Teaching students with special needs is a fulfilling job. You influence their academic learning and help these students develop and integrate into the world.
But the road to becoming a Special Education (SPED) teacher is complicated, and there are not many resources for you to refer to.
If you have a passion for teaching students with special needs but don’t know how to begin teaching them, this article will show you what you need to do!
SPED Teacher Job Scope
Before getting into what you need to do to become a SPED teacher, you should know what your responsibilities are. First and foremost, you are expected to teach the standard school subjects (e.g. Maths, History, Sciences).
But what makes you different from a typical teacher is that you have to adapt the curriculum and lessons to your student’s disabilities and needs as a SPED teacher. For example, giving more time to students with dyslexia or including activities for students with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
You are also required to collaborate with school counsellors, occupational therapists, psychologists, and parents to help your student develop and socialise.
Minimum Requirements to Become a SPED teacher
As with any other job, there are minimum requirements you need to meet to become a SPED teacher.
According to the Ministry of Education (MOE), you must have one of the following:
1. GCE A-Level certificate.
2. Polytechnic diploma.
3. Diploma from Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (NAFA).
4. Diploma from Lasalle College of the Arts.
5. International Baccalaureate (IB) diploma.
6. Any other equivalent or relevant qualifications.
And you must have all of the following:
1. Bachelor’s or Master’s degree in Special Education.
2. Teaching practicum at a special education school as part of your studies.
3. Transcript showing special education teaching practicum and English Language competence if your degree was not conducted in English.
If you don’t meet any of the minimum requirements, you cannot become a SPED teacher.
Skills Needed to Become a SPED Teacher
Being a SPED teacher can be tricky, so you need to have a certain skill set to succeed.
Strong communication skills are a must. It helps you communicate effectively with your students, other teachers, counsellors, parents, and administrators (with whom you will work closely).
Patience and resourcefulness also allow you to teach and help your students develop and learn. You need to stay calm when things don’t go your way and think of creative ways to present information that lets you instruct your students effectively.
Accumulate Practical Experience
When it comes to being a SPED teacher, having practical experience is vital to your success. But that can be hard to attain, especially if you cannot get a SPED teaching position yet (which is why you’re reading this article).
So here are some ways you can accumulate practical experience.
You can get experience by volunteering at nearby SPED schools or joining communities and organisations that work with SPED children. For example, Rainbow Centre and Bishan Home for the Intellectually Disabled.
Internships and extending them
During your studies in various courses for special education, you have opportunities to participate in internships and attachments. Make full use of this experience, and if you can, try to get a recommendation to extend your internship.
How do you apply?
You can directly apply to any special education school you are interested in at any time. Applications are open year-round.
Or, if you were previously a MOE teacher, you can consider transferring to a special education school by participating in the Annual Posting Exercise.
To apply as a SPED tutor, register at SmileTutor today!
Although the road to becoming a SPED teacher is challenging and complex, it should not deter you from pursuing your passion for helping students with special needs.
I hope this article shows you how you can start your work in helping SPED students. Good luck!
To learn more about teaching SPED students, check out our other articles:
Special Education Schools: Complete Guide to SPED Schools in Singapore