Special Education is the practice of teaching students in a way that addresses their individual differences and special needs. It’s often applied to teaching those with intellectual, mental, emotional, behavioral, cognitive, physical, and learning disabilities. It also applies to teaching students with special talents or abilities.
In an education climate where just 17 percent of general-education teachers feel “very well prepared” to teach children with issues like ADHD and dyslexia, the need for quality Special Education skills and knowledge is very important. Teachers who focus on Special Education play an important role in advancing the confidence and success of special-needs students.
There are a wide variety of opportunities available for learners interested in Special Education, from teaching to jobs in healthcare and government. Some roles include Special Education Teachers, Special Education Teacher’s Assistant, Special Education Program Coordinator, Speech Pathologist, Audiologist, Early Intervention Special Educator, Lobbyist, and related specializations.
Courses on Special Education offered through Coursera provide learners with fundamental information on how various common disabilities affect areas of learning, including autism spectrum disorder (ASD); hearing, visual, and intellectual disabilities; ADHD and other learning disabilities; and more.
Lessons in these courses are administered via lectures, readings, quizzes, reflections, and discussions.
An interest in people with physical, emotional, or mental disabilities is the main prerequisite to starting to learn special education. Many people who want to work in special education already have some experience in the field of education, whether they've worked as a teacher, teaching assistant, or daycare worker. You can also gain some experience by volunteering to work with children, particularly children who have special needs. Special education teachers and specialists typically work with children of all ages, ranging from preschool through high school.
People who work in special education need to be patient and even-tempered. Because you'll be working with children or adults with special needs, they may be slower or quicker than average to accomplish tasks. Creativity is also important. Children with special needs may not do well with traditional teaching methods, so you'll need to find unique ways to deliver information. You'll also need to be compassionate and accepting since you'll be working with people who have physical, mental, or emotional disabilities. Like any type of teacher or person who works with children, you'll need to be organized, intuitive, and able to adapt to any situation. It's also important to have a calming presence. Many children, including those with special needs, are overwhelmed by the classroom environment and being away from home. Those who work in a school environment need to be willing to collaborate with a team as well. You'll be working with other teachers, teaching assistants, administrators, and parents to make sure all children receive the best possible education.
Anyone who wants to work with people with special needs and is interested in working in a school setting may be suited to learn about special education. Even if you have a child in your own family with special needs, learning about special education may help you better understand them and even help them advance despite any disabilities. If you've ever thought about becoming an advocate for people with special needs, learning special education and applying it to your career or volunteer work can help you go further. If you're already a teacher or teaching assistant, and you're looking for a way to specialize or advance your career, learning special education can help add new skills to your resume and potentially find more advanced jobs in your field.