Teaching is a stressful profession by nature, but it is even more so in the field of special education. Working with special needs students is a challenging situation even for those teachers with a lot of academic and real-life preparation. In this blog, we will have a look at the various challenges that the special needs educator might face from the students under his/her tutelage, which the learners of the online ADHD certification courses for teachers should know about before they start their teaching career.
In the following lines, let’s have a look at the various types of challenges for a special needs educator.
1. High Attrition Rate
High-stress professions are plagued by high burn-out rates, and educators are not exempt from this situation. Teachers who deal directly with the special needs population face situations that challenge their confidence, self-control and personal choices, including that of choosing to go into teaching. The attrition rate in this field is remarkably high compared to other professions. Compared to general education teachers, special education teachers are twice as likely to leave the profession based on annual attrition rates. This is something which should be kept in consideration by the learners of the online ADHD certification courses for teachers before they start their career.
2. Identifying the Stressors
Heavy workloads can be a drag on teachers’ time and resources. However, in the case of special education teachers, the emotional aspect contributes to high turnovers in a job that is mentally and physically demanding. Finding a positive, healthy outlet for stress is a key element in relieving the less than positive aspects of a trying career as a special education teacher. Often exercise and creative pursuits (like painting, writing, reading, etc) are great for helping alleviate stress. Talking with other professionals – like colleagues or even therapists – also helps. Sometimes even taking a day or even hour is good at keeping stress under control. And as hard as it may seem, staying positive and in the moment is perhaps a special education teacher’s greatest means of keeping stress at bay, which is a must to follow for the future special educators to avoid burnout.
3. Achievement Testing
In an educational system that measures teachers’ competencies based on students’ achievements on standardized tests, special education teachers are underappreciated because their students are typically exempt from these requirements. Special needs students cannot be assessed on the same standards as traditional students, and special education teachers should not be held to the same measure either. These teachers, as are all teachers, are operating on overdrive to cope with the demands of the children they teach and the system should reward these efforts rather than marginalize them. However hard it may be, a lot is expected of the special educators and the learners of the online ADHD certification courses for teachers should understand that.
4. Different Skill Levels within a Classroom
In an integrated classroom, special needs students receive extra support through paraprofessionals or teaching assistants who are assigned to the classroom. In a special education classroom, the children will have different capabilities and disabilities. The teacher is expected to create an environment that is conducive to learning and supportive of all students regardless of their skills and mobility level. Each student should have an individual education plan or IEP as required by federal laws. Special education teachers should follow the requirements outlined in the Individualized Education Program (IEP) regardless of the classroom format. This is very important for a future special needs educator to inculcate and implement to create an environment conducive for the development of the overall teaching-learning procedure.
5. Managing Children with Behavioural Issues
Children with special abilities require sensitive yet firm attention. They are prone to overstimulation and are easily upset over stressors that would be minor annoyances to other children. The learners of the online ADHD certification courses for teachers must learn how to make sure to have a calm-down area in the classroom. This section should provide a safe yet comforting atmosphere to allow students to find their balance. It should not seem like a time-out corner but rather one that is cozy and peaceful. This way, the special needs teachers can carry on with the rest of the class even in the face of distractions.
6. Documenting the Issues
Children react differently to different circumstances. Special needs children express anger, sadness, joy and other emotions just as well as other children although the triggers may be less obvious. It is important to document these instances judiciously to understand the factors that may trigger aggression and emotional breakdowns for a special educator, which he or she should learn about during his/her time as a learner of the online ADHD certification courses for teachers. These records may also be useful to counsellors and parents.
7. Consistent Schedules
Various studies have shown that special needs children thrive in an environment that respects their patterns and need for consistency. A minor change in the pattern of activities can be upsetting to special students. The future special educator should learn the technique to make sure to create classroom schedules ahead of time and maintain a pattern of activities that children can easily get used to while ensuring a calm atmosphere.
8. Parent Engagement
Communication channels between parents and teachers of students with special needs and abilities should be open, honest and supportive at all times. The future special needs educators should learn how to communicate by phone, email or written notes to provide parents with an update on their child’s progress or an insight into the child’s behaviour patterns. The learners of the online ADHD certification courses for teachers should also learn how to encourage parents to keep teachers informed about any factors that may be affecting their child’s temperaments.
9. Fostering a Collaborative Environment
Special education teachers are at the front line of a very trying function: educating and nurturing learning disabled children. This is a task that requires patience, persistence and dedication. The learners of the online ADHD certification courses for teachers should learn the technique to make the most of available resources, including tapping into the expertise of general education teachers, therapists, counsellors and administrative support. Collaboration generates creative solutions while lightening the burden on special education teachers.
There are several challenges that a future special educator might have to face but that should not dampen the spirit of hard work and helping the special children towards a better future. The aforementioned problems and their prescribed solutions can be indeed very helpful for the learners of the online ADHD certification courses for teachers which they should be familiar with before they start their tenure as special needs educators.
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