5 Characteristics of a Special Education Teacher

A person interested in a teaching career should know about these five characteristics of a special education teacher. Special education teachers work with students who have a wide range of disabilities, and they need to know how to instruct each child individually to help the student achieve their fullest potential. A person who has all of these characteristics is more likely to enjoy and do well as a special education teacher.

Special Education Teachers Have These 5 Personality Traits

  • Excellence in Written and Oral Communication
  • Ability to Think Critically
  • Interpersonal Skills
  • Patience
  • Resourcefulness

1. Excellence in Written and Oral Communication

Special education teachers must make extensive notes and documentation about their lesson plans and activities in the classroom. They need to communicate their teaching style, lessons and plans to students who may have language disorders or difficulty with understanding written or oral communication. The teachers also need to communicate well with aides, parents, caregivers, school psychologists, counselors and administrators. A special education teacher should also be able to write individualized education plans and share them with students and their guardians.

2. Ability to Think Critically

Part of teaching involves the ability to assess a student’s progress. If progress is not where the teacher thought it would be, critical thinking skills are necessary. The teacher could use their critical thinking skills to amend lesson plans or try a different instructional style to get the student back on track. Critical thinking is also helpful for figuring out how to decrease problem behaviors and reward good behaviors in the classroom.

3. Interpersonal Skills

Special education teachers work with students who have disabilities, and those disabilities could include difficulty with relating to people. The teachers also work with the aides who help them or who help the student. Most special education teachers are in regular contact with the student’s parents or guardians, and they have to know how to relate to them and explain their instructional methods. These teachers also work with other educators and professionals, including resource specialists, psychologists and social workers. The ability to maintain good working relationships is essential.

4. Patience

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, special education teachers need to be patient. Educating a child with disabilities takes a long time. It could take a while to find the best instructional methods for the child. Some children with disabilities have conditions that make it exceptionally difficult to teach them. Teachers have to know how to manage frustration and be patient with the slow learning process.

5. Resourcefulness

Public schools often lack enough funding. Special education often requires particularly expensive tools, devices and software that might exceed the budget for the classroom or the department. If a school district cannot afford to provide everything the special education teacher needs, the teacher will have to be resourceful. They might need to modify their lesson plans or the learning aids they use in the classroom. They may also need to work with general education teachers to help them make accommodations for special education students who are in an inclusive classroom.

Related Resource: Top 15 Most Affordable Accelerated Master’s in Special Education Online

A person who has these characteristics naturally is likely to do well as a special education teacher. It is important to know that some of these characteristics can be honed or practiced, such as written communication. Anyone who desires to work with children who have disabilities and help them reach their life’s potential should think about if they have these five characteristics of a special education teacher.

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