Thursday, June 25, 2009

What’s it like to be a…..Special Education Pre-School Teacher?

What does a normal day look like? Is it consistent throughout the year? If youíve had this position for a while, how have things changed?
I teach 8 preschoolers, aged 2-5, all with disabilities.  They have a variety of disabilities, including autism, physical disabilities, speech impairment, genetic disorders, Down syndrome and others.  The children come for half the day and participate in typical preschool activities, with some adaptations as needed.  Each child has an IEP (Individualized Education Program), which the parents and I develop, to address problems in areas of development (social skills, communication skills, cognitive skills, gross and fine motor skills and adaptive skills).  We work on their delays at school and then I do home visits in the afternoon, coaching parents and working with the children.  Our classroom also has speech therapists, physical therapists, occupational therapists and other specialists also working with the children.  I have two assistants that help to carry out the program.

What other, if any, positions have you held prior to your current job? How did you get to where you are now?
I have been doing this for 21 years.

What kind of training/education did you have?

I have a masters degree in early childhood special education but started working when I just had a bachelorís degree.

What would you suggest?

If you are interested in this type of work, contact your local school and arrange a time to visit a classroom.

What qualifications/skills/attributes make someone successful in this position?

To be successful, you need to be comfortable working with parents, be flexible, have knowledge of child development and disabilities, be able to write and speak professionally and be able to work with children/families from a wide variety of cultures and backgrounds.

What are the rewards in your position?
This job is very rewarding, because you influence a childís development for a lifetime and support parents as they go through the process of learning to deal with a child with disabilities. 

The main challenge is the paperwork required by federal, state and county policies, which takes a lot of time and takes you away from working with the children.

What makes a good day for you?

A great day is seeing a child accomplish something you have been working towards for a long time.

What trends or changes do you foresee in the next 5-10 years?

There will always be a need for special education teachers.  Funding may impact the quality of the program structure in the future.

How could a person find out more about your field?
Contact a university with a teacher preparation program or your local public school to see what they offer for teachers/programs.

Posted by Bonnie Speyers on 06/25 at 09:04 AM

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