Special Education: The Pathway to a Better Future

To Hire or Not to Hire?

As a school administrator, each year I am faced with a daunting question: Who will I hire to replace a workforce that constantly shifts as teachers retire, resign, or change schools? I often spend many hours sifting through mountains of resumes, calling schools for references, and analyzing the teaching experience of the candidates. As once previously stated by my local district superintendent, hiring well is the most important thing that a school administrator can do. So what can you do to make your way to the top of the interview short list?

Special Education: A Proven Edge

In interviews that I conduct, I often ask candidates what talents or special skills do they have that set them apart from other candidates. Without nurturing any bias after experiencing a childhood with a mother who was a special education teacher, I can honestly say that special education experience is one item that I pay close attention to because of it’s positive impact on the development of crucial skills that teachers need. If you’re looking for a way to provide yourself an edge against other candidates, special education experience is the answer. Here’s four reasons why.

Reason #1: Classroom Management

One of the most common areas that teachers can struggle with is classroom management. This is not just a problem for new teachers because an experienced classroom teacher may have several years experiencing classes with predominantly good behavior and then they are dealt a class that may challenge their classroom management skills. Many special education students have extreme behaviors that force special education teachers to learn these skills quickly and employ them effectively. Special education teachers hone their classroom management skills in a way that takes regular education teachers many years to duplicate. For this reason, special education teachers often have more behavior management techniques in their bag of tricks for dealing with difficult behaviors.

Reason #2: Differentiation

No one knows that students learn differently as well as special education teachers. They often end up teaching students who don’t fit the mold of “traditional education.” Special education teachers often have to come up with unique ways to teach and assess their students based on the needs of the child. This impacts how they run their classroom. In contrast to regular education classrooms, special education classrooms must be taught in small groups so that they can address the diversity of their learners. Instead of a “one size fits all” mentality, special education teachers develop their ability to customize education to each individual student.

Reason #3: Data

Often regular education teachers balk when I ask them to justify a teaching decision based on data. They ask, “You mean we need to track everything?” Much to some educators’ dismay, formative data collection and usage are integral parts to being an effective educator. Some teachers are inexperienced with analyzing data and using it in their classrooms, but not special education teachers who are often required to provide quarterly progress monitoring data to parents about whether their student is achieving their education goals or not. It is this level of experience with data that makes special education teachers a cut above the rest.

Reason #4: Understanding the Special Education Process

What is an IEP? How can a child that we suspect has a disability qualify for additional support? What does a special education referral process entail? Knowing the answers to these questions can put a teacher at a significant advantage and alleviate job stress. Special education teachers have the know-how about what it takes for students to qualify for special education services as well as experience with assessing and providing interventions to struggling students to determine eligibility.

Special Education: A Distinct Advantage

Whether you’re a college student who has committed to studying education for their undergraduate degree or whether you are someone who is already in the education field that is looking to further your own career path choices, special education has the ability to make you a more sought after candidate and increase the likelihood of landing a job in education that you’ve always wanted. It provides you an opportunity to develop the skills that are most needed in education today, while making you an asset to your team and to your local education agency.

Can You Get a Teaching Certificate Online?

Having a bachelor’s degree doesn’t necessarily mean you can be a teacher. Getting a teaching certificate signifies that you have voluntarily gone much further in your pursuit to become a professional educator and that you have the skills needed to change students’ lives for the better. But what about an online teaching certificate?

Getting your teaching certificate online is equally as valid and valuable as earning one on-campus at a brick-and-mortar college or university. As long as you receive your online teaching certificate from an accredited institute you’ll have the same opportunities as someone who earned a teaching certificate the traditional way. Online teaching certificate programs also have several advantages over traditional certification programs, including the ability to:

  • Work comfortably at your own pace
  • Complete assignments and exams anywhere with an Internet connection
  • Earn your teaching certification while working full-time
  • Network with online learners around the country

Can you get a teaching certificate online? Yes. Should you get a teaching certificate online? If you have a busy schedule and want to change or advance your career without putting your life on hold, the online option is worth considering.

To help you make the decision, here’s a look at some of the requirements for earning your teaching certificate online. Additionally, there’s a bonus look at some other advanced teaching certifications worth pursuing if your aim is to become a leader in the education field.

Bachelor’s Degree Requirement

There are many requirements to become a teacher, and each state has its own unique criteria. All states require a minimum of a bachelor’s degree, but the major requirements vary based on the level and subject you wish to teach. Likewise, most online teaching certificate programs also require a bachelor’s degree or higher from an accredited college or university to enroll.

Student Teaching Field Experiences

Online teaching certificate programs offer more flexibility and convenience than on-campus, brick-and-mortar certificate programs. However, candidates seeking teaching certification online may still be required to complete approved and documented field mentorship experiences.

These student teaching experiences usually take place at the end of the program after students have completed all required online coursework. Check with the program you are interested in to find out whether you will be placed in a classroom or will need to set up your own field experience.

Advanced Teaching Certifications

In addition to basic online teaching certificates, there are advanced teaching certifications that can accelerate your career and increase your earning potential as an educator. The National Board Certification, for example, is an advanced teaching credential offered by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards.

Becoming National Board Certified complements a state’s teacher license. Candidates must hold a bachelor’s degree and have three full years of teaching experience as a state-licensed teacher. If you have teaching experience in a state where a license is not required, you must have taught in a school recognized and approved by the state.

Another advanced teaching certification is the Wilson Reading System® Certification. This program equips educators with the skills needed to help students become fluent, independent readers. WRS Level 1 Certification will complement your teaching certificate by preparing you to teach foundational reading and writing skills to children, teens and adults. Furthermore, WRS Level 1 Certification can pave the way for additional career opportunities in teaching as a Reading Specialist, Reading Therapist or Private Literacy Coach.

Take the First Step Toward Becoming a Teacher

If you’re passionate about becoming a teacher, the Online Accelerated Teacher Certification program from Saint Joseph’s University can help you earn your secondary teaching certificate (grades 7 – 12) in just four online semesters. Students can also take two elective courses to receive certification and a Master’s Degree in Secondary Education.

To learn more, call 866-758-7670 or request more information.

Special Education Career Profile: Teacher of the Deaf

Teaching in the field of special education can give you a variety of career options. You can choose age/grade level, type of disability, or even the type of program you teach in. Being a teacher of the deaf can be a very rewarding, yet challenging, career choice.

What Does A Teacher of the Deaf Do?

The role of the teacher of the deaf can vary depending on the setting. According to American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) and the Council on Education of the Deaf (CED), the teacher’s role is to:

  • Establish a classroom or other learning environment to meet the physical, cognitive, cultural, linguistic, and communicative needs of the child;
  • Plan and utilize strategies, appropriate materials, and resources for implementing educational experiences that support the development of communicative competence;
  • Provide consistent comprehensible language(s) appropriate to the needs of the child regardless of the modality or form;
  • Apply first and second language teaching strategies to teaching English (e.g., through ASL appropriate to the needs of the child and consistent with the program philosophy);
  • Facilitate and support communication among deaf and hard of hearing children and adults, hearing children and adults, including family/caregivers;
  • Monitor and evaluate the child’s communicative competence on a regular basis in academic and nonacademic contexts including the child’s use of signs, cues, speech, and/or assistive technologies;
  • Provide instruction and/or support for effective use of communication supports such as interpreting, transliteration, note-taking, real-time captioning, telecommunications, and computing.

Teacher of the Deaf Responsibilities, Knowledge and Skills

As a teacher of the deaf, you should have a working knowledge of hearing aids, cochlear implants, FM equipment, as well as understand and be able to interpret audiograms. You may have to share this information with school staff members or families. You may also have to and supervise paraprofessionals and sign language interpreters.

As with any special education teacher, you will have to develop and maintain compliant IEP‘s as well as assess students in the areas of academics, language, and communication.

Where Teachers of the Deaf Work

Young elementary school student signing the letter I for the class.There are a few educational options to where a teacher of the deaf can teach. All fifty states have schools for the deaf, as well as District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.

Students with hearing loss may also attend public schools. In areas where there is a high population of deaf students, there may be center schools for the deaf. Students are bussed in from several areas to one specific school.

A teacher of the deaf may either provide instruction and support in a separate class or as a resource teacher in a general education or special education classroom.

Deaf students may also attend their neighborhood school. If this is the case, the student may be the only deaf student at the school. Here, an itinerant teacher may be utilized. Itinerant teachers generally cover several schools in an area and provide one on one support to the student as well as collaborate with the classroom teacher.

Classroom or resource teachers serve students in a specific age range, where itinerant teachers tend to cover students pre-k through 12th grade.

Salary, Education and Certification

Certification for a teacher of the deaf varies from state to state. There are several colleges that offer bachelor and master degrees in education of the deaf. While you don’t have to have a degree in deaf education, you must be able to pass the state certification test. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary is $53,220.

If you are looking for a career where you can support students’ communication needs, as well as their academic, social, and independent functioning needs, work with parents and professionals on understanding hearing loss, and have a variety of classroom settings to work in, then you should consider becoming a teacher of the deaf.