Just like any regular educator aspiring for certification after a rigid education and training process, special education teachers will work with children and youth that possess disabilities. These teachers will assist students of various grade levels in varying ages, sex, and capabilities. There are special education programs in place for these kids to meet their needs and improve their learning.
Before discussing how to become a special education teacher, let’s consider some basic facts about special education.
What Is Special Education?
Special education is personalized to cater the needs of schoolchildren with incapacities. The facilities, amenities, and support a child obtains may vary between kids since their abilities, capabilities, and disabilities are all unique and different. Each child is different, and they have varying needs; therefore, their special education program is modified to fit. The main point here is for children with disabilities to learn and improve in a school setting amidst their physical and mental delays.
Now, special education programs have four groups wherein special education teachers need certification before they can handle such students. The first group is the Early Intervention Program followed by the Early Childhood Special Education Program. The former is a program for children in pre-schooling age or from birth to three years old. When they reach three, the children will then transition to the Early Childhood Special Education Program. This way is to get them ready to start with school.
After that is the Childhood Special Education (from Kinder to Grade 6), and then followed by Secondary Special Education (Junior and Senior High School). When special education students finish 12th Grade, they can move on to post-high school special education programs for more learning. With that, special education teachers will supervise such classes, and they need the appropriate certification.
Special Education Teacher Certification
Earn your Bachelor of Science in Education, Major in Special Education degree first. It will be four years of undergraduate programs in Education if there is no Special Education degree in schools of your state. After that, you can take up Masters in Special Education to qualify for teaching. Rules on this depend upon state laws on education.
You need a Graduate’s degree like Masters in Education or Masters in Special Education. This degree will be an additional study for two years after graduating BS Education, but you can do this while working. Some schools offer classes at night to make way for working professionals. Others allow online studies and again, depending on which state you are planning to teach special education, they have varying rules and requirements.
How To Be A Special Education Teacher In Indiana
In Indiana, an educator must pass the REPA Approved Educator Preparation Programs (focused on Special Education) if you want to teach the same in the state. It can be at a university or through online schooling. Some even choose the hybrid way to finish the degree. You can also concurrently earn your bachelor’s degree and teaching certification in Indiana which is a good thing.
Now, some graduates proceed to teach special education after passing the state certification. Others opt for a Master’s degree and then, continue to Doctorate programs. This way is also possible and will improve one’s credentials. They refer to it as an advanced degree which much also include the programme and work experience necessary to teach special education in Indiana.
Indiana releases three types of educator licenses – Initial Practitioner License for first-time teachers, Proficient Practitioner License for educators who have done internship programs, and Accomplished Practitioner License for teachers who have accomplished a specialized professional development curriculum.
The requirements may vary from one school to another (where you want to practice special education teaching), but the first two mentioned above are the general requisites.