I had always known that I wanted to be a teacher, but I didn’t know that a Special Education teacher is where my heart was.
At first, I started out wanting to teach Kindergarten. Then it turned into a high school math teacher. However, when I enrolled in college, I chose Special Education.
I always knew I had a love for people with disabilities, and I enjoyed volunteering for Special Olympics every year in high school.
I also knew that whenever I worked with kids with disabilities, I always felt like I was making a difference. It was that feeling that fueled my fire and helped me decide on Special Education as a major.
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I knew the rewarding parts, but no one prepared me for the not so satisfying parts.
Let’s talk about the top five stressors that Special Education teachers face. I don’t want to highlight them to discourage future special educators.
Instead, I want to encourage special education teachers by informing them on how to deal with the stressors.
Top 5 Stressors of a Special Education Teacher & How to Deal
1. Lack of Appreciation-.
Burnout is a prevalent issue among all education positions, but it is arguably the hardest in special education.
It is common knowledge that Special Education teachers face some of the highest attrition rates compared to most other school employees.
However, whether it’s from students, colleagues, or the school’s administration, special education teachers hardly get the appreciation they deserve.
The emotional component is frequently unnoticed because of all of the other expectations a special education teacher is required to meet. How to deal with the extra emotional stress?
There are several self-care strategies that Special Education teachers can practice to prevent reaching burnout.
- Don’t take work home.
- Keep from going in early or staying late to catch up on work.
- Exercise regularly.
- Try meditation. (Even just 5 minutes goes a long way.)
Here are additional self-care ideas for parents of special needs children to give you more ideas.
2. Parent Support-
As a special educator, you meet parents that care and some that don’t. One of the essential components of a successful relationship with a student is having their parents on your side.
Unfortunately, not all parents are going to believe that.
How to deal with that?
- Work as hard as you can to bridge the gap between home and school.
- Promote those positive relationships by staying in contact.
- Informing them of their student’s success no matter if they are not answering
Some parents, just like students, need to know that someone cares about their kids.
3. Public Support-
Special Education teachers work in a world where people continuously bash your job by saying, “You have the easiest job in the world!”.
It is hard to get the world around you to know just how hard your job is. Unfortunately, there are teachers in this world who make those statements true, but make it your mission to flatten that curve.
Special Education teachers feel that they do not have time to teach. They are focused on meeting the deadline of their 20-page paperwork due at the end of the day.
I wish I had this magical solution to fix this. All I can say is be proactive.
How to deal with it?
- Break it down into chunks.
- Designate specific days for certain parts.
- Don’t try to start and finish it all in one day.
5. Collaborating with General Education Teachers-
As a Special Education teacher, you will need to collaborate with general education teachers on how to reach Special Education students in their classrooms.
Some teachers will be open to working with you, while others will look at it as extra work for nothing. They will not understand what you do or how you do it, and they will expect answers immediately.
How to deal with it?
- Educate as much as you possibly can.
- Stick to a specific issue their student is facing.
- Don’t just focus on how to fix it.
Through educating general education teachers, you may bring awareness to something they would not have normally thought of on their own.
Now, these are not all the answers to these stressors; however, they are a start. Be proactive in how you are feeling and what you are dealing with daily.
Reach out for help, and don’t try to do it alone. The last thing this world needs is to lose an excellent Special Education teacher due to stress.
Additional Special Education Teacher Resources
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a lot goes into working with those with special needs I work with adults with special needs and understand how trying this can be. I was also a parent of children that required some special help in school. I want to thank all those that do this job and while I know it can be frustrating also know how much pride they get when their student achieves more than they were
This is an eye opening post. I know it is challenging enough to be a teacher, what more if it is a special education teacher. I think parents should also be able to help out. Thanks for writing this article. It made me more aware of the challenges a SpEd teacher encounters everyday.
My sister always wanted to work in special education. She found that it was the most rewarding of all her teacher training. She’s yet to get there but I like to think she’ll still go for it.
It can be difficult, but rewarding all the same.
If you think it’s hard to be a special education teacher-try being a parent!!