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Inclusion vs. Self-Contained Education

In 2014, 2.4 million American public school students were diagnosed with a learning disability, according to the U.S. Department of Education. This number accounts for five percent of our nation’s public school population. Many of these students also have a secondary disability.

Special education teachers work tirelessly addressing these students’ needs. There is no “one size fits all” solution. From teaching methods, to support techniques, to classroom models-special education is a nuanced field.

Evaluation Process and IEP Designation

Under the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA), each student with a disability is entitled to a “free and appropriate public education” in the “least restrictive environment.” In other words, these students have the right to receive necessary adaptations.

In order for a student to receive special education services, he or she must qualify for an Individualized Education Plan (IEP). Special education teachers, parents, school administrators, general education teachers and counselors all play an important role in the IEP process.

Special Education Classroom Models

The type of special education classroom model to which each school adheres impacts the implementation of these individualized plans. The two primary models are inclusion classrooms and self-contained classrooms.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 95 percent of students with disabilities are served in regular schools and 61.2 percent of those students spend 80 percent or more of their time in a general education classroom. Neither inclusion nor self-contained classrooms perfectly address the needs of special education students. Both models have noteworthy benefits and drawbacks.

Inclusion Classroom

In schools that rely on the inclusion classroom model, students with special needs attend class with their general population peers. In a full inclusion classroom, services are brought to the students. Some inclusion schools use a less absolute model called partial inclusion. Under partial inclusion, students spend a portion of their day in a resource room, working with a special education teacher.

Potential Inclusion Classroom Benefits:

  • Strong peer-to-peer interaction, development of meaningful friendships and increased diversity
  • Special needs students are given greater access to the school’s general curriculum, as special education and general education teachers work in tandem
  • Higher expectations may be placed on special needs students
  • Students are not labeled in a way that could decrease their self worth

Potential Inclusion Classroom Drawbacks:

  • In full inclusion classrooms, general education teachers may receive little input from special education teachers
  • The class’ overall academic achievement testing scores may be affected
  • General education and special education students may be deprived of important individualized attention and assistance
  • It may be difficult for a teacher to adequately address the needs of a classroom comprised entirely of special needs learners
  • Special needs students may only encounter their general education peers at lunchtime and recess
  • Social interaction difficulties could become exacerbated
  • There may not be a path available to return a student to a general education classroom

Blanket inclusion classroom policies are not appropriate for severely disabled students

Self-Contained Classroom

Self-contained special education classrooms are typically smaller in size and are led by a teacher with special education certification. Students in self-contained classrooms also receive special support and intervention in adherence with the terms of their IEP.

Potential Self-Contained Classroom Benefits:

  • Some students require more intensive intervention than can be offered in an inclusion classroom
  • Small class sizes foster individualized attention
  • Self-contained classroom special education teachers are uniquely able to account for individualized learning styles
  • Students form close relationships with one teacher

Potential Self-Contained Classroom Drawbacks

  • It may be difficult for a teacher to adequately address the needs of a classroom comprised entirely of special needs learners
  • Special needs students may only encounter their general education peers at lunchtime and recess
  • Social interaction difficulties could become exacerbated
  • There may not be a path available to return a student to a general education classroom

Do you believe one classroom model is superior? Do you find benefit in a hybrid approach? This topic will be one of the many you will explore in greater depth as you embark on your special education career.

2019’s Best Online Special Education Programs For Advancing Your Teaching Career

The United States desperately needs special education teachers and we’re not being dramatic. Out of fifty states, forty-nine of them report not having enough teachers to fit their needs.

In schools that do have special education professionals, eighty percent of them need more help. Creating a different lesson plan for each student isn’t easy and we need more hands on the ground.

But you know that. You’re willing to help solve this issue, and you’re looking into online special education programs. First of all, thank you and second of all, we’re here to help.

We want to do our part in solving the shortage and educating those who are willing to take on the special education challenge. You’re up for a highly-rewarding career with long days filled with warm fuzzies.

Ready to get started? Check out our guide to the best programs below.

Online Special Education Programs: The Criteria

When you search for a program, there are a few things you need to look for. The first and most important one is accreditation.

Imagine that you went through the years of education and work, just to find out your degree isn’t recognized by the state. That would be devastating.

Making sure you do your research before you apply will keep that from happening.

Second, figure out if you want to start a special education program that’s general or very specific. Many people don’t know what specification or specialization they want to pursue until they finish their general education courses.

If you don’t know what part of special education you’re most interested in yet, don’t worry. That’s completely normal.

Choosing Your (Special) Education Path

There are a few different kinds of masters degrees you can get in special education. They differ from school to school.

For Example, you could get a:

  • Masters of Art in Special Education
  • Masters of Science in Special Education
  • Masters in Special Education with an Autism Concentration
  • Masters in Special Education Licensure
  • Masters in Special Education Leadership and Training

The degree you choose depends on your dream workspace and what you want to do when you graduate. If you’re looking to run your own classroom, then a general Master of Special Education is the right degree.

But if you’d like to work in a more specialized setting, or be a helping professional, like an art therapist, pursue the Master of Art. You know yourself best and you should direct your studies towards where your strengths lie.

Finally, what kind of students do you want to work with? As we get more familiar with autism disorders, we’re seeing more autism focus tracks.

But you can also focus on early childhood education for those with disabilities, or preparing people for society.

Jobs You Can Get with a Degree in Special Education

The first job everyone thinks of is a special education teacher. As we already discussed, we desperately need those in America and all over the world.

There aren’t nearly enough teachers for these students who need extra help.

But teaching isn’t the only thing you can do with a masters or bachelors degree in Special Education. Learn more about teaching and other careers below.

Special Education Teacher

If you do choose to go down the common track and become a Special Education teacher, great! We really need you. The job description of a special ed teacher involves helping make a different learning plan for each student.

In some cases, these are called IEP’s or Individual education plans. They’re a collaborative effort between a school psychologist, the teacher and the child’s parents.

They detail the child’s difficulties and the agreed upon strategies to address them.

As a trained teacher you’ll have the choice between working in the public and private sector. If you live in an area with large populations, you may be able to work in a residential or even medical setting.

The salary isn’t much more than a regular teacher, though one could argue that special education teachers do much more.

The average salary is around $58,000 a year.

Language or Speech Pathologist

You’ll have to pursue some extra training than just bachelors if you’d like to be a pathologist, but the special education degree is a good start.

Pathologists specialize in identifying and fixing speech issues and language patterns. They’ll work with a full range of students or clients, including those without learning or developmental disabilities.

They do make more than a special education teacher, but it takes more training to be one. They can expect to make around $76,000 a year starting out.

As a pathologist, you can work in a range of settings. Schools, hospitals, and even rehabilitation clinics. A lot of pathologists find their work immediately rewarding, as you can automatically hear the difference in a child’s voice.

Early Intervention Specialist

If you like working with young children but don’t have the long-term patience of teaching, you can become an early intervention specialist. You’ll still interact with and help children with disabilities, but you’ll work with a wider range than a teacher in one classroom.

As it sounds, early intervention specialists are the people who help identify learning and developmental disorders right as they start. Or before they start, if steps can be taken to prevent it.

Most intervention specialists work on a team at a specialized tutoring center or hospital, though larger schools or school boards may employ their own.

How to Choose Online Special Education Programs

With an idea of the available degree programs and jobs, they lead to, hopefully, you can approach the idea of Special Education programs with more confidence.

You don’t have to know exactly what you want to do and specialize in before you start a program. You can begin many online Special Education programs on a general track and get more specific as you figure things out.

Want to learn more? We’ve done the research and laid out information on the schools we trust. Find our picks here.

3 Reasons Why Schools Should Adopt Restorative Justice Practices

Restorative Justice, What’s That?

Restorative Justice is a topic that continues to gain national attention as both elementary and secondary schools decide how to best deal with student behavioral and discipline issues that occur in today’s schools. The topic focuses on a mindset that aims to help students make restorations to address misconduct instead of resorting to punishing them. It also focuses on teaching and supporting students instead of pushing them away. Interestingly enough, restorative justice is not a mindset supported by all education stakeholders. In fact, some teachers who feel that restorative justice avoids providing discipline to students, remain opposed to this new movement.

Addressing the Problem

School administrators start their days with ambitions of visiting classrooms, completing paperwork, conducting meetings, and communicating with stakeholders. However the stark reality is that many school administrators are bombarded with school discipline issues before they even make it through the office door. They are then often forced to spend time making judgements about whether a student should be suspended or not. This can sometimes be a lengthy process, especially if a school administrator spends 30 minutes on an average office discipline referral. To complicate this process, they may learn that the offending student may currently be exposed to abuse, shows signs of depression, and has had to deal with lack of food or even homelessness earlier in the year. While the student is waiting for the school administrator to determine their fate, they are missing out on key instruction that they so desperately need and the school administrator is kept from accomplishing their own tasks. All of these issues combined paint a picture about school discipline that is not exactly black and white —- which is exactly why Restorative Justice is a better minds

#1. Restorative Justice Improves School Culture

Not only does Restorative Justice address the root of problematic behavior in schools but it also can improve a school’s culture. The opposite of a Restorative Justice program would be one that focuses on “zero tolerance.” A zero tolerance environment focuses on strict rules and even stricter punishments. When school environments are focused on these things, school discipline is largely ineffective. Relationships between students and school staff are often damaged and listening to one another is deemphasized. Because student motivation is a real concern by many educators in today’s schools, making sure that relationships are in good repair between staff and students becomes an essential indicator for school leaders to be concerned about. Students can feel whether their school environment and culture is supportive or not and that’s important because a student’s attitude about their school can impact their academic performance. This is exactly why the method of school-wide discipline must be taken seriously by education stakeholders.

#2. Restorative Justice Builds Healthy Relationships

Restorative Justice builds healthy relationships through a staple practice of conducting community focused circles where students can discuss personal struggles as well as issues that have occurred at school that need attention. This “talk-it-out” strategy focuses on helping students express their feelings and their emotions in a healthy way—something that should always be emphasized by teachers, counselors, and school administrators. School staff can guide these conversations by asking questions and helping students process negative events. It is here where students discover ways to solve problems in a healthy way and take responsibility for their actions. These skills will improve student-to-student relationships as well as student-to-teacher relationships which will ultimately positively impact student achievement.

#3. Restorative Justice Develops Understanding

Restorative justice helps school staff members to focus on understanding students first, which goes a long ways in building trust with the student body. As students develop these listening skills and strengthen their emotional intelligence, they are improving their future employability and the likelihood that they can successfully navigate a career and be a productive member of society. All students have extremely varied experiences at home, in their neighborhood, and at school. Their behavior in these environments is shaped by these experiences. When school staff focuses on gaining insight into each student by listening to their experiences, then stronger relationships are formed and the school staff can focus on addressing the root of the problem—not the negative behavior that ends up manifesting itself at school.

Conclusion: Restorative Justice Gets it Right

Although critics of Restorative Justice make claims that students avoid accountability for their actions in this type of environment, more students are kept in the right environment when Restorative Justice practices are utilized. Restorative Justice does not mean that students who break school rules and compromise the safety of others will not be disciplined, but it does mean that school discipline will not be viewed as a solution to the misbehavior. An educator’s job is not to avoid the problems that students come to school with, but to help fix them. Restorative Justice’s emphasis on teaching students to effectively deal with their problems by improving their listening skills and writing their wrongs continues to build within students a healthy set of skills that will aid them in school and in the future.

See how Restorative Justice also approaches Social Practice, here.

Building a Positive School Culture

What Makes a Good School?

When acquaintances find out that I am an elementary school principal, they invariably ask me about other schools in their own neighborhood and if I would recommend them. My answer to their question is always the same: a school is as good as its culture and the people that work within it. Well, what makes good school culture? Is it when the school principal knows every child’s name? Is it when the lunch room serves their famous peanut butter bars every Friday? Or is it a combination of things that help your school be great? Regardless of what you think makes a good school, here are some great ideas for educators to help improve the culture at your own school.

1. Share Your Story

The old adage,”No news is good news” does not apply to schools. If schools aren’t entirely focused on communicating to the community about the good things that are going on at the school, then the community will assume that nothing good is happening at the school. Schools can communicate their story through social media or some other parent communication platform like Class Dojo. The important thing to remember is to highlight events, school staff, and of course the students! As schools share their story, schools will build a positive culture that will impact everyone. From taking a picture of a student and a teacher who received a special recognition award, to writing a few sentences about the fall festival carnival that the school had the prior week—all “good news” should be shared to build positive school culture.

2. Show School Spirit

Another way to build school culture is to put an emphasis on showing school spirit at your school. Do you incentivize students to wear school colors? Does your school have a mascot that a student can dress up in? Does your school have a school song and do the students know the words? Does your school feature a central piece of artwork like a mosaic or mural that depicts your school motto or something that appeals to children? Does your school have kid-friendly decorations in the halls or does it look like a really old museum? The more a school appeals to its student body and instills a sense of pride about where they go to get their education, then the more a school will build on a strong tradition of success and strengthen school culture.

3. Make it Personal

The last way to build a strong school culture to allow teachers and students the ability to personalize their school to make it home. When was the last time you asked the faculty if they wanted to renovate or update the faculty lounge? Are students allowed to give input on the classroom and which flexible seating options might be available? Are students allowed to provide input on what types of pictures and games are put on the blacktop for students to participate in at recess? When students and teachers spend as much time as they do at school, we owe it to them to provide a place that makes them feel appreciated. At our school we renovated our teachers lounge. We got rid of the horrible and ugly furniture that was dark and looked like your grandma’s basement. Now it is bright colors with blankets and snacks. Teachers were allowed to provide input on the new teachers lounge and it strengthened the positive school culture at our school. When you allow teachers and students to personalize their school environment, then the school turns into “our school.”

Good Culture Takes Time

Positive school culture can be built in a myriad of different ways, but the most important thing that anyone can remember is that building a good culture takes time. Take a walk around your school and see how personalized it is. Go outside at recess to see if students are wearing school colors.I. Ask a random student if they know your school song by heart. If your school is in need of a culture makeover, then be patient and start the culture change today. Your school’s future students will thank you for it!

For more insightful articles like this click here.

5 Jobs in Early Childhood Special Education

A career in special education can be both fulfilling and inspiring. Focusing on roles within early childhood special education can be particularly gratifying, as they provide an opportunity to play a pivotal part in a child’s growth and support at a critical time in their development. 

While working as a special education teacher may be the first option that comes to mind when envisioning jobs in this field, there is a range of professional paths both inside and outside the classroom.

Here are some options for professionals exploring opportunities in early childhood special education.

At-Home Teacher/Tutor 

Not all teaching takes place in a formal classroom setting. For some students, individual circumstances may make it necessary or preferable for them learn at home. Students being home-schooled may also need a trained teacher to augment instruction parents provide. This may appeal if you enjoy teaching but prefer interacting with students on an individual basis.

This role typically requires similar education and training to a classroom teacher, although additional home-schooling certification or other credentials may be required. Pay can vary widely depending on location and whether the teacher is employed through the public school district or a private company. 

The distinction between this role and tutoring is mostly a question of scope, breadth and time commitment.

Tutoring is a great option for special educational professionals who want a less rigid or supplementary work situation. Tutors often have considerable flexibility in deciding when and where they work. These professionals provide help to students who need extra support, generally in more specific concentrations than a teacher’s broader subject instruction. The median pay rate for a tutor is $17.66 according to Payscale.com, although rates can be higher for those with additional training or specializations.

Special Education Advocate

Those who find it fulfilling to champion a worthy cause may want to consider a career as a special education advocate. These professionals represent students and their families, ensuring the students receive educational services they need and to which they are entitled. Advocates often function as a liaison between the student/family and the school district and other organizations that provide special education support services. Payscale.com cites anaverage starting pay rate for educational advocates of $27.75 per hour (though that may be a very small number of reports); such numbers also depend heavily on location, qualifications and other factors.

Special Education Administrator 

Serving as a special education administrator or director might appeal to education professionals who prefer to work in a managerial or administrative role. These staff members are responsible for planning, implementing and overseeing special education programs. A position at this level can affect the education of many students, without actually working in a classroom. 

This type of position typically requires a master’s degree, certification as a supervisor of special education, and/or several years of experience as a special education teacher and/or school administrator. The average pay for a director of special education is $74,412 per year, according to Payscale.com.

Learning Disabilities Teacher Consultant

Serving as a learning disabilities teacher consultant (LDT-C) involves assessing the needs of special education students and creating an educational plan to ensure their individual needs are met. This role can offer the satisfaction of knowing you are having a positive impact on a student’s educational growth, without requiring you to run a classroom every day. Only some school districts employ these professionals, and the positions typically require completion of a graduate-level program, such as the one offered at Monmouth University.

Special Needs Guidance Counselor

Special education counselors often serve the function of a typical guidance counselor, with additional focus on students receiving special education services. They may also perform some of the duties of other special education professionals, such as a teacher consultant. This professional role helps ensure the student’s needs are being met, and coordinates services and support resources they may need to fulfill their academic potential. According to SalaryExpert.com, the salary range for special needs counselors is $25,000 to 44,000 annually, depending on experience.

Note: All salary information collected in June 2017. 

Researching these special education job alternatives can help broaden your horizons when considering a future in this field, or contemplating a transition out of the classroom. Learn more about alternative special education careers and get ready to look for the school that’s right for you.

Do Special Education Teachers Get Paid More?

The United States special education program serves about 7 million students. This means that there are a lot of special education teachers needed for this country to run. That number is increasing and has been for a while. The funding granted to special education programs has also been increasing in the last few years.

Special education is an expanding and rewarding career, but passion doesn’t pay the bills, right? If you want to know what the average salary is for a special education teacher, keep reading. There are several factors that play into this, so we’ll explain everything in the paragraphs below.

General Outlook

Unfortunately, special education teachers are in very short supply. Every state but one is suffering from shortages in special education teachers. The only state that did not report a shortage was Oklahoma. This report was from 2011-12. A similar report from 2017-18 states that only 46 states reported shortages for special education teachers, and that one of them was Oklahoma.

Between these two reports, we can draw two major conclusions. The first is that the teacher shortage has been here for several years already. The second is that, if the crisis is even slowing down at all, it is doing so very slowly.

We may also be spending too little on special education. Many would argue that special education has never been a high priority in many school districts. Many are especially worried given recent political developments.

Many are questioning the qualifications and intentions of Trump’s Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. She has said during interviews that she believes states should decide the rights of a special education student. While there is always a chance that states will rise to the occasion, many don’t believe this will be the case.

If there is any upside to all of this, it’s that special education teachers tend to get paid significantly more than general education teachers at the same grade level. This is true from preschool to high school.

Also, to help combat the teacher shortage, some states have instituted a debt forgiveness program. This program ignores student loan debt for students who study special education or another field where teachers are in high demand.

States

As a general rule, Connecticut and New York tend to be some of the highest-paying states in the country. The pay scale can be confusing because there’s no set rate. Most of it has to do with how much the state itself has and is willing to spend on education. Thus, teachers in poorer states tend to make less.

This is one of the reasons Oklahoma issued their debt forgiveness program. They didn’t have the money to raise the salaries of special education teachers.

The lowest-earning special education preschool teachers in New York will make about $60,000 per year. Compare this to Rhode Island, where the lowest-earning special education teachers will earn roughly $68,000 per year.

However, the top-earning special education preschool teachers in New York can earn nearly $89,000 per year, while the highest-earning special education preschool teachers in Rhode Island will only make about $76,000 per year.

Some states, such as Connecticut, have higher salaries across the spectrum. Others, such as New Mexico offer low salaries.

Grade Level

If this seems confusing already, it only gets more complex from here. Salary tends to fluctuate with grade level. For instance, a preschool special education teacher in Alaska will make at least $65,000 per year.

Meanwhile, an elementary school special education teacher in the same state will earn at least $75,000 per year. This drops down for middle school level teachers. It drops again at the high school level.

Washington drops about $1,000 from preschool to elementary school, and then another few hundred per year in middle school. However, a high school special education teacher in Washington makes at least $1000 more than preschool teachers.

Yet again, New York stands out. In New York, the payscale grows with the grade level, with the preschool teachers earning least and the high school teachers earning the most.

Area of Expertise

A common misconception about special education is that one special education teacher is enough to manage the whole classroom. The truth is that there may be a few teachers for a single classroom in a relatively small school.

With the population and our understanding of psychology advancing, it has become useful to specialize in a specific kind of psychological or developmental condition.

The current trend is to focus on Autism Spectrum Disorder or ASD. For some reason doctors still can’t explain, there seem to be more confirmed cases of autism than ever before.

Most special education teachers tend to work with children whose disabilities are considered mild to moderate. This is considered less stressful than working with those whose disabilities are severe.

Special Education Teachers and the Perks of Being One

Being a special education teacher is a very rewarding career and a very important one at that. It gives you the opportunity to work with a great group of children and be there for people who unfortunately don’t have a lot of other people on their side.

Of course, it doesn’t hurt that the pay tends to be better than for most teachers.

If you want to know more about special education and its various ins and outs, please visit our site. We will tell you about some of the career options out there for someone with a special education degree. We will also help you learn about some of the best places to earn an online special education degree.

Top Paying States for Special Education Teachers

It’s a harrowing but unfortunately all too true reality: 49 states are currently facing a severe shortage of special education teachers.

If you’re considering getting into the field, you likely already know that this national shortage means you’ll be in high demand. Still, the reality is that becoming a special education teacher is as challenging as it is rewarding.

Schools are certainly aware of this — and they’re using salaries as a convincing incentive to encourage more people to get into the profession.

So, what are the top paying states for those entering into the field of special education?

Keep on reading this post to find out.

We’ll also let you know how you can set out on the right career path to become a special ed teacher — and begin making a difference in the lives of your students and their families.

If You’re Teaching at the Preschool Level

First of all, let’s take a look at the top paying states for special education teachers who plan to work at the preschool level.

As you’ve likely expected, working with children who are often too young to completely express themselves regardless of their learning differences can be a challenge.

You’ll need to be intuitive, able to think on your feet, resolve issues that come up between other students, and have lots of patience.

However, working with young children who have special needs is also an incredibly heartwarming and professionally rewarding experience. Many special education teachers get their start by teaching preschool children on a part-time or full-time basis, moving onto older children as their careers advance.

Still, in some states, the salaries are quite competitive.

If you work in Connecticut, you’ll earn an average yearly salary of around $72,000. However, in some places in the state, you can earn as much as nearly $94,000.

You should also consider working in Oregon. The average salary there is close to $74,400, while some teachers in special education can earn up to $90,000 teaching preschool-aged children.

Teaching Special Education at the Elementary Level

Now, let’s examine the potential salaries of special education teachers who work elementary school students.

In most cases, this means working with children who are in kindergarten all the way up to the fifth grade (though it may vary depending on the specific school.)

It’s important that you compare the cost of living in the state where you plan on teaching with the average salary. Remember that what might be tough to live on in one state could be a very competitive salary in another.

Interestingly, special ed teachers who work in Arkansas receive a wonderful salary of anywhere from $75,000-$92,000. Especially when the median income is around $40,000 in Arkansas, you’ll be more than comfortable on your special education salary.

Connecticut also tops the list. You can earn up to $97,000 annually, with the average salary of a special ed teacher at the elementary level resting at nearly $80,000.

The Top Paying States at the Middle School Level

So, what can you earn as a special education teacher at the middle school level?

Given that middle school is a notoriously challenging time for students of all abilities, it makes sense that you can expect some competitive salaries.

When it comes to the middle school level, New York offers the highest rates of pay. The average special education middle school teacher earns about $74,000 a year. In some cases, especially within the independent school system, they can earn over $96,000 as an annual salary.

California also offers some of the top salaries, with an average of close to $69,000 all the way up to $83,000.

Finally, Arkansas makes the list again, with the average salary hovering close to $75,000 and going all the way up to about $92,000.

Special Education Teachers at the High School Level

Finally, let’s examine what you can expect to make if you want to teach special education at the high school level.

The academic and, even more so, social demands of teaching high school special education courses are much more rigorous. However, you’ll also have the wonderful chance to get to know your students on a deep and fulfilling level.

You’re not just teaching them the core subjects. You’ll also be helping them to learn more about who they are as people — outside of just their differences and disabilities.

Teaching at the high school level will also offer you the highest pay rates as a special education professional.

Again, New York and Connecticut offer the highest average salaries.

In New York, you’ll earn an average of $76,000 per year — though you can fairly easily earn up to $100,500. In Connecticut, you’ll earn an average of about $77,000 when it comes to your salary. However, some special ed teachers have earned close to $93,000.

Additionally, Illinois offers competitive salaries. If you want to teach there, you’ll earn an average of about $63,000 per year. However, you could end up earning well over $83,000.

We Need More Special Education Teachers: Are You Ready to Become One?

We hope that this post has helped you to better understand the top paying states when it comes to working as a special education professional.

Are you ready to find the career of your dreams as a special education teacher? Would you like to learn more about how you find an online school where you can earn your Master’s in special education?

Need tips and tricks when it comes to classroom management, teacher burnout, learning sign language, and much more?

We’ve got you covered.

Let our website serve as your ultimate guide to every step of your career in special education.

Creating a Safe Environment for Youth with Special Health Needs

Approximately 6.7 million students in public schools have special health needs. These students require teachers who are aware of and prepared to address learning difficulties and unique personal challenges. Most children along the autism spectrum just need patience and a safe environment to learn.

Keeping all kids safe is a priority, but dealing with those with special needs requires a bit more preparation. If not, you’ll get burned out quickly having to constantly correct and redirect them away from trouble. Exploration doesn’t need to be stunted just because their behavior is a challenge.

Follow these steps to create a safe environment for all children with special needs.

Think Like a Child

This is probably easier for some than others but bear with us here. Take a survey of the spaces that the children will be learning in. Get down on your hands and knees if you’ll be teaching crawlers. Look at all the potential hazards that children could come into contact with.

Child-safe outlets, shakey tables, curtains, and appliances are all potential accidents for children with special health needs. Their judgment of tall objects or stability should be erred on the safe side.

Organize and Visualize

Defining boundaries can be a struggle for kids along the spectrum. Even if it may be difficult to teach them, you should try your best to advertise boundaries. You can do this by designated specific areas for playtime, naptime, snack time, and special activities.

Store your supplies in their own compartments at opposite ends of the room. Further identify these areas by using labels, colored zones, and audio cues. Children who cannot read yet will be able to associate these physical locations with specific times of accessing them.

Eliminate Escapes

Children with special needs will need equal amounts of structure and space. These spaces should exclude long hallways and isles that can present tripping hazards. Long narrow spaces just have too much potential for injury.

You should try to place roadblocks at the entrances of hallways. A small gate should be used for crawlers and older children alike. You can also fill hallways and isles with tables and furniture that discourage running.

Teach to the Senses

It’s worth elaborating that teaching kids with special needs has to be done outside the text. Even kids who aren’t diagnosed with special needs know the importance of mixed methods of teaching. Most of us need to learn with hands-on experiences, rather than reading out of a book.

That means lesson plans need to be creative, engaging, and not centered around doing “classwork”. Sometimes lessons need to be taught through song, dance, painting, or puzzle-solving. There should be multiple versions of these lessons to appeal to all types of special needs personalities.

Tactile Feedback

Touch is such a powerful sense for children born with special learning needs. They are more sensitive to touch and interactions with certain textures can generate various emotions. The act of squeezing and grabbing a stuffed animal, for example, is very calming and therapeutic.

You should utilize their favorite stuffed animals and toys as a method of associating learning with safety. Retaining the attention of special needs children is a delicate balance of tactile cues and positive reinforcement.

Choosing Toys and Supplies

Having the right combination of toys and learning supplies helps makes your job easier as a teacher. Overall, you should aim for a good variety of toys and supplies to keep the mind stimulated. Arts and crafts supplies are very important, as are blocks and puzzles.

Make sure all of your toys and supplies are tested among special needs children. There’s a lot of good resources that you can find written by parents who can make suggestions based on their experiences. This is very helpful when deciding on age-appropriate toys and supplies.

Most products are labeled with ages and learning levels that are often difficult to translate for special needs age groups. We recommend teaching children how to use new toys and supplies through demonstration, but with moderation.

Sometimes trying to do things the intended way only can be frustrating for children with special needs and generate anxiety.

Give Choices and Alternatives

Kids will know what’s best for them if you give them choices. Your lesson plans shouldn’t be rigid. Special needs children will feel trapped if they aren’t happy with their activities. This is where you’ll find the source of many tantrums and acting out of turn.

There needs to be a sense of freedom with every activity and the ability to switch to a different plan altogether if needed. Your space should also include a designated area for deescalating situations. It can be a small bedroom or any space that is quiet, filled with soft items, and dim lighting.

Never Lose Composure

Children can tell when you’re stressed, frustrated, or angry. Special needs children are especially sensitive to projected emotions. You need to always be positive and never let children adopt a negative attitude towards your environment.

As soon as they start to associate your space with negative experiences, you’ll need to do your best to diagnose why that is and fix it. We’re not saying you have to spoil them or ignore bad behavior. Children with special needs can learn consequences without needing to be directly punished, it just requires some creative engineering.

Careers Dealing with Special Health Needs

Yes, dealing with children that have special health needs is challenging, but it is equally rewarding. If you’re compassionate and love making a difference in others’ lives, there is a growing need for special education teachers. As we learn more about those with special needs, the way we teach them improves.

If you’re interested in learning more about the career paths available, take a look at these five special education jobs in demand right now. The benefits of this life-long career of helping others extend beyond what is written on paper. Find the job that you look forward to waking up to every day and never look back.

Helping Teachers Recharge

Energy Level: Low or High?

As a school administrator, I conduct interviews each year to fill holes in the ever-evolving faculty at our school. Each time I meet a teacher candidate, I ask them many difficult questions about teaching pedagogy, classroom management, and lesson planning, however what I am really looking for is passion and energy. Have you ever met a teacher that absolutely loves teaching and wants to make a difference in the world? Their energy is contagious! A school administrator is always hopeful that this energy will rub off on any teachers who may forgotten why they became teachers in the first place. According to Shawn Achor‘s book “The Happiness Advantage,” your attitude can have a huge impact on how successful you will be in your given profession. Hiring passionate teachers can give your faculty a shot in the arm, but how can we help teachers who may be succumbing to the stress of the job?

Mindfullness

As students deal with an increasingly stressful environments at home and school, programs like mindful schools have found their way into many American schools. According to www.mindfulschools.org, students are bombarded with toxic stress in today’s schools, but what about teachers? I would argue that with the demands that are placed on teachers in today’s classrooms that they need this type of program as much as the students do. Teachers will be unable to maintain a healthy level of passion for teaching if they do not employ strategies to deal with the stress that comes with the job. Shawn Achor recommends at least 5 minutes of daily meditation to raise levels of happiness, lower your stress, and even improve your immune system function.

Faculty Room Safe Haven

The faculty room is an important place in every school. This is where teachers come to diffuse some of the tense situations that they have been dealing with during the day. Our school’s faculty room was clean and functional, however some adjectives that new teachers had used to describe it have been subpar to say the least; “dark,” “a cabin,” “a dungeon,” and “Napoleon Dynamite’s basement.” No matter how you cut it, we understood that we needed to make a change. As we updated furniture, color, and other design aspects, we contemplated the question, “What kind of faculty room will reinvigorate our staff to go back outside and do their jobs with passion?” Our faculty decided to get rid of some furniture to simplify and organize the room. Next, they put up inspirational messages for teachers to view about teaching. Shawn Achor calls this “infusing positivity into your surroundings.” Now we hope our faculty room will be described as “fresh,” “positive,” and “fun.”

Random Acts of Kindness

My dad used to tell me as a kid that if I appeared unhappy, that it was because I was to busy thinking about myself. His advice has stuck with me to this day. Whenever I feel stressed, overwhelmed, and generally unhappy, my first go-to activity is to complete some random act of kindness. It can be giving a friend or family member a kind note, paying for someone’s groceries, or even providing people you work with an unexpected treat. This same strategy can be implemented in school settings with teachers and if you can create a culture where teachers perform random acts of kindness with each other, then your school will definitely be on their way to creating an environment that help your staff recharge.

Maintaining the Advantage

Ensuring that teachers deal with stress effectively while working in a positive environment, will help teachers maintain the competitive advantage that happy workers enjoy. Stress will never go away, so it is imperative that teachers understand effective strategies to mitigate the negative effects of stress in their lives. If teachers can develop habits to utilize strategies like these, then their battery will be recharged, their smiles will always be genuine, and their passion for teaching students will always be there.

To read more articles like this, go to Special Education Career’s Blog.

5 Benefits of Earning Your Master’s in Special Education in 2019

Anyone who has worked with students with disabilities knows what a rewarding and enriching experience it can be.

And anyone who is the parent of a child with a disability knows how crucial it is for their teachers and care providers to be highly trained and committed to the important work they do.

Paraprofessionals or teacher’s aids helping in the classroom work one-on-one with students to make sure they’re getting their needs met. They keep the classroom running safely and smoothly.

Unfortunately, these type of careers are not always available, and can be difficult to support a family on these wages.

If this hits home for you, it might be time to take the next step in your career.

If you have been considering going back to school to work on your master’s degree, now is a better time than ever to take that exciting leap.

Keep reading to hear our top five reasons why working on your master’s degree in 2019 will be the best decision of your life.

1. The Opportunity to Make a Greater Impact

If you’re already working in the field of special education, chances are you’re committed to sticking with it.

The connections you form with your students and the fulfillment you get from your work can be impossible to find in other career fields. But you can only get so far with only a bachelor’s degree.

Studies have found that the advanced knowledge you get from a master’s program can provide you with the skills to have a more far-reaching and long-lasting impact on the communities you work in.

If you’re not already working in the field, that doesn’t mean you’re not a great candidate. Maybe you have a friend or family member with a disability, who has inspired you to want to pursue this type of work.

Maybe you’re simply drawn to it out of passion and curiosity to learn different methods of teaching. Perhaps you’d like to have the opportunity to work with students with diverse needs and backgrounds.

Whatever your motivation for wanting to pursue an advanced degree in the field, chances are that there’s a master’s program out there that is a great fit for you.

2. Versatility in Career Options

There are more than 6.7 million students with disabilities attending schools throughout the country. That means that there are a wide array of areas where people with advanced training are needed.

There is a career out there that is perfectly suited to your strengths and interests.

Earning your master’s degree is the first stepping stone down the path of being able to find the most fulfilling work possible.

There are so many opportunities available, some of which include:

ABA Specialist

Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) is the leading therapy for students with autism. Advanced knowledge of the science behind this method is essential. The training you’ll receive from your degree is crucial to being able to create the best learning plans possible.

Educational Diagnostician

The first step to being able to provide the best education for students is being able to perform the right tests to assess their disability. A career in special education testing lets you work with a wide range of students who are just starting out on their journey.

Special Education Teacher

Whether you’re interested in working in a public or private school, with elementary school children or young adults, there is a wide range of special education teaching opportunities out there.

Special Education Specialist

For some students, the services provided in the classroom are not enough to meet their needs, and additional support might be necessary. Specialists have skills in specialized areas, such as sign language, to be able to meet the needs of every student.

This is only a quick glimpse of the possible options for an exciting career in special education.

3. Personal Growth and Fulfillment

In our disconnected and challenging world, it can often feel like we are alone in the universe. But providing support to students with disabilities can make you feel fulfilled in a way that you may not find elsewhere.

The knowledge you’ll get from a master’s program will give you great possibilities for personal growth and enrichment.

Education conferences, talks, trainings, seminars, podcasts, and other professional development opportunities will be available to you throughout the span your career.

Special education is a field where you never have to stop learning, growing, and expanding your horizons.

4. Revolutionizing the Classroom

We are truly living in the digital age.

Now more than ever, technological advances are redefining how children interact with learning materials in the classroom. And this is especially applicable in special education.

Communication devices are becoming more advanced. They allow nonverbal students to communicate their needs and ideas in ways they weren’t able to in the past.

Tablets provide engaging opportunities for growth and development.

Technology grows exponentially, so it’s impossible to predict what the classroom will look like in 5 or 10 years!

A career in special education allows you to be on the cutting edge of this exciting era. You’ll get to implement the latest tech advances to give your students the best learning experience possible.

5. Your Salary Will Be Worth the Investment

There’s no question that having a master’s degree allows you to earn a more competitive salary. According to the US Census Bureau, people with master’s degrees earn an average of 30% more than those with a bachelor’s.

And that percentage is even higher for people working in the special education field.

On average, people with a master’s degree working in special education make between $60,000 and $65,000. That can be as much as double what a paraprofessional or teacher’s aid is earning.

So the investment that you make in your education will most definitely pay off in the long run.

The Sky is the Limit With a Master’s Degree in Special Education

If you are ready to start impacting your community in a meaningful way then it’s time to start looking into what master’s program is right for you.

We are here to support you in taking this exciting and possibly intimidating step.

So please don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions you might have along the way.

And don’t forget to check out our blog to stay on top of the latest news and information about the rewarding field of special education.