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Special Education Teacher



Help disabled students learn and grow.

Salary Range

$46,570 - $75,360

What does a Special Education Teacher do?

Ludwig van Beethoven was deaf. Helen Keller was blind. Hans Christian Andersen had dyslexia. And none other than Albert Einstein had Asperger’s syndrome. Along with their disabilities, these historical figures had at least one other thing in common: They had great teachers.

Employed by schools at all levels, special education teachers work with students who have mental, emotional, or physical disabilities. That includes everything from speech impediments, hearing impairments, and physical handicaps to autism, emotional disabilities, and Down syndrome.

Because they require special needs and attention, students with disabilities are assigned to your classroom where they typically benefit from smaller class sizes, modified curricula, and more one-on-one instruction. Like all teachers, you create lesson plans, assign homework, and grade tests. However, instead of traditional teaching methods, you use techniques that cater to your students’ special needs.

While general-education teachers teach standardized curricula, for instance, you teach individualized ones. In fact, where you differ most as a special education teacher from general-education teachers is in the development and execution of an Individualized Education Program (IEP) for each of your students. Tailor-made for an individual student, an IEP sets educational goals and milestones based on the student’s unique needs and abilities.

Because the IEP is a group effort, you’re part of a team that often includes parents, therapists, and social workers. As such, you collaborate on teaching not only academic knowledge but also life skills. As much as anything, therefore, your goal is to help your students become as independent as possible.

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