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Students enrolled in special education courses are special needs students who have a physical, educational or emotional disability that requires some type of special attention or specific teaching approach. This process involves planning individual teaching procedures, adapting equipment and materials and other things designed to help students with disabilities learn and succeed in their schools and communities. The assistance provided is intended to enhance the students' educations and therefore requires that educators in this field gain more credentials than educators who teach general education. In most cases, special education curriculum is the same as general education curriculum, with courses in math, reading, writing, social studies, science and other basic subjects. The difference is that special education courses are presented in ways adapted for students with special needs.
There are different ways that students are separated for children to receive a better education. Some of these include: students with disabilities learning in general education classrooms with no outside help, special education students meeting with counselors or language specialists outside of the classroom, students splitting their time between general education classrooms and special education classrooms or complete separation where special needs students have little contact with general education students. One common complaint from parents about special education services involves children who are part of an ethnic minority, are poor or do not speak the dominant language being unnecessarily placed into a special education course.
Some techniques that teachers use to teach a special education curriculum are problem solving, small group work and individualized instruction. They also must make special accommodations such as testing regularly and differentiating according to different learning methods. Training for special education teachers usually involves a minimum of a four-year bachelor's degree from a college, university or online degree program and sometimes requires some level of graduate school preparation, often with some kind of specialization. A great deal of the final year of training is spent in observations and supervised teaching. These educators must learn organization, patience, motivation, acceptance and understanding of children with disabilities in order to be successful educators.
Certain types of disabilities are often targeted in the special education curriculum. Some of these include learning disabilities, speech impairments, autism, deafness or blindness, emotional disturbance and more. Sometimes these children are given services to help them be more successful in general education for their futures, and other times educators focus more on basic life skills and literacy, depending on how severe a child's disability impairs his or her ability to learn. In any case, educators often develop an individualized education program (IEP) for each student taking courses from a special education curriculum to help every student succeed in achieving the highest level of education possible while in the special education program.
It's not just "often" develops an IEP. Every student who is classified as being special education has an IEP, and this includes gifted students, as well as developmentally disabled students.
One big issue right now is how much to mainstream special education students. Some are able to function in a regular classroom in some areas, while some students are not. Some students may only need special education in math, for instance, but can stay in a regular classroom for social studies or science.
Curriculum also needs to be developed based on cultural issues. Some special education students come from homes where a different culture is prevalent, so their curriculum must be designed to consider these differences. It's a fine line to walk.
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