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TNTP Teaching Fellows

SPECIAL EDUCATION | Frequently Asked Questions

Have you considered teaching Special Education? Get the facts before you decide.

Only 30 percent of special education students earn a high school diploma within four years. TNTP Teaching Fellows programs are working to improve that statistic by placing talented individuals — like you — in special education classrooms across the U.S.

 

What is Special Education?

There’s no typical Special Education classroom. The vast majority of Special Education Fellows work with students who have mild to moderate disabilities. These students typically spend part of their day in a general education setting and are taught the same content as their peers, but may struggle to grasp complex ideas the first time they’re taught.

Why Should I Teach Special Education?

Specialized training. Our coaches are highly skilled and will work with you based on you and your students’ needs.

Highest need. Students with special needs suffer from the achievement gap the most. More than any other students, they have a chance to make monumental academic gains with you as their teacher.

Highest reward. Teachers love to talk about “light bulb” moments when their students not only learn something new, but realize they’re capable of learning so much more. The brightest light bulb moments come when you’re working with students with special needs.

What Do I Need to Know About Special Education?

No special background required. To teach special education, you don’t have to have a background with students with special needs. You need to have the same critical thinking skills as any other great teacher, plus an extra dose of patience and persistence.

Legal requirements. Students with special needs have a legal right to receive special services. As a special educator, you will have to fill out legal documents to show how you’re modifying your work for each of your students and how they’re progressing. You’ll learn more about these legal requirements during training.

Extra collaboration. As the case manager for students who receive special education services, you’re also responsible for collaborating with other teachers, parents, administrators, and related service providers like speech and language pathologists or occupational therapists, all of whom are working to support your students’ needs.

What kind of specialized training would I receive?

Training for special education teachers is tailored to the needs of the students they will teach, so that every special educator enters the classroom with the skills, strategies, and knowledge they need to be successful with the unique group of students they serve. Our Fellows enter their schools prepared with a depth of experience with students with moderate to severe disabilities and a wealth of strategies to support them.

If I have no experience in Special Education, how can I prepare for my content exams?

For a fee, testing companies will often provide study guides and practice tests specific to your content exams. Before you buy, consider where you could get free resources. Your local public library is a great option. You’ll also want to research the Categories of Disability under IDEA as well as the Council for Exceptional Children, which offers a wealth of resources for new special education teachers.

What is an Individualized Education Program (IEP)?

An Individualized Education Program (IEP) is a written statement of the educational program designed to meet a child’s individual needs. Every child who receives special education services must have an IEP. For more information, please click here.

What would my day look like as a special education teacher in a public school?

Because each school has its own unique settings and structure for special education classes, your experience will ultimately depend on the campus that hires you. As a special education Fellow, you’ll have the flexibility to focus your job search on settings and grade levels that suit your interests.