Ten things every special educator wishes you knew


  1. No, we don’t have extra patience. We are specifically trained to work with children with learning and behavior challenges. Teaching students with disabilities is an art and science with a significant amount of research-based practices.
  1. Just because there are less than 10 students in my classroom, it doesn’t mean I’m not extremely busy. Many of those students are all on different levels and struggling with different learning challenges. When I’m not teaching or grading, I’m probably writing IEPs or doing other paperwork.
  1. We have to prepare more lesson plans than almost any other teacher. Not only do we teach numerous subjects, but each student is at a different level, see number 2. We often have one lesson plan for each student for each subject.
  1. We need the regular education teacher at the IEP meeting. We need them to tell us and the parents how typical students perform in the classroom so we know what tasks to modify. It also helps the parents have a basis for comparison. The regular education teacher also needs to give input on reasonable accommodations.
  1. Our kids don’t typically make quick, steady progress. They learn, they regress, they learn again, then forget. Sometimes they don’t make any progress at all for awhile, then surge forward.
  1. We celebrate every single victory! Don’t assume that we do nothing but play in our classrooms because we could be celebrating a small or big victory OR just need a break to be able to get more learning done!!
  1. We do everything within our power for your child. We treat them like our own children within the context of all we know of special education law and regulations.
  1. We get kicked, hit, and bit. We work with kids other teachers are often afraid of. Most importantly, we love these kids and they deserve every chance we can give them. Everyday is a fresh start. 
  1. We are constantly amazed by kids with behavior problems. Some of the most interesting kids we know are those with behavior problems. They are unique and have a huge capacity to love. Their problem behaviors aren’t there every moment and they can be tremendous fun.
  1. We work hard at building trust. Students with emotional and behavioral problems have to trust the adults at school. Once they trust, they will open up and work hard.


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