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Arkansas State University

The Role of Special Education Teachers

Special education certification programs are seeing a surge in applicants as more and more jobs become available. Schools are required by law to provide appropriate and adequate education for all students regardless of disability. This means that more than 6.4 million students receive special education services each year. Often, special education students require one-on-one support or special training, so it can be difficult to find enough teachers to meet the need. In addition, though special education is a rewarding experience for teachers who commit to serving children with disabilities, the challenges can sometimes make retaining special education teachers difficult. These shortages may lead to legal troubles if schools cannot serve their students appropriately.

Special Education Certification May Make You More Marketable

Whether you are looking for a job as a substitute teacher, classroom teacher or special education teacher, having special education certification may be your ticket to getting the most interviews and offers. As schools become more inclusive, they need more teachers with special education experience. This makes getting a master’s degree in special education online the perfect opportunity to get an edge on your competition. Teachers who take special education coursework may also be better for general education differentiation and classroom management.

Knowing the Challenges May Help You Avoid the Pitfalls

Many special education teachers claim that they did not realize what the job would really be like when they began pursuing their careers. They took the job thinking it would mean less behavior management and data gathering and more reading, writing and arithmetic. Additionally, special education involves a great deal of paperwork. If teachers are disorganized or lack management skills, they may end up in a very challenging situation. This is when earning a master’s degree in special education online can really help. These classes can help keep you informed about new developments in the field and how to use them in your classroom.

Dealing With Challenging Behaviors Makes the Job Difficult

Many special education teachers report that dealing with students with behavioral issues is one of the toughest parts of the job. Professional development and coaching can be great strategies for learning how to manage difficult behavior while maintaining focus on the day as a whole. Teachers often find that once they stop personalizing student behavior, they create less emotional stress. Generally speaking, teachers with special education certification know more methods of managing difficult behaviors than their colleagues without certification.

Avoiding Isolation Through Professional Learning Communities

Teaching can be a lonely job, but teaching in special education can be especially difficult because you often work with just one or two students in isolated classroom spaces. Professional Learning Communities (PLNs) can help teachers feel valued, respected and connected. Teachers are more likely to stay positive about their jobs when they know that other positive people understand what they are going through each day. Teachers who enroll in a master’s degree in special education may also cultivate an even stronger network with their classmates. Their shared experience can create bonds that help special education teachers stay in their positions and continue helping children in special education.

When teachers with special education certification use resources like online programs and other technologies, they gain immediate access to information and support that is crucial to continued success. There are many ways to help avoid the potential legal problems of having too few special education teachers. The first step is to locate and take advantage of the resources necessary to properly train and certify the right teachers.

Learn more about A-State’s Online MSE — Special Ed — Instructional Specialist K-12.


USA Today College: Special Education Teacher Shortage Creates Opportunity for Students

NPR: Behind the Shortage of Special Ed Teachers: Long Hours, Crushing Paperwork

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