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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15 thoughts on “Ten things every special educator wishes you knew

  1. I love your 10 things special educators want you to know. All were perfect except for #4…… The term “Regular” education teachers should be changed to “General” education teachers. Reason being, if they are “Regular” teachers, then we special education teachers are “Irregular” teachers. Thanks !


  2. I find it interesting you have to clarify this. I assumed everyone would know how amazingly difficult it would be to teach 14 (SDC in CA) students. My son has so many accomodations due to memory, executive function, dyslexia and APD, I can’t add him to the burden a SDC teacher has in her class. So I home school rather than burden you with my son. I know how impossibly difficult your job is. I didn’t realize other’s didn’t know. Keep up the educating!!


  3. With over 12 years in the field, I have had the unique pleasure of teaching a child from every disability area identified under IDEA. However, my speciality lies with Autism and other behavior disorders. You hit the nail right on with these top 10! Love Love Love it!!!!


  4. I’m a regular or general ed teacher. I teach the same students in a class of 30 & I’m expected to get these precious children to learn at the same rate as all others in the class. If they can’t read in a class of 10, they can’t read in my class either. If they make progress and regress, I can’t regress with them. It’s frustrating.


  5.  If only more people were aware of these challenges. This is a tough field. My daughter was taught well, but the teachers were exceedingly very educated in their field.


  6. I volunteered with special ed kids and they can be very challenging. I have watched these educators go above and beyond to give these special kids the time they deserve, just as their peers do. Please support education for All children and observe what really goes on in the classrooms. Ask questions on why things are done and what should you be doing as a parent, you wont regret it. THANK YOU EDUCATORS AND PARAS.


  7. I’ve been in the field of Autism for 15 years. I feel like you’ve peeked inside my brain. This should be required reading for all ged ed teachers and student teachers.


  8. My daughter, Beth Tuten, has been a special education teacher for many years. She loves her children and does all she can to promote their level of education and independence. I am very proud of all she does and has accomplished!!


  9. My previous comment has vanished.
    Many kids are wrongly classified as dyslexic when in fact they are instructional casualties.
    If we teach children correctly in kindergarten there will be fewer kids who leave school as illiterates.


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