A person applying for a position as a special education teacher for preschool, kindergarten or elementary grades will be expected to go above and beyond the responsibilities of teachers who work with children who don't have special needs or learning disabilities. Special education teachers work with children who can have any combination of emotional, physical or mental challenges that require a higher level of training than teachers who work with children who don't have these struggles. Because of the challenges involved with teaching these students, a higher level of communication skills, compassion and patience is expected of both the teachers and the parents of special needs children. A special education teacher will be required to provide more individualized attention to students due to the variety of circumstances that are unique to each child in a special education classroom.
Working as a teacher with younger children who have special needs is an important responsibility. As with all children, the development of learning in the earlier stages of a child's education will play a large role in shaping the child's life as a teen and as an adult. Being able to assess the needs and create achievable and positive goals for each individual child requires a high degree of awareness and understanding. A special education teacher will have to adapt to situations quickly and defuse conflicts and trauma on a frequent basis. It's also more than likely that sensitivity to emotions will be necessary for this job.
A bachelor's degree in special education is required to be licensed to teach in most states, though there are some school districts that require a master's degree in the field. An elementary or preschool special education teacher could work in either a public school or private school that has a special education department or a private school that is specifically designed to meet the needs of special needs students.
Special Education Teacher, Preschool, Kindergarten, or Elementary School Tasks
- Maintain accurate student records as required by laws and administrative regulations.
- Instruct elementary students individually and in groups.
- Maintain classroom discipline.
- Evaluate students and communicate progress with parents, guardians, and administrators.
- Plan, assign, and evaluate lessons, projects and tests.