Special education teachers work with students with disabilities. Each student has an Individualized Education Program, developed by the teachers, administrators, counselors, doctors, and parents of the child. Using the IEP as a guideline, the special education teacher will modify the general education curriculum to allow the child to learn within his or her ability. For example, students with severe reading difficulty may have questions read aloud to them, while the teacher works slowly to develop reading skills.
A large part of the special education teacher's job is helping students prepare for life after school. Teachers guide the students in proper social behavior, in coping with stress, and in life skills (such as balancing a check book and asking for direction).
Teachers also spend a good deal of time working with parents, administrators, and general teachers to revise the plan, update progress, and determine new ways to fill the child's needs. They fill out daily progress reports; send a folder home for parents with tips on doing homework, and more.
Special education teachers usually find the job to be highly rewarding, as well as physically and emotionally stressful. Most teachers work the traditional 10-month school year, with a 2-month vacation. Some teachers fulfill continuing education requirements for certification over the break.