Are Online Teacher Certifications Honored in All States?

Reciprocity agreements make it easy for teachers to convert their certificate to an analogous

teaching certificate in another state. In other words, thanks to regional and national reciprocity

agreements, an online teacher certification may open the door to teaching opportunities


A few things to keep in mind about teacher certification reciprocity:

● Reciprocity is not automatic and will require you to contact the department of education

in the state you wish to teach to determine what criteria is required to complete the.


● Reciprocity is not a guarantee that all certificates will be accepted by a receiving state,

so wait until you receive confirmation of certificate transfer before making plans to move

● Reciprocity is not always a full license or certificate transfer, which means educators

may need to complete additional requirements such as coursework or assessments

before receiving a full professional certificate by the receiving state

NASDTEC Interstate Agreement

One of the largest reciprocity agreements in the country is the NASDTEC Interstate Agreement,

a collection of over 50 individual agreements by states and Canadian provinces. Each individual

agreement that makes up the larger NASDTEC Interstate Agreement outlines which states will

accept which educator certificates from other states.

The minimum components of an “approved educator preparation program” under the NASDTEC

Interstate Agreement are the completion of a Bachelor’s degree, supervised clinical practice and

a planned program of study.

The Interstate Agreement also defines teacher licensure in “stages” to help create a common

language for member states and jurisdictions regarding reciprocity requirements.

Stages of teacher licensure under the NASDTEC Interstate Agreement are described below:

● Stage 1 Teacher License – License issued to an individual who holds a minimum of a.

Bachelor’s degree, has met approved teacher preparation program admission

requirements but has not met specific requirements of the issuing state or jurisdiction.

● Stage 2 Teacher License – License issued to an individual who holds a minimum of a.

Bachelor’s degree, has completed an approved teacher preparation program, but has

not met specific requirements of the issuing state or jurisdiction.

● Stage 3 Teacher License – License issued to an individual who holds a minimum of a.

Bachelor’s degree, has completed an approved teacher preparation program, and has

met all specific requirements of the issuing state or jurisdiction.

● Stage 4 Teacher License – License issued to an individual who holds a minimum of a.

Master’s degree, has completed an approved teacher preparation program, and has met

or exceeded all specific requirements of the issuing state or jurisdiction.

Regional Reciprocity Agreements

In addition to the NASDTEC Interstate Agreement, there are also several smaller regional

reciprocity agreements between neighboring states to address teacher mobility and interstate

licensing requirements.

The Northeast Common Market, for example, is comprised of eight states in the northeastern

U.S. — Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, New York, Rhode

Island and Vermont — that allows teachers with an initial license in one state to teach in another

state for up to two years before meeting the latter state’s licensing requirements.

Another formal regional reciprocity agreement is the Midwest Regional Exchange, which

includes Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Dakota and


Learn More About Teaching Certificate Reciprocity

Refer to this page on teaching certificate state reciprocity requirements to find the transfer

policies for the state(s) you wish to teach in. If you have not earned state certification, the Online

Accelerated Teacher Certification (OATCERT) program from Saint Joseph’s University will help

you achieve your Pennsylvania Level 1 Secondary Instructional and Educational Specialist

Certification that can be converted to another state’s teaching license if you plan to move in the future.

Request more information on the OATCERT program or call 866-758-7670 to learn more.

10 Benefits of Teaching Special Education

Thinking about becoming a special education teacher?

Wondering if it’s the right career choice for you?

While teaching special education definitely comes with some unique challenges, the truth is that there are a lot of big benefits to the career as well. Few people realize how rewarding becoming a special ed teacher can be and just how much it can positively influence your life.

Luckily, this article is here to help. Below we’ll give you an overview of the top benefits of teaching special education and tell you why it may be the right career choice for you.

1. You’ll Have a Specialized Skill

One of the benefits of becoming a special education teacher is that it will require you to have a more advanced education and specialized knowledge that other teachers don’t have. You’ll have to be licensed to teach special education and this extra education can help you stand out in the job market.

More job opportunities will become available to you and you’ll have a much better resume that you can use when it comes time to look for new positions. As a result of becoming certified and teaching special ed, you’ll become a much more marketable teacher.

Even if you move on from teaching special ed later on in life, your experiences as a special ed teacher will shape your skills and continue to influence your career in big ways.

2. Special Ed Teachers Are in High Demand

If you want to gain a high amount of job security, becoming a special ed teacher is one of the best ways you can do it. Special education teachers are harder to come by than the average teacher and because of that, you’ll be in high demand.

When it comes time for a job search, whether you’re moving across the country or looking for a job close to home, you’ll often find that it goes very smoothly and is over quickly. There are also plenty of jobs that you can do outside of the classroom as well.

3. Work Days Will Be Shorter

One extra perk of working in special education is that, in many cases, your workday will be much shorter. Special education school days are typically a bit shorter in length than average. Along with that, there is also plenty of flexibility in how you can arrange class schedules and the course curriculum.

While the work can be hard, having a little bit less time at school can be a great perk that can give you the rest and relaxation you need after a hard day of teaching.

4. You’ll Develop Great Relationships With Students

When you work as a special ed teacher, few things can compare to the close relationships you’ll form with your students. You wouldn’t always get the same opportunity to form deep relationships with other types of students like you can as a special education teacher.

Your students’ relationships with you will be a big part of what matters as a special education teacher. You’ll find yourself caring for your children deeply and celebrating their successes as your time with them goes on and as you get more chances to further their education.

5. There’s a Better Adult-to-Child Ratio

While it’s not always the case, when teaching special education there is often a much better ratio of teachers to students. For many teachers, this is a big plus since managing a big classroom full of students can be difficult.

While teaching special ed comes with its challenges, having a smaller focus on a limited number of students can be a better alternative to dealing with a large classroom full of students. While only a few special education students can often be just as difficult to deal with, in other moments it can be a much simpler experience.

6. There Will Be More Individualized Education

You’ll also find that it’s a necessity to give each student plenty of individualized attention when you teach special education. Each child will be different and will have different capabilities. You’ll also be working with students at various grade levels.

Big classrooms make it hard to spend one-on-one time with each student and instead teachers usually have to adopt a one size fits all approach out of necessity.

If you would rather focus on giving your all to a few individual students, then special education will give you that opportunity. No matter what your special education specialization is, you’re likely to have a lot of time to focus on each student along with their specific needs and challenges.

7. You’ll Get to Teach the Students Who Need It Most

By becoming a special education teacher, you’ll get a chance to reach the students who are most in need of help. While all students can benefit from strong educational support, children who are in special education need it even more.

By becoming one of their teachers, you’ll be able to know that you’re making a big difference in their lives. You’ll be educating and caring for the children who need your love and support most of all and will develop stronger teaching skills and capabilities as a result.

8. You’ll Go Beyond the Classroom

When you become a special education teacher, you’ll usually be a lot more than that. You’ll also become their advocate and will have to communicate with other people in the students’ lives.

You’ll often be communicating with parents as well as health professionals and other educators to care for the student. You’ll team up with these people to ensure that a student is not only getting a great education but that their other needs are being met as well.

As a special education teacher, you’ll be influencing many areas of a child’s life and impacting them in ways that extend beyond the classroom.

9. You’ll Be Able to See The Impact Firsthand

By teaching special education students you’ll also be able to see the impact you have on students firsthand. Oftentimes, you’ll spend several years with a student. You may even teach them for the entire time they spend at your school.

When you’re not a special education teacher, this usually isn’t the case. You won’t spend the same amount of time with a typical student who has a different teacher as they move from grade to grade.

On the other hand, working as a special ed teacher will often give you a better chance to see your students grow and learn over the course of time. It also allows you to see the full impact of the work you’ve done to get them to where they are.

10. It’s a Rewarding Experience

Few things can be as rewarding as working with special needs students. You’ll know that you’ll be making a difference in the life of some great kids who need it more than most.

You’ll be able to rest assured knowing that at the end of the day you’ve made good use of your time as a teacher. You’ll see that you have been able to impact others in a positive way.

The truth is that the relationships you form with students are everything and knowing that you impacted their lives and their families’ lives in a positive way is a great feeling.

Ready to Start Teaching Special Education?

Teaching special education can be very challenging. However, teachers who have never done it don’t realize just how rewarding it can be as well. If you’re trying to make the decision of whether you should teach special ed, then consider the above points carefully. Your decision may become a lot easier.

Looking for more teaching and career resources? Check out our resources section now for more great tips and insights.

Disability Awareness and Bullying prevention

There’s a reason education professionals strive for as much inclusion as possible for kids with disabilities. Being in a diverse environment is an educational experience for kids of all ages. It lets them learn about people who are different from them and find ways to get along.

At the same time, an inclusive environment will always come with some hurdles. As sad as it is, we tend to see bullying issues any time there’s a large group of kids. It happens even more when we bring kids with disabilities into the mix, though.

How do you face these issues head-on? It’s important to have a frank discussion with all kids about bullying prevention. It might be a challenging subject, but these tips will help.

How to Talk to Kids with Disabilities About Bullying Prevention

As a special education professional, you may be dealing with bullying prevention on a regular basis. Here are some tips to keep in mind while you discuss bullying with your students.

Explain Both Sides of the Coin

Many people assume that kids with disabilities are the ones who get bullied and that neurotypical kids are the bullies. While this does tend to be the most common scenario, it’s not always the case.

While you want to talk to your students about what to do if they’re getting bullied, don’t neglect to talk about why bullying is wrong. It’s just as important to make sure they know not to be bullies as it is to help protect them from becoming victims.

Explain That It Isn’t Their Fault if They Get Bullied

One of the most common problems facing kids who are bullied is the assumption that they’ve brought it on themselves. Too many adults say things like, “If you didn’t act so weird, they wouldn’t bully you.”

The #1 cause of bullying is bullies, plain and simple. You don’t want kids to think that if they want to be themselves, it gives others the permission to abuse them.

Make sure your students know that if they get bullied, it isn’t their fault and they don’t need to change who they are.

Talk About What Constitutes Bullying

Another common problem with bullying is that kids don’t actually know that they’re bullying someone. They might think they’re picking on a friend in a playful way but they’ve crossed the line into bullying.

Make it clear that it isn’t okay to pick on other kids, regardless of what the intentions are. While bullying is defined by a pattern of behavior, it’s a slippery slope from the occasional mean-spirited “prank.”

It’s also important to explain that bullying doesn’t need to be a physical action. Words alone can be a form of bullying that is more traumatic to kids than physical abuse.

Tell Them What to Do if They See or Experience Bullying

When your students have a clear understanding of what bullying is, it’s important to give them actionable instructions, too. Tell them what to do if they see bullying or experience it themselves.

Make sure kids know that it’s important to report bullying if they see it happening to someone else. If they don’t, they’re hurting the victim by allowing the abuse to continue.

Don’t Wait Until Something Happens

Too many parents and education professionals put off “the bullying talk” too long. They tend to think they have more time before their kids have to worry about it.

If you wait until something happens, you’ll guarantee that your students will have at least one situation when they don’t know what to do. The key is to educate kids about bullying before they can form bad habits or get into a situation when they may react in violence.

How to Talk to Neurotypical Kids About Disability Awareness and Bullying Prevention

In some schools, you’ll only spend time with kids with disabilities. In other cases, though, schools may recognize that you’re a resource for bullying prevention with neurotypical kids as well.

If you’re in a position to discuss bullying with neurotypical kids, here are some tips to help.

Educate Them About Kids with Disabilities

One of the largest reasons neurotypical kids bully kids with disabilities is a lack of understanding. They don’t recognize what their disability is or that it may be the reason they seem “weird.”

Education alone will go a long way toward creating a cooperative and safe environment. Talk to neurotypical students about various disabilities their peers might have, from autism spectrum disorders and Down syndrome to physical impairments.

Define Bullying

As with your students with disabilities, many neurotypical kids who are bullies don’t realize they’re bullying. To them, it might seem like good fun while it creates fear and anxiety for the victim.

Discuss examples of bullying with the kids and answer any questions they have about it. Explain to them that if they’re questioning whether something is okay, it’s probably not okay.

Talk About the Impacts Bullying Can Have

This is a touchy subject. Some parents and educators think suicide is too heavy of a subject for their students.

The reality is that it’s something they deal with at an early age. The youngest documented suicide victim is a 6-year-old girl. Kids as young as 8 and 9 have committed suicide that we know to be the direct result of bullying.

As unpleasant as it is, kids need to understand the real risks of bullying. You don’t need to get graphic, but you need to explain to them that it can have serious consequences.

In addition to suicide, it’s important to explain the other potential effects of bullying. Discuss the results of low self-esteem, higher risks for drug use, poor academic performance, and more.

Explain What to Do if They See or Experience Bullying

As with your special education students, you need to give neurotypical kids actionable instructions. Explaining what bullying is and why it’s bad won’t help much if they don’t know what to do if they see it happening.

Tackling Bullying Prevention Before It’s a Problem

Total bullying prevention isn’t practical. Still, there are plenty of ways you can cut down on bullying in your school and the tips above can help.

For more advice that will help you with your special education career, check out our online resources.

What You Need to Know About Teaching Special Ed in Florida

If you’re considering a career in special education, the timing couldn’t be better.

A recent U.S. News & World Report article laments the teacher-shortage crisis looming across the country and the particularly severe scarcity in special education. In fact, according to a study from the Learning Policy Institute, most states – including Florida – identified special education as a shortage area in their reports to the U.S. Department of Education in 2015-16.

As Florida grapples with this serious situation, college graduates who specialize in or seek advanced special education degrees will be snapped up by local school districts to fill vacancies.

Ready to position yourself as the perfect candidate? Here’s what you need to know about teaching special education in Florida.

Teachers’ Starting Point

To teach in Florida, you must at a minimum hold a bachelor’s degree, commonly in education or special education. (Each state sets its own requirements for earning a professional teaching certificate.) In the Sunshine State you can choose to major in special education (or similar majors), or you can opt for a bachelor’s degree that includes 30 semester hours in specific areas of exceptional student education – often called ESE for short.

Head to the Florida Department of Education (FLDOE) website for general information about the state’s public education system. Then check out theBureau of Exceptional Education and Student Services, which administers programs and coordinates services for Florida students with disabilities.

Next Stop: Florida Requirements

In addition to requiring a bachelor’s degree, Florida mandates certification for all educators (including classroom teachers, school administrators and other support professionals) who teach in public schools, and it is required in many private schools as well.

Florida offers two types of educator licensing. The three-year, non-renewable Temporary Certificate is geared for new teachers who haven’t yet met all the FLDOE academic and testing requirements. The five-year, renewable Professional Certificate is for educators who have already met all FLDOE’s criteria. There are multiple paths to earning a Florida Professional Certificate – including interstate reciprocity if you have teaching credentials from another state – so you might want to review your educator preparation options in this FLDOE chart.

The FLDOE outlines a four-step process to earning your first Florida teaching certificate:

1. Apply

Complete an initial application package and submit it to FLDOE’s Bureau of Educator Certification. The package will include a CG-10 Application Form and the appropriate processing fee. If you’ve never held a Florida Educator’s Certificate or your Florida Educator’s Certificate has been expired for more than one year, the application fee is $75 per subject. (Check the FLDOE certificate application fee schedule for additional information.) Your application must also include official college transcripts listing all degrees and credits you’ve earned and, if applicable, copies of teaching certificate(s) you hold from any other U.S. states or territories.

2. Determine Eligibility

The Bureau of Educator Certification evaluates your application package, determines your eligibility for a Florida certificate and mails you the results, known as an Official Statement of Status of Eligibility. Valid for three years, this statement serves two functions. It officially says whether you’re eligible for a Temporary Certificate or a Professional Certificate in the subject area you requested, and it provides you with a customized list of the requirements you must complete to receive full state certification in Florida.

3. Seek Employment

With 67 public school districts, Florida offers a wide range of teaching possibilities in elementary and secondary schools. For traditional public schools, each district employs teachers eligible for certification. For Florida’s 650+ charter public schools, the relevant district may help with certification for teachers. Florida also offers instructional options through its online public schools – Florida Virtual Schools – and through several non-public schools. For a one-stop job-hunting portal visit Teach in Florida.

4. Submit Fingerprints

For employment and certification purposes, the school district requires fingerprints from employees at Florida’s traditional and charter public schools.

In addition to this certification process, FLDOE requires four endorsement areas for teachers of students with specific disabilities including severe/profound disabilities, orientation and mobility disabilities, pre-kindergarten disabilities and autism-spectrum disorders.

If you already know you are interested in teaching in this state, and as you decide to pursue a master’s degree in special education, check with your university’s education department to confirm your graduate program complies with the most current FLDOE regulations and licensing requirements.

These 8 Top Special Education Jobs Are Hiring Now

These 8 Top Special Education Jobs Are Hiring NowWhether you want to work in a classroom or not, there are lots of ways to get involved in the field of special education. A range of different positions are available both inside the classroom and out, and not all of them require a Master’s in special education degree. Depending on your interests and skills, your desired work environment, salary and lifestyle, there are many ways to have a fulfilling career working with children with special needs. 

Assistive Technology Specialists

Technology can change a special ed student’s life. Assistive technology specialists work closely with students to prescribe and provide technology that can ease their classroom challenges and bring them academic success. The position may require certification (one example is the Hearing Impaired N-12 Certification in Pennsylvania, which is part of the online Master’s degree program offered by Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia.) The median salary for specialists is around $48,000.

Katrina Keene is an example of a specialist who moved on later in her career to research and integration of new assistive technologies.


Some education journalists report on news of developments in the special ed field, and others, such as Kate Leonard, specialize in covering medical advancements. Some choose to pursue a journalism or special education degree, though it is not generally required. The median salary for a journalist or reporter with a master’s degree or MBA ranges from $37,138 to $42,560. 


School leaders often start their careers as classroom teachers, like Eric Sheninger. By leading the direction of a school and supporting special education teachers, they can profoundly impact the education of students with special needs. A master’s degree is typically required, and principals can earnbetween $88,607 and $112,842, depending on the school district. 

College/University Faculty in Special Ed

Postsecondary teachers are responsible for educating future instructors toward special education degrees. Those like Dr. Matthew Lynch also research and design curricula and resources for teachers to use in the classroom. For an assistant professor, which is typically an untenured position in the U.S., the median salary is $58,861, with a range between $49,603 to $77,828. For associate professors, more often a tenured position, the median salary is $88,935, and can range between $71,626 to $122,045. 

PreK–12 Teacher

Classroom teachers, including general subject teachers and those who focus on children’s special needs, all have an impact on children with physical and psychological disabilities. They help students achieve academic success by adapting state curriculum to their various abilities. Teachers can obtain a certificate or Master’s degree to practice, and earn around $57,000 per year. Some teachers, like Kelly Gallagher, choose additional consulting or writing positions to advise other teachers working with special needs students.

ADHD Coach

Coaches of students with special needs work with them one-on-one to achieve success. After earning a specialized license, child counselors can earn$76,040, on average, yearly. Laurie Dupar and Casey Dixon are two examples of influential special education professionals who’ve incorporated ADHD coaching and counseling into their careers.

Behavioral Therapist

Behavioral therapists work with children who have a range of disabilities and help them adjust to school and life. They are required to obtain a Master’s degree (such as the online program offered by St. Mary’s University in Minnesota) and state license, and generally earn around $32,000. Some, like Tim Villegas, begin careers as behavioral therapists and then continue on to teaching careers.

Occupational Therapist 

Occupational therapists help students with special needs navigate barriers caused by their disabilities to function as capably as possible in school. After earning a master’s degree, occupational therapists earn a median salary of $82,833 — most between $75,875 and $90,229. Some like Dr. Frederick B. Covington work in a range of areas including school-based intervention, autism, developmental disabilities, physical disability and dysfunction, and technology.

These are just some of the options available to those considering special education jobs. They each have their specialties, and there is considerable overlap in how and where these individuals work with children. But for all, it takes teamwork to succeed.

Note: Salary figures as of April 2017.

Learn more about special education careers both inside and beyond the classroom.

The SCERTS Model and Your Classroom

The SCERTS Model and Your ClassroomWhen developing an inclusive teaching approach for your classroom, do you struggle with which method to implement? If you’re teaching both neurotypical students and children with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD), consider the SCERTS Model, which stands for Social Communication, Emotional Regulation and Transactional Support.

This research-based method takes a multidisciplinary approach and outlines individualized strategies to help children develop communication, social and emotional skills. While the SCERTS Model incorporates best practices from well-established ASD approaches (such as TEACCH, Floortime and Social Stories), it differs from traditional approaches by cultivating the capacity of emotional regulation within the student rather than relying on external factors around the student. 

Brief History of the SCERTS Model 

Pioneered by a team of collaborators including Barry Prizant, Ph.D., Amy Wetherby, Ph.D., Emily Rubin and Amy Laurent, the SCERTS Model taps into 25 years of research and clinical/educational practice. These four experts bring combined experience from their work in clinical, university, educational and hospital settings in areas including special education, speech-language pathology, family-centered practice, behavioral and developmental psychology and occupational therapy. 

Now widely used around the world, this approach focuses on the core challenges faced by children with ASD and their families – namely, social communication and emotional regulation. The SCERTS Model uses a cooperative framework that draws a variety of partners together in a team effort. Rather than families, educators and therapists working independently, they work collaboratively and adopt a holistic, person-centered focus.

Appropriate Settings

Appropriate across home, school, community and workplace settings, the SCERTS Model is in line with recommendations by the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences. The ultimate goal is to foster child-initiated communication in real-world activities across a variety of contexts. In a school setting, for example, this means implementing this method in inclusive classrooms so children with ASD can learn with and from neurotypical students who model good social and language behaviors.

“The goal of SCERTS is being able to put these supports into place and embed them in naturally occurring routines for students or naturally occurring activities to increase their active engagement and their ability to learn,” explained Laurent in an interview posted on Presence Learning.

Benefits ASD Learners and More

Designed for all ages and varying developmental abilities, the SCERTS Model benefits individuals with ASD and those who struggle with communication disorders, developmental disabilities and sensory processing disorders. This model can be used with children, teens and older individuals, making it a long-term, flexible approach that spans the challenges faced by different age groups in a variety of settings.

“This is not just about students with autism, it’s about students who have challenges in other developmental capacities, especially social communication and emotional regulation,” Prizant said in the Q&A interview following his Presence Learning webinar.

Key Elements and Implementation

To provide the necessary framework, this comprehensive model focuses on three critical areas

·         SC: Social Communication – developing skills in communication, emotional expression and relationships

·         ER: Emotional Regulation – controlling emotional highs and lows

·         TS: Transactional Support – providing supports to foster communication and learning 

For maximum effectiveness, an integrated team approach works best. Within this cohesive process, parents, educators and service providers partner together from start to finish, including the initial assessment, goal-setting interventions, progress measurement and transactional supports and techniques. This method embeds these elements in the student’s everyday routines and activities across multiple settings, boosting engagement, interpersonal interactions and learning. 

It’s best to have professionals from different disciplines collaborate in this process, including psychologists, speech pathologists and occupational therapists. In school, this means SCERTS-trained educators such as special education teachers and general education teachers are part of the team. Educators can either seek official SCERTS training or self-study SCERTS Model texts.

When mainstreaming children with ASD into inclusive classrooms, the right strategy pays big dividends for all students. The SCERTS Model offers these dividends in the form of a comprehensive method developed and delivered through a team-based effort that fosters the development of communication, social and emotional abilities in every child.

For information curated for special education professionals and families, visit our Resources page. To learn more about education and training available for educators in this specialty, working both inside and outside the classroom, visit our Careers section.


The Special Education Teacher Shortage

Being a teacher isn’t easy. Being a special education is even more difficult, but it’s also the most rewarding profession.

The country is in the middle of a special education teacher shortage. These children need people like you who understand they’re more than their diagnosis.

There are many reasons why there is a special ed teacher shortage. We’ll explain it and why now is the perfect time to join this profession and make a difference in a child’s life.

Special education teachers have the opportunity to watch students blossom and grow. You can help them reach their fullest potential.

There’s Planning and Paperwork

There’s a lot of paperwork in teaching. Special education teachers have a lot more than standard teachers. Also, they must develop individual education plans for each student.

The state and the federal government have requirements that you must meet.

The paperwork has dissuaded many teachers from becoming special education teachers. What do people get out of that paperwork? You get special insights into your students that many teachers never get.

IEPs help students overcome their challenges and reach their fullest potential. Most teachers have a general plan. Many students that may slip through the cracks.

Special education teachers get to know each child and watch them grow from year to year thanks to the paperwork.

You can see as their scores grow or their socialization improves. Many people see the increased paperwork as a negative. In reality, it’s a portal that shows you the children in a way most people don’t see.

It Takes A Special Person

A big reason why there is a special education teacher shortage is it’s not for everyone. You’re working with children that have a wide range of disabilities from minor to extreme physical or mental issues.

If you like helping people, then it might be for you. There will be days when you want to tear your hair out, but there will days when you can’t stop smiling.

Imagine watching a child complete a math problem on their own. It took weeks, but you found a way that finally clicked for them. You did that.

What about when a parent pulls you aside one day and tells you how much their child has changed. They’re holding back tears because the student read a book to them for the first time.

A regular teacher can make a difference to one or two students in a class. A special education makes a difference to each one.

A Teacher Shortage is an Opportunity

If you can teach special education, then you can have your pick of school districts. There’s a shortage in almost every state. Is there an area of the country you’ve always wanted to live in, or did you want to move closer to your family?

Odds are there is a district that needs a special education teacher of your caliber. They might be in dire need and provide a higher wage or other benefits like education loan reimbursement or help pay for your graduate degree.

Special education teachers are a rare breed. You deserve everything they get from a school district.

Take a chance and you could be sitting in a position you’ve always wanted. It’s a buyers’ market, so reach out.

Lots of Work, Lots of Rewards

Special education teachers work many hours, as do most teachers. The children have physical and mental disabilities that need to be accommodated.

This has helped create the special education teacher shortage. They don’t understand the rewards all the extra work provides.

First, special education aides help with work in the classroom. You’re in charge of the classroom and you tell them who and how to help.

You can help one group while classroom helpers work with others. You’re not alone.

You’re helping children develop into their best selves. You not only teach them with an IEP, but with socialization, life skills, and more. The smiles on their faces when they achieve is beautiful.

There’s no better feeling than knowing you’re helping them become better people.

All the work that matters is difficult. If you want an easy job that’s about a paycheck, then find something else. If you want a job that runs the roller coaster of emotions but makes a real difference to people, then sign on the dotted line.

Develop Your Own Program

With a shortage of qualified teachers, school districts are desperate to fill the much-needed positions. This gives you the opportunity to build a program from the ground up. Most teachers are pigeonholed into a specific curriculum and structure.

They have little control and flexibility thanks to government mandates and testing. Special education has rules and structure, but you can develop in whatever way you need. Each child is different, so you can’t have something structured.

If you want to do some groundbreaking work, then districts may give you leeway to pursue it. While all the other teachers are stuck with boring curriculums, you’re pushing boundaries and creating new programs.

What you pioneer in your classroom may become standard procedure in the future for teachers all over the country. The teacher shortage provides you with unique opportunities that other teachers don’t get.

Start Early to Take Advantage of Shortage

If you’re in high school or college, then there are programs designed to bring people into the special education fold. Residency and mentorship programs give you experience that employers will want. If you’re a special education aide, then the district may help with college tuition if you want to become a teacher.

It’s not only current teachers that can take advantage of the shortage. It’s anyone with an interest in helping children with special needs.

Find Your Perfect Teaching Job Today

You can make a difference in a child’s life and develop a career that you’ll love with special education. Don’t let what seem like roadblocks stop you from taking advantage of a teacher shortage. There has never been a better time to be a special education teacher.

If you want to learn more about special education opportunities, then explore our website today.

Understanding CEC’s High-Leverage Practices and Practice-Based Teacher Education

Special education practices have undergone dramatic changes over the past two decades. As our knowledge of children with special needs grows, our methods must change to meet educational goals.

In the fall of 2014, the Council for Exceptional Children approved a set of high-leverage practices for special education teachers. These new guidelines assist educators in getting the most out of the children they teach.

What are these practices? Read on to find out more.

What Are High-Leverage Practices?

There are four areas for special education teachers to focus on. Inside of these four areas, there are 22 practices to aid in the development of exceptional children.


To meet the needs of special education students, teachers need the expertise of a wide range of professionals. The practices in this area help teachers determine how to communicate with those who can help the student’s development.

Teachers should work together with special needs educators, support staff, and behavioral therapists. Teamwork helps students reach measurable goals and build the confidence they need to go out into the world.

Effective collaboration means that each person comes up with ideas. The team listens to and questions these ideas, plans out their implementation and shares results.

Educators need to work with family members to identify what special needs each child has. They also need to have a concrete understanding of the family’s goals and the progress family members see towards reaching them.

Teachers then meet with professionals to go over these goals. They look at the needs of the child to work out an effective plan that produces results. These professionals also determine if they have students that need special accommodations. In these cases, it’s important to work with decision makers to get the needed resources.


Every child has their strengths and weaknesses. The job of a special needs educator is to recognize both, shore up areas that need improvement, and use the child’s strengths to their advantage.

There are two types of assessments that aid in this process. The first is formal assessments. These are the statewide and national level exams that test a child’s academic progress.

There are also informal assessments that teachers use. These include analyzing the teacher’s methods and making corrections where needed.

To put together a student profile, educators use different sources. Special education teachers use information from other professionals, the student’s family, and experts.

The student profile makes it easier to identify a child’s strengths and weaknesses. The teacher must take language, culture, and poverty into account when developing a student’s profile.

From there, the teacher interprets this information for stakeholders (family members, the educational institution, etc.). Educators develop an action plan using this data and give regular updates to the stakeholders the child’s progress.

It’s important to analyze the profile and methods used to reach the goals laid out during the process. Teachers should keep and reuse effective methods and get rid of ones that do not work.


Student success depends on having a safe and respectful learning environment. Teaching students social skills is an important part of the educational experience.

Teachers aren’t only responsible for the students in their care during classroom hours. The job of a special ed teacher includes giving students the tools they need to perform outside of the classroom.

To do this, superstar teachers give personalized specific feedback. They use evidence-based practices and a team-based approach. Most importantly, they provide students with the stability of a positive teacher-student relationship.

A practice-based teacher provides age and culturally appropriate expectations. These expectations become reinforced through routines, reinforcement, and procedures practiced year-round. Providing positive and constructive feedback is one of the most powerful ways a teacher can reinforce good behavior.

Special ed teachers that follow high-leverage practices also teach communication skills and self-care. They prepare their students for life and build upon the child’s present strengths. They then check the success of their program and determine what works and what doesn’t. Remember, teachers must continue to evolve their methods over time.


Instruction that works towards a goal is the most effective form of learning for students with special needs. Special education students need to know their long-term plan is and have a roadmap to success. This helps them understand how their education benefits them and reinforces positive growth.

Establishing individualized goals for students allows teachers to provide feedback and measure success. Teachers then guide students towards these goals through the selection of materials and tasks for each student.

Using technology and recognizing the required foundational needs of students is a must. A student’s roadmap should include a list of pre-requisites that help them proceed towards their next goal.

Through the use of cognitive and metacognitive strategies, teachers support memory and attention. Students learn how to track their own success and provide feedback to teachers on what works best for them.

Teachers, in return, use powerful tools to support this growth. They use methods until the student reaches the desired outcome and then remove those methods when they aren’t needed. The methods of instruction change based on the student’s needs.

Advance Your Career

Are you interested in advancing your career as a special education teacher? If you can follow these high-leverage practices and have a desire to help others, we can assist you in reaching your goals.

Check out our website for job postings and industry news to keep you up to date on the latest teacher education resources.

Student Comprehension: Creative Ways to Assess What Your Students Really Learn

We communicate and process information differently. Incorporating only one assessment style is counterintuitive to measuring the accuracy of what a student comprehends. Inspired by the McDonald’s Dollar Menu design, consider incorporating predesigned platforms that allow the student to choose from a menu of assessment options, thereby not over taxing the educator with hours of extra work and grading.

Ground rules

Students must be trained to use the assessment menu platforms early on in the class. The instructor must model and display instructions both in-class and online for students, parents, and administrators. Developing the assessments should center on Visual, Auditory, and Kinesthetic Learning styles (VAK) that utilize technology platforms that will do the “heavy lifting” of grading so that the instructor is not overburdened.


Example Topic – Gravity

Gravity could be used in history classes to discuss the moon landing, in science classes as an experiment, in math classes as the basis for learning formulas, in English classes as the center of writing a nonfiction story, and even in PE to discuss its effects on throwing a baseball. Consider this topic in your subject area and the flexibility of using the following platforms as part of your assessment menu.


Formative/Summative Assessments

Quick response assessments can be as easy as raising of hands but may not accurately reflect the student’s comprehension of the topic. Consider a low tech option, a shower board, placed in their hands to demonstrate understanding. Inexpensive and available at your local hardware store one shower board can be cut into mini dry erase boards that students can use to reply by word, image or both. Digital solutions to gain individual student quick responses can include platforms such as Twitter, Verso and PollEverywhere.


The Formative/Summative Assessment Platform Menu

Traditional Auditory Visual Kinesthetic The Wildcard
Multiple choice, true or false, essay, all can be given on paper or online for students that are comfortable with the traditional method of assessment. Quia, is an online platform that grades your exams, provides multiple student accommodations, and has a simple and easy to use interface. Assessment through words can be a lifesaver for many students that are willing to use a cellphone or Google Docs Dictation. Provide audio prompts in which the student can express their responses either in audio format or through dictation software. Android (Google), Apple, and MS Word all provide free dictation applications. Visual assessment helps students to display what they know through images such as graphic novels, comic books, animations, and slideshows.

YouTube, Animoto,  
Snapchat, PPT

Assessment through action can provide student the opportunity to express the mundane of topics into creative masterpieces.

From posters to pottery, even music can be mastered and recorded free online with platforms like Audiotools and Jamstudio.  

Student Choice

This menu section is purposely left blank as an option for future student, parent, and administrative suggestions.



Assessment Design and Student Choice

Designing each menu item for every unit may seem like a daunting task but it really does not have to be. Consider writing a standard test of multiple choice, true and false, essay, short answer, and fill in the blank. The same methodology of thought used for those five separate and distinct assessment options can be translated into the Formative/Summative Assessment Menu items. Designing each unit may have a different number of questions and levels of rigor per menu item. Consequently, students should be prepared to choose 2, 3, or possibly 4 menu items to show complete mastery. Students are more apt to be engaged, motivated, and try their best when they are given choices based on their learning strengths and preferred styles.


For more articles like this check out‘s blog here!

10 Amazing Sensory Spaces

The basic definition of sensory overload is when the brain has issues with responding to information that comes through the seven senses. This means that normal environmental conditions can be a little jarring. It’s a very common condition in many children with ADHD, autism, and other disorders.

For them, a regular classroom could be a little overwhelming. That’s why it’s important to set up sensory spaces.

Sensory spaces are areas where these children can get the stimulation they need but in a certain way. For example, heavy fluorescent lighting can be harmful, so in a sensory space, you would trade it for dimmer lights.

In this article, we’re going to go over that and much more so you can set up your own sensory room in your home or classroom.

1. Post a Schedule Up

Many children benefit by knowing what’s coming up in the schedule next. These visual cues are great for those with autism who suffer from sensory overload. They might not like surprises or sudden changes that come with not having a known schedule.

You can post the schedule up in increments of time, or you can put the entire day’s schedule up at once. Your choice will depend on what you think is best for your kids.

2. Lighting

It’s strange to think that something small as lighting can influence our emotions. Loud, fluorescent lighting can make children feel uncomfortable. They just shine too brightly in their faces.

There are many other ways you can create light in your sensory room without the use of them. One idea is streaming holiday lights across the room. Candles are also a very calming source of light. Lava lamps are visually stimulating because of the light they give off and the motion of the lava slowly moving up and down inside the glass.

Any of these options are a better idea than just flicking on the overhead lights. It’s all about influencing the child’s mood through lights, and you will find a very negative reaction with the fluorescents in most cases.

3. Whiteboard

There are many things that a child can do with a whiteboard. You could set up a section of it that just has a bunch of magnetic letters and numbers. The child could have fun spelling out words, and learn at the same time.

You could also just provide markers and let the child’s imagination run wild. Any of these activities not only stimulate creativity, but also help develop fine motor skills as well.

4. Crash Pad

You can buy a crash pad or make one all on your own. All you need is a zip-up duvet that you can fill with cushiony items like pillows and stuffed animals. The kids will enjoy jumping on them as well as throwing them around.

It’s kind of surprising what kind of stimulation this will provide. It will provide body awareness and is actually pretty soothing.

5. Therapeutic Smells

Like lights, certain smells can incite different moods. For example, a light scent of lavender can leave someone feeling very calm. At the same time, some smells can be overwhelming.

Instead of going with strong sprays, pick up a few candles, incense, or scented oils. These will leave a light fragrance behind.

The child could also benefit from playing with scented toys like playdough. The smell plus the stimulation from the texture of the playdough can be very beneficial to the child.

If the child really responds well to scents, put a little bit of essential oil on a cotton ball and let them have at it.

6. Deep Pressure Items

Some children respond well to high pressure, such as being wrapped tightly in a blanket like a sushi roll. You could also fill up an inflatable pool with stuffed animals, pillows or blankets. They could enjoy snuggling up in it.

You could provide a tunnel that children can not only play in, but grab a blanket and escape in it as well. Being able to get away like this is great for when sensory stimulus becomes too much.

7. Music and Calming Sounds

Music does a lot of interesting things with one’s brain activity. It can change the way we think and feel. This being said, you don’t want to crank the music up to its loudest volume.

There is nothing wrong with lightly playing Celtic music, or calming nature sounds from a stereo or even your phone. This will have a very positive impact on some children.

8. Lego-Wall

Who didn’t like legos when they were children? Letting the children build isn’t only fun, but also promotes creativity and fine motor skills.

When the child is focused on building with legos, they will feel calm and it also provides them with great organization skills. Just be careful not to step on any of them.

9. Swings

Some children with autism and other disorders feel comfort from being able to rock back and forth in a rocking chair or swing. Swings do this by stimulating the child’s vestibular system.

They aren’t too hard to install and most of them come with detailed instructions so you don’t risk putting them up wrongly.

10. Tactile Center

All you need to set up a tactile center is a few containers and sensory materials like rice or sand. The child can stick their hands in the containers and play with it and it’s actually very calming.

Not only is a tactile center calming, but it allows them to develop and work on their fine motor skills.

Sensory Spaces Ideas for Your Students

Sensory spaces are important because they allow children who suffer from sensory overload to escape into a place that is more comfortable. Having coping materials at hand like swings, tactile centers, and deep pressure items can make all the difference for a child who needs it.

To learn more about sensory items and how they can help a child at home or in the classroom, visit our blog.