Powerful Geography
Teacher: Special Education

Teacher: Special Education

Teacher:  Special Education


Main Topic: Human Geography
Secondary Topic: Environment and Society

Overview:  Special education teachers work with students from preschool to high school who have learning, mental, emotional, or physical disabilities. They adapt general education lessons and teach various subjects to students with mild to moderate disabilities. They also teach basic skills to students with severe disabilities.  Some help students develop study skills, such as highlighting text and using flashcards. Others work with students who may use a wheelchair or other adaptive devices. Still others work with students who may use visual or hearing impairments. They also may work with those who have autism spectrum disorders or emotional disorders, such as anxiety and depression.  Special education teachers work with general education teachers, specialists, administrators, and parents to develop Individualized Education Plans (IEPs). Students’ IEPs outline their goals, including academic or behavioral milestones, and services they are to receive, such as speech therapy. Educators and parents also meet to discuss updates and changes to IEPs.  Special education teachers must be comfortable using and learning new technology. Most use computers to keep records of their students’ performance, prepare lesson plans, and update IEPs. Some teachers also use assistive technology aids, such as Braille writers and computer software, that help them communicate with their students.  Special education teachers’ duties vary by their work setting, students’ disabilities, and specialties.  Some special education teachers work in classrooms or resource centers that include only students with disabilities. In these settings, teachers plan, adapt, and present lessons to meet each student’s needs. They teach students individually or in small groups.  In inclusive classrooms, special education teachers instruct students with disabilities who are in general education classrooms. They work with general education teachers to adapt lessons so that students with disabilities can more easily understand them.  Some special education teachers work with students who have moderate to severe disabilities. These teachers help students, who may be eligible for services until age 21, develop basic life skills. Some teach the skills necessary for students with moderate disabilities to live independently, find a job, and manage money and their time.  Special education teachers engage with geographic skills in ways adaptive to their particular students, depending on their disabilities.  They could be teaching basic skills of personal space and direction, all the way to teaching advanced, more abstract concepts using the latest in geographic visualization technologies, including for those with sight disabilities.

Geographers at work:  Human geographers, cultural geographers

Recommended College Courses:  Human geography, physical geography, cultural geography, world regional geography, economic geography, environmental geography, political geography; geographic information systems

Skills:  Story maps; map reading and directional skills; geographic information systems; geovisualization; tactile maps; auditory maps; geographic thinking

Occupation Group: Education

Learn more about Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and U.S. Department of Labor:  https://www.bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/special-education-teachers.htm#tab-1

Written by Christopher Anderson