Special Education

What every Special Education Teacher needs to know



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Special education teachers need to understand not every child will learn the same way. This is true even if all of the other children in class learned a concept using the same method. They need to grasp the idea that parents want what is right for their children. If a special education teacher does not get the idea of using a variety of resources with a child, he or she is not working to their fullest potential.

Teachers have limited resources in schools. They often spend their own money to purchase books, calendars and other items designed to help teach a required curriculum. Special education teachers need to know how to use all resources available. These can include ordinary items families have in their homes, including cleaned and dried, empty egg cartons, food labels cut from packages and containers, individual items to make a 3-D graph to teach math skills and more like these.

By relying on what is already in place, special education teachers think inside the box only, not outside, where the children are waiting for someone special. Children with special needs do not need standard answers, nor do they need someone who follows the leader when it comes to sharing the world with them. They need people who are willing to try new ideas, discard ones that do not work and reach for the stars to make a concept understood.

Children are often taught using a planned curriculum. They have, maybe, one or two weeks to grasp the elements of this plan. If they are lucky, they may get to revisit these ideas each year, yet the realization of these facts and figures is not learned until someone special uses the right choice of words, the right method for explaining and the right way to complete the steps.

By breaking down these steps, the elements of the curriculum can be taught. Breaking down steps of anything is important for children with special needs. Their brains think better this way, and they do not "miss the boat." By giving these special children the time to think, ask, grasp and seek, we can give them the time needed to learn.

What they can learn is amazing and will bring tears to the eyes of parents who face an insurmountable war with the schools who want children to learn the same way, at the same time and without much flexibility. These tears fall, not from sadness and frustration of another year leaving their child behind, but from joy, that their child can learn and is smart. These are the children that the schools just don't get.

Special education teachers have to know all this and more because they are not educating the children who grasp the elements with a normal amount of problems, they are educating the ones who fall through the cracks, the ones who, year after year, struggle with the concepts other children already learned. They need to recall why they became special education teachers. What motivated them to make the extra part of their educational journey, to attend extra classes, to seek further knowledge?

Special education teachers need to be, to know, to want, and to have so much more than what the schools, parents and others do. They need to think as my daughter's teachers do and accept whatever will come their way. They need to know not all days will be great, and some days they may even wonder why they ever wanted to be teachers. Then, they need to know tomorrow is a new day, and the slate is clean.

More about this author: Patti Mcquillen

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