Special education teacher reading to her students.

Challenges of Teaching Special Education

It takes a certain kind of person to become a special education teacher. These individuals are 100% dedicated to their students’ education and well-being, which requires a great deal of passion and hard work. While there are many great things about being a special education teacher, there are also a few challenges.

The Difficulties

One of the biggest challenges special education teachers face is the intense amount of paperwork. Every student that receives special education services has their own unique needs. As such, each student has their own Individualized Learning Plan (IEP), which is created to meet those specific needs and make any necessary accommodations. In addition to IEPs, teachers have to fill out numerous forms, evaluations, and reports, among other things. Keeping track of multiple students’ files and making sure that everything goes smoothly is quite demanding.

Another challenge special education teachers face is communication. They have to communicate not only with their students’ parents but with the students’ other teachers and therapists, as well. It is a special education teacher’s job to keep everyone on the same page and answer questions if something is unclear or a problem arises. It is absolutely essential to maintain constant open and honest communication between all parties. This can be very taxing.

Similar to communication, collaborating with general education teachers can be a bit of a challenge, too. A special education teacher is responsible for knowing the general education curriculum in order to support their students. There is typically a mix of grade levels in a single special education class, so a special education teacher may have to be familiar with multiple curriculums. It’s important to meet with general education teachers to gain a better understanding, but finding the time to do that can be tricky.

Lastly, data collection can also be a challenge. Special education teachers need to have evidence to back up any and every claim that they make. For example, if they say that a particular student is struggling in math, they need proof to back it up. This data is the best way to measure a student’s success or setback, and making sure it is properly monitored is important.

The Reward

However, if asked, almost every special education teacher will tell you that it’s worth it. Working with their students and helping to better their lives far outweighs any amount of paperwork or data collection. Being a special education teacher is not an easy job, but it is a rewarding one.