Special Education Teacher

For centuries, the “traditional” classroom environment has been an amazing laboratory for testing out new methods of teaching on generations of students. That said, this environment has its limitations. Not every student can thrive in the traditional classroom and different curricula and skills for teaching that curricula are required. That is where Special Education teachers come in.

For example, those students with mental, physical, emotional and/or social “delays,” there exist special education programs. “Delays” refer to developmental delays, where some element of a child’s overall development (physical, cognitive, social, etc.) has not progressed at the appropriate pace, setting them behind the established developmental timeline for the child’s age group.

For these children, Special Education programs and services have been created. Special Education programs rely on specialized content and adapted teaching methodologies and instruction techniques to help developmentally delayed children learn and grow. Special Education programs must meet the specific and individualized learning needs of each child, so students are placed in groups based on developmental stage (skills/ability) as opposed to age. Because of this, Special Education teachers can more effectively teach to the students’ skill level.

As one might expect, Special Education teachers need to be certified, and that certification permits those teachers to work students across a wide range of ages, grade levels, and skills. While Special Education programs are designed to allow teachers to teach based on student skills and abilities, most certification programs are categorized by the student’s age. Teachers may become certified for the following age groups:

  • Early Intervention and Early Childhood Special Education programs
    • Birth – Age 4
  • Childhood Special Education
    • Kindergarten – 6th Grade
  • Secondary Special Education
    • 7th – 12th Grade

A number of special education teacher certification programs also allow teachers to pursue a general certification that covers children/students from birth to the age of 21.