Special Education Teacher

Special Education Teacher


Chicago, IL

Female, 32

From ’03-‘06, I was a special education teacher in Philadelphia as part of Teach for America. I taught children with mild to moderate special needs (primarily learning disabilities, attention deficits, cognitive disabilities, and behavioral problems) in grades 2 - 8 in all academic subjects. I saw a lot of things and learned a lot...especially the art of patience.

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41 Questions


Last Answer on April 03, 2018

Best Rated

This is a follow-up to the previous question. Thanks! What problems or difficulty do Special Education teachers encounter when communicating with parents and other professionals.

Asked by Bryan over 5 years ago

It can vary greatly, depending on the individuals involved. Sometimes a barrier may be that parents are not responsive to communication from teachers or administrators at school and they do not engage in communication or collaboration with school staff to support their child. Conversely, sometimes a barrier is that parents are very communicative and advocate for their child actively but school staff on the child's IEP team are not responsive in addressing the parent's requests for a specific intervention or program to be used with their child. Another common barrier can be that Special Education teachers and General Education teachers do not communicate effectively. It is the responsibility of the IEP case manager to be sure that all other staff who work with a child with special needs know about the child's needs, accommodations, and support services so they can all adequately support the child.

Hi there,

Is it good to have the same personal assistant to a kid with special needs as ADHD or autism all the time or to change the personal assistant every now and then?

Thank you

Waiting for your reply

Best regards


Asked by Amy over 4 years ago

Great question! Good adult support is very thoughtfully designed, implemented, monitored over time, and faded as the child is able to complete more activities on their own. The IEP team should sit down to thoroughly discuss during which activities the child truly needs adult support and during which activities they can function without direct adult support from a teaching assistant. Only children with significant medical, physical, or serious emotional/behavioral problems could need an adult assistant for a large percentage of their school day. It is better to change an assistant over time so the child does not become overly dependent on a specific individual to meet their needs. The very best teacher assistant is one who works themselves out of a job - by helping the child become more and more independent. It is not mean to challenge a child to try doing more things on their own. It is the goal for every child to become an adult capable of independent functioning.

I am currently in school and will be student teaching next semester. I am working on a project and would appreciate some input. What are some modifications that I could make for a student when teaching 2nd grade and teaching how to tell time?

Asked by Lauren over 4 years ago

Special education modifications to assignments often include things like adding visual, verbal, or gestural cues when giving a direction or asking a question, reducing the number or type of response required from the student, or extended time to respond. For a 2nd grader learning to tell time, you might give them a larger clock to use to learn the numbers, repeated practice counting by 5's up to 60, songs or rhymes about telling time and counting minutes on a clock, practice with a clock that they can manipulate the hour and minute hands of, pictures of clocks that ask them to color in the elapsed time to figure out how many minutes after the hour have passed and how many minutes until the next hour, etc. Hope this helps!

When and under what circumstances do Special Education teachers have to communicate with parents and other professionals.

Asked by Bryan over 5 years ago

Special education teachers and colleagues should be communicating almost daily to be sure that all who work with a child with special needs are aware of and understand how to meet the child's individual needs appropriately. This is considered best practice, but there really are not legal guidelines for communication between staff members to coordinate services for children with special needs. This is often determined by school district or school administrator's expectations for staff communication. Communication with parents of a child with special needs is expected to occur at a minimum of three times per year. You are required to give periodic updates of a child's progress on IEP (Individual Education Plan) goals at least three times per year. Best practice is often to communication with parents more often than this, but this is a minimum requirement included in special education law.

I have two questions.
1. Can you teach special education with a degree in elementary education?
2. How do you cater to each individual child's needs?

Asked by Laura almost 5 years ago

In most states you are required to have a Special Education teaching certificate in order to teach special education. However, this does not necessarily require a degree in special education. It might be required that you complete coursework in special education or pass a certification exam on special education topics, but not necessarily have a major in special education. Check with the State Department of Education or the Professional Licensing/Certification Office to be certain of the requirements in your state.

Differentiation of instruction is the method of meeting the needs of children in a classroom. Even children without any type of special need can vary greatly in their skills. A teacher is prepared during their university coursework to understand how to effectively assess, measure, and support children with varying needs in a single classroom. Preparing scaffolded activities that include reminders of skills previously learned that lead up to a new skill being taught, as well as activities that include enrichment opportunities to build upon a new skill and apply it in a new way, are some examples of differentiation. Small group work within a classroom can also be helpful to make it easier to support children of similar needs some of the school day, while providing opportunities for children who struggle in a given skill area to work alongside peer models who are stronger in that skill area.

Can a student with an EI certification have his cert changed to OHI with documentation of ADD from a dr?

Asked by Ali about 4 years ago

An IEP team can change a student's eligibility by convening a re-evaluation of the child's eligibility for special education. In this process the team will gather assessment data and information from parents about the child's current developmental skills and needs. This may include a medical diagnosis of an attention deficit disorder but should not be limited to this single piece of information. No decision about a student's educational needs should be made based on a single assessment score, evaluation result, or doctor visit. After gathering information from multiple sources (report from teachers, report from parents, doctor's evaluation, assessments by the school psychologist, etc.) the team may very well decide that it is appropriate to change the child's eligibility category to Other Health Impairment rather than another category of eligibility. This is a team decision (not one that can be made only by the school staff or only by the parents). A change in eligibility should be made when doing so will help the child access special education interventions and related services they need to address their educational needs and help them to make adequate progress in their academic development.

i have work in a program with down syndrome students there one student a bright 18 year old with her head down a whole day crying she wants to go home however not verbalizing what can be done

Asked by kg over 4 years ago

This sounds like an awful situation, I am sorry to hear about the unhappy student in the classroom where you work. It can be very difficult to find an appropriate match between an educational program an each student's academic and functional skill needs and abilities. Is it possible that this student is unhappy because her abilities surpass the instruction that's being offered in her classroom? If this is the case, it might help to let her parents know that she is unhappy and they can speak with the teacher or principal about finding a program or level of support that better meet's the student's needs. Is it possible that the student's social-emotional needs are not being attended to? Sometimes students with intellectual disabilities such as Down Syndrome have difficulty explaining their feelings in an age appropriate manner. For a teenage student with a disability this is especially difficult, because typical teenagers are prone to rapid changes in mood and extreme emotional highs and lows. If this is the case, it could help to consult with the school's social worker, counselor, or school psychologist to see if additional social-emotional support could be offered to this student.