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What is a special education teacher?

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Quick Answer

Special education teachers instruct students who have physical, mental, emotional or learning disabilities. The subject matter taught is similar to that of mainstream classes, but teaching methods are adapted to the needs of students.

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Special education teachers follow a similar educational path as other teachers. Most public school jobs require a bachelor's degree and a certification or license issued by the state they are employed in. Private schools may not require a license. Degree programs can focus entirely on special education or can be in elementary education with a minor in special education.

The general duties of the job are very similar to those of other teachers. Special education teachers may spend more time assessing the abilities and skills of their students and devising lesson plans that are effective for them. An individual program is also often developed for each student. An emphasis may also be placed on developing life and social skills when students have severe disabilities.

Special education instruction is sometimes mixed with general education instruction in inclusive classrooms. In these settings, special education teachers will usually focus on special education students and work with a general education instructor. Special education instructors may also advise general education instructors in developing lessons plans for students with disabilities.

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