the top five:
1. Acceptance and understanding are the most important qualities a special education teacher can possess. You will be interacting with many different students who have many different types of disabilities and disorders. For this reason, you must be very open and accepting to their challenges and individual personalities. One student may be very quiet and yet very stubborn while another may be very loud and yet very diligent. There is a lot of unpredictability in a special education classroom, and a good teacher will learn to accept this and work around it.
2. A good temperament is a necessity when teaching special education. Children with disabilities need a mentor who is direct and firm yet calm and compassionate. It can be very difficult to stay calm when a student with special needs experiences an emotional or physical crisis. It can be even more difficult to stay calm when a student with a disability becomes outwardly defiant, but a good special education teacher knows you must remain kind and composed in order to show the child that you care and are there to help them.
3. Organization is imperative when teaching in a special education classroom. You will be using different teaching methods and tools for each disorder and disability. There may be times when each student will be working on different tasks and subjects; this goes back to the unpredictability of the classroom. A student with autism may refuse to work on a particular task which will require you to veer from your lesson plan and find another task to keep them busy. If you are well-organized and prepared, classroom interruptions like this won’t cause you to skip a beat.
4. The ability to learn and practice new teaching techniques is another key quality for a special education teacher. Research and technology is constantly producing new methods for learning. Staying on top of these new techniques will allow you to give your students the best education available.
5. Positivity is another trait that is needed. Children with special needs are always aware of their teacher’s mood and attitude. If a student feels that you are not positive about his or her ability to learn, their confidence will be affected, and they may be tempted to give up trying. A special education teacher must always remain confident and patient when teaching their students.
There are so many wonderful children out there who deserve special teachers. If you possess these traits, consider a career in special education and begin changing lives for the better today!
I echo Denise's words, and I urge you to consider special education as a career. There may be no more rewarding work than helping students with special needs learn.