It takes a special kind of dedication and passion to become a special education strategist. The job is essentially instructional, but the focus of the special education professional is solely on school-age children who are physically disabled or who face mental and emotional challenges and who may have been diagnosed with learning disabilities as a result. While the curriculum may appear to have the same coverage as that used for the rest of the student population, the special education strategist has to translate the materials to a format usable for a special needs group. Content coverage is expected to align with standards set by the Department of Education or the school’s governing board for private schools, but special education professionals provide inputs regarding curriculum, grading and classroom accommodations for children with special needs.
Special Education Strategist Credentials
If special education instruction is your calling, the minimum requirement is a bachelor’s degree. Some universities offer a Bachelor’s in Special education while others may offer special education as a field of specialization. Many teachers in this field opt to pursue a master’s degree in special education to strengthen their skills at understanding and guiding students with special needs. Bachelor’s and master’s programs that focus on special education will include topics such as understanding emotional and behavioral disorders, assessment and guidance of learning-disabled students and classroom management skills for special students. An internship or a residency program are typical capstone projects to fulfill graduation requirements while providing real-world experience in the field of special education.
Credentialing requirements may vary by state. In general, special education strategists need to earn a specialist credential. The credential authorizes the teacher to hold a position as a special education strategist. It will also designate the level or grouping that the strategist is certified to handle. Certifications may cover one or more of the following designations: early childhood special education, mild to moderate disabilities, moderate to severe disabilities, visually impaired, deaf and hard of hearing, physical and health impairments.
Skills and Characteristics of a Special Education Professional
Special education strategists must have strong reading, math and science abilities to be able to adapt the recommended curriculum in a way that students with special needs can process and absorb the information. You must have the patience and inner strength to manage a classroom of students with different abilities and needs. Self-discipline and self-confidence are highly valued attributes in a job that is challenging yet very rewarding. The special education strategist will have to assess each child’s progress and recommend academic, social and other interventions when needed to ensure that students are meeting predefined goals. Tolerance, persistence and flexibility are also expected from special education teachers, which are important traits because many of the students in their classrooms may have limitations on their ability to communicate.
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Outlook for Careers in Special Education
The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a growth rate of 6 percent for special education support staff for the decade ending in 2024. This growth rate is comparable to the average rate of expansion for all other industries in the U.S. The educational system recommends different approaches to providing services to special needs students. They can be integrated in regular classrooms or assigned to schools dedicated to educating special needs children. When you become a special education strategist, you are given the unique opportunity to make a difference in the lives of children with disabilities and impairments.