Directory Academic Home Home  
WebMail Muskie Link Blackboard  
Academics Home Page
Admissions Home Page
About the Department
About the Faculty
Early Childhood Major
Middle Childhood Major
Special Education Major
Physical Education Major
Health Education Major
Adolescent to Young Adult Licensure
Multi-Age Licensure
Shared Values & Beliefs
Key Program Assessments
Key Licensure Assessments
Candidate Performance Data
Current Department Events
After Graduation - Alumni
Awards and Honoraries
Student Opportunities
Student Success Stories
Forms, Resources, and External Links
Key Program Assessment Training Module
Logo The content below is information specific to this academic department's fields of interest.

What is Special Education?


What exactly is a special education teacher?

A special education teacher serves both as an educator and as an advocate for students with special needs.  His or her schedule is divided among planning, instruction, assessing students and managing student individualized education programs (IEPs).  The role of the special eduction teacher is to plan and provide for appropriate learning experiences for students with disabilities in a variety of educational settings.

What is their role in a school? The special education teacher in today's schools plays a very critical role in the proper education of exceptional students.  The teacher is unique in that he/she can fit many different roles in the educational environment.  Each role involves a variety of responsibilities and functions.  Some common roles include: consulting teacher, resource teacher, inclusion specialist, transition specialist or itinerant teacher.  Special education teachers may be faced with a variety of responsibilities including but not limited to:

  • Curriculum modification
  • Parent Conferences
  • Pre-Post testing, progress monitoring
  • Involvement in the annual  review
  • Involvement in the triennial evaluation process
  • Monitoring the IEP, modifications and accommodations

Consulting Teacher is assigned to work with a child with a disability right in the mainstreamed class as determined as his/her least restrictive environment.

Resource Teacher divides time among directly instructing students, working with teachers regarding students' needs, and co-teaching.  This teacher works with students to meet goals on their individual IEP.  The classroom setting, which is sometimes called a resource room, also provides the teacher the opportunity to work with his students on life skills and behavior modification techniques.

Inclusion Specialist provides student instruction, problem solves with teachers, and coordinates the services a student receives.

Transition Specialist works in primarily high school settings and helps prepare students to transition from school to vocational training, employment, or postsecondary education.

Itinerant Teacher is employed by an agency hired to visit various schools in several districts and work with children with disabilities.  This provides each child with the required auxiliary services and allows a district to meet requirements without having a program of their own.

The special education teacher, encounters a variety of situations that require practical decisions and relevant suggestions.  With a solid base of knowledge in legal and educational foundations, he/she needs to fully understand symptoms, causality, evaluation, diagnosis, prescription and remediation as well as be skilled in communicating vital information to professionals, parents and students.

(Adapted from the Special Educator's Survival Guide/Pierangleo/Jossey Bass Publishers/2005)