Why Become a Special Educator?

Make a difference in the lives of students with special needs

Professionals who teach and provide services to children with disabilities have challenging yet rewarding careers. These professionals include special education and and adapted physical education teachers, school psychologists, school counselors, school nurses, art therapists, music therapists, and school social workers.

The Law

Federal legislation, reauthorized in 2004 and now called the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEIA), requires that public schools provide appropriate instruction and supportive services to meet the education, social, emotional, and vocational needs of students with disabilities. To qualify for special education services, a student must have a unique learning need that differs from other similarly aged students. This need is individually determined through an interdisciplinary assessment, and the education and services to be provided are planned jointly by the child's parents, teachers, other school professionals, and the students themselves if they are able.

Special Education Teachers

provide instruction and adapt and develop materials to match the learning styles, strengths, and special needs of each student. They work to ensure that students with educational disabilities reach their learning potential. There are several specialty areas within special education. These areas of specialization are usually classified by disability category, such as teacher of students with learning disabilities or teacher of students with mental disabilities. In some schools, special education classes may be made up of students who have different disabilities; in other, the class may be designed for students who all have the same disability to varying degrees. Now that more children and youth with disabilities are being served within the general education classroom in their neighborhood school, special education teachers are also acting as consultants to general education teachers (resource specialists), or are co-teaching classes with them.

To Learn More

Persons interested in learning more about how to become a special educator at San Jose State University should attend an orientation. Our professional preparation programs are:

  • Early Childhood Special Educator
  • Mild/Moderate Disabilities
  • Moderate/Severe Disabilities