A popular Edutopia article explored the loneliness that special education instructors feel on the job. In her op-ed "Easing a Feeling of Professional Isolationism," columnist Jayne Clare explains that being a special ed teacher can feel lonely. The 30-year education veteran said instructors can overcome isolation by connecting with others.
Individualized Education Plans
Some educators believe that special education teachers have an easier job teaching students. They measure pupils' goals using an individualized education program (IEP), but Clare says special education students have diverse needs and challenges that can be draining for these teachers. They focus on the emotional and social skills of their students and also require specialized learning techniques and personal attention to succeed.
The Challenge of Advocating for Special Needs Students
School leaders didn't give Clare the resources she required to teach these young people. She stated that she regularly advocated for her students' needs ,but it was a challenge to get the administration to listen to her concerns. She fought to get students a fair, equal education under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
Another issue that special education teachers face is one of isolation. While general education teachers may hold regular meetings, they typically do not. Instructors can tend to treat special education teachers like outsiders at times and even students question whether they are real teachers. This can ultimately impact their self-worth.
Overcoming Isolation: Build Connections
Clare recommends that special education teachers hold meetings with general education ones. The columnist further suggests that teachers break down terminology during such meetings. For example, explain terms like IEP, Stanine scores, and visual-motor integration. The IEP can help general education teachers deliver better instruction to students.
Clare also suggests hosting professional development courses and team-teaching programs. This will help educators learn about special education strategies and issues. Lastly, the columnist recommends topics that focus on autism, legal issues, assistive technology, and classroom management techniques.
Clare said that mentoring new teachers and volunteering to become a coach to others can also be a way to overcome isolation. Teachers should support one another to help students meet their goals and she believes it will be productive for all instructors.
Staffing Plus can connect schools with qualified special needs practitioners. Please contact us for more information. If interested in learning more about this and related topics, visit the Education and Behavioral Health sections of our blog.
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