When going into a field like special education, you know that it is going to be rewarding. Yet, you are also going to find that there are many challenges and obstacles.
As someone teaching children with special needs, you'll need to have patience, determination, and a certain kind of focus to give to the children you'll be teaching. You'll also find that each day, you will go home with a huge sense of accomplishment.
How can you prepare yourself for one of the most important roles in these children's lives?
Be sure to keep reading for our guide on the five vital things to know before teaching children with special needs.
1. You'll Need to Have Patience
When it comes to your role in the special needs education field, practicing patience is already out the window. You need to already possess the patience to be in this setting as every child you will be working with is different.
Working with special needs kids means that everyone is unique. Their needs are going to always change, and you're going to need patience and understanding to handle them.
For example, some students could be nonverbal but still request your attention to complete a task. They might even shift their focus onto another task before finish the first task.
Reacting negatively to any situation in your classroom could cause a huge mess between all your students. That's why you will always want to remain calm and exercise patience with any situations that arise.
2. You're Not Just a Teacher
Something you should know when taking on the role of a special needs teacher is that you're not only a teacher. In fact, you will take on many hats that help you advocate for your students' needs and well-being.
Many times you will be communicating with the parents of your students to let them know how their days went. The parents can even let you know how the home life is for your students. In turn, you will start building a relationship with the student's parents like you're building one with your students.
You might find yourself becoming a counselor to parents. Parents will sometimes rely on you for help with their children when they have a question since you're spending a lot of time with them, as well. You could even find yourself helping your students and their parents communicate with one another.
3. There's Lots of Paperwork
As someone going into the teaching field, you already know that you will be spending time grading papers, keeping track of scores, creating assignments, and even sending emails. Yet, as a special needs teacher, you will also be in charge of individualized education plans or IEPs.
An IEP is something that you will have to create for each child in your class. It is specialized to them and their needs.
IEPs are typically in place of standardized testing and will be presented to parents and the school board. It is a way for you to keep track of your student's progress and show their lesson plans and performance reviews.
That means you're going to be spending a lot of your free time doing additional paperwork. Many special education teachers found that this was one of the hardest parts of the job.
4. You'll Want to Make the Day Fun
One of the best parts about teaching special needs children is that you'll want to make the day fun for them and yourself. We've all sat through a boring class before and have counted down the minutes until it ended. As a special education teacher, you're in charge of teaching a lesson in a fun and exciting way!
You can try teaching vocational skills to your students by putting a unique spin on them. For example, you can teach them basic financial skills by using fake money and having them pay for food, bills, housing, and anything else they might need. You could even do mock interviews and teach them the types of clothes they should wear when interviewing.
There are so many different ways you can improve your lessons and make learning fun for the kids in your class. Make sure that you always have their best interest in mind and are looking for exciting things to teach them.
5. It Is Worth It
Some days are going to be more difficult than others, but at the end of each day, you will know that it is worth it.
Seeing the smile on your student's faces when they learn something new and improve over time is going to be the best feeling for you as a teacher. In fact, it is probably one of the reasons why you went to school for so many years and became a teacher in the first place.
You might even see that the rewards don't only come from your students but from their parents too. You will also form a tight bond with the parents of your students and watch as they grow with their children.
The parents can be as overwhelmed as you are too. That means when they see their children are doing well and learning new things, they're going to be filled with gratitude for you.
You'll see that as your role as a special needs teacher there are plenty of different moments that you will find rewarding and satisfying. As long as you have what it takes to get through the stressful times, you will be able to experience all the happy times too.
Teaching Children With Special Needs
As you can see, there are many vital things you need to know before you begin teaching children with special needs. You'll find that the role you're taking on is going to be filled with challenges, but at the end of the day, it will be one of the most rewarding things you've ever done.
If you're taking on a new teaching role soon and looking for something exciting to do with your students, we have you covered. Be sure to check out our task bins! They're awesome activities that can help teach your students tons of new and exciting things.