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What does it take to be a teacher? Patience, love of children, ingenuity and creativity are attributes that probably top that list. Certainly any good teacher needs those tools in his or her resource kit, but what about special education teachers? Are the skills needed by educators who work with children with special needs so different from mainstream teachers?
Teachers need to be organized! Whether working with exceptional children or children who are more mainstream, teachers need to have their gameplan for the day mapped out. For special education teachers, this is a necessity for their kids as well–a daily schedule with predictability and order can often help children with special needs understand what is expected of them and be more readily able to participate. That being stated, adaptability is also an important characteristic of both the teacher and the special education teacher. Things happen–all children have energy and minds of their own. Meltdowns, defiance–these things happen. Being able to adapt to whatever a child throws at you and respond in an even-tempered way and keep order is important both as a way to maintain a calm classroom for the children but also as a way to model appropriate responses. Having a sense of humor doesn’t hurt! All children can be silly, funny and full of enthusiasm. Having a teacher who shows them it’s okay to laugh at the appropriate times and have fun together is good for both the teacher and the students.
Our list on what it takes to be a good teacher is without question not exhaustive. To a certain extent there is a tension between the field of education and special education–the trends in special education currently are leaning into inclusivity and integration in the classroom. For teachers who did not specialize in special education as undergraduates but are faced with an integrated classroom, the need for an advanced degree in special education may become evident. A solution to that potentially overwhelming realization could be an online Master of Special Education degree, and finding a solid online program is key to achieving a reputable, respected master’s degree and having the flexibility to maintain current employment and family obligations while studying. We’ve done the homework to discover some of the best online master in special education degree programs offered currently, so check out our list to find a program to best fit your needs.