How Special Needs Teachers & Assistants make a difference
Why do so many current and future teachers decide to enter the field of special education? Most will say that their primary motivation is to make a difference in the lives of people who face physical and mental challenges. That’s probably why training programs and special courses of study in special education are among the most popular choices for college students and mid-career instructors. What is the most efficient way to build a career in special education?
Everything begins with online research. That means studying the field and exploring the different kinds of jobs available and then selecting an area that interests you most. The primary piece of the puzzle is earning a degree that supports a career in special education. After that, it’s time to do student teaching and rack up at least one year of experience in a live classroom environment. Many candidates finish their first year and decide to work as independent tutors in one-on-one situations. Others feel more at ease in traditional roles working for school districts or serving as instructors in stand-alone institutions. Here’s how to begin creating a rewarding career in the dynamic arena of special-needs education.
Choose a Niche
Most special-Ed teaching professionals specialize. The choices include areas similar to traditional education, like math, language arts, and physical education. However, some prospective instructors prefer to concentrate on working with students who have severe mental or physical disabilities. Other professionals in the niche prefer helping pre-K, grade school, high school, or other segments of the student population. No matter which niche you decide on, you should know that as a professional in this industry you will be responsible for encouraging good habits to nurture mental health, physical well-being, and inclusive habits in your students.
Get the Right Degree
Getting and financing a degree in the right field of study is the single best way to begin a long-term career in special education. What are the right degrees? Liberal arts degrees are a good all-around choice for generalists, but note that many colleges now offer specific courses of study for educational specialists. It’s not necessary to major in one of the teaching-related subjects, so keep your options open if you prefer to choose another subject.
Paying for school is the biggest challenge for many prospective instructors. That’s why so many turn to professional services like Going Merry scholarships to find financial opportunities that come with no strings attached. It’s important to remember that scholarships, like grants, are not loans. Recipients never have to pay them back. Plus, if you use a service to get matched to multiple scholarship offers, you instantly increase the chance of receiving enough money to cover a part or all of a four-year degree.
Accumulate Classroom Teaching Hours
Most instructors need to acquire about one year of in-class experience before they can sit for a licensing examination. The rules vary from state to state, so be sure to check with the relevant department in the area where you want to teach. Look for training programs that offer base rates of pay. That way, you can save some money and rack up the required hours for licensing at the same time.
Explore Non-Traditional Paths
Don’t assume all the best jobs are with big city school districts. Many special-Ed instructors work for stand-alone clinics and schools, while others prefer to teach in the home school sector or for state institutions. There are plenty of opportunities in the field, and most regions currently suffer from a shortage of qualified special education professionals.