For years, special education teachers have been leaving the classroom at a higher rate than general education teachers. It's commonly assumed that this is due to issues with students, parents, and the burden of reams of paperwork.
The problem has roots in a different set of issues, Education Week Reports. Special education teachers reportedly feel a lack of support from principles, a lack of respect from their peers, and a burdensome workload, and as a result, they choose to leave the classroom. This has caused a decline in the number of special education teachers to hit 17% over the last decade. The problem is the most severe in rural and urban areas.
Pay Isn't the Problem
Even though higher pay is commonly seen as a strong incentive to recruit and retain educators, less than 6% cited inadequate pay as the reason for leaving. They also didn't indicate that remote locations or paperwork were the problem. The biggest issue appears to be how they are viewed by and partnered with by their general education colleagues.
In addition, the report indicates that as a new special education teacher enters the school culture, a strong relationship between the teacher and the principal can pay big dividends. Not only does that contribute to a sense of belonging, but it helps provide a comforting, anchoring relationship with an authority figure.
A stronger and more productive sense of community as well a smoother onboarding process may help solve the problem. Mentorship programs for newer teachers and actively encouraging partnerships and connections with their general education peers can be essential building blocks in the retention of special education teachers.
As new special education teachers enter a school, expectations can be clearly outlined regarding the curriculum and performance standards. A relationship with the principle should be encouraged, as should productive interactions between the special education teacher and general education teachers. It may also be helpful to augment this support by having paraprofessionals present in classrooms as well.
If you are interested in job opportunities in Special Education, please contact us. If you'd like to learn more about this and related topics, visit the Education and Behavioral Health sections of our blog.
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