A Day in the Life of a Special Education Teacher - Mrs. D's Corner (2022)

Being a special education teacher, our jobs are pretty special. No pun intended.

We have a lot of fun teaching and learning from our friends. Our job is tough, though, and some days the word “tough” doesn’t even begin to describe it. I’ll be honest – some days we just survive. And that’s okay.

A Day in the Life of a Special Education Teacher - Mrs. D's Corner (1)

But it’s those moments in time that happen each day… the little laughs, the things our kids say and do, the things we start saying and doing, and so much more that just make our job so much fun.

Yes, even on the tough days.

And a lot of us say we should keep track of what our students say and write a book with it. I know that no two books would be identical, but man… we all experience the same stuff.

So let the hilarity ensue…

But first, thank you to everyone in The Special Ed Squad Facebook group for helping curate this amazing, hilarious, yet completely relatable account of what we special education teachers go through on a daily basis. We are not alone!

A Day in the Life of a Special Education Teacher - Mrs. D's Corner (2)

7:01 Arrive at school 44 minutes before the students arrive.

7:06 Begin running around like a madwoman because all of the copiers are out of toner, and you have an IEP meeting during your planning period at 9:30AM.

7:10 Restart your computer because you can’t connect to the district WIFI, and you can’t log in to the IEP system.

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7: 15 Get a text from one paraprofessional that he will be out today. He already told admin, and admin said they would “handle it”.

7:21 Get the IEP system loaded, only to realize you changed your password two days ago and now can’t remember it.

7:28 Finally get the IEP paperwork printed to your personal classroom printer. Your printer is now out of paper.

7:31 Get a text from admin that both of your paraprofessionals are out today. And there are no subs available.

7:32 Pick yourself up off the floor. You’re the adult. Kids will be here in T minus 13 minutes.

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7:40 Get an email from a parent who wants to schedule a conference to talk about Marsha’s progress. And she wants to see the child’s full school file. At 3:30 today. Sharp.

7:44 Run to the bus circle to get your students off the bus.

7:45 Students get off the bus. One is chewing on his left shoe. One had an explosive BM and needs changed, yesterday. One forgot her glasses. And one is crying because he is hungry.

7:48 Students are in a line, sort of, so now we can all walk back to the classroom.

7:49 Student is chewing on the right shoe now. Put student’s shoe back on.

7:52 Get to classroom. Put student’s shoe back on. Tell the other student to go to the bathroom. Admin walks in to let you know there will be a fire drill at some point today.

8:07 Run around to find the student who didn’t make it to class before the bell and is just roaming the halls.

8:25 Join general ed classroom for morning meeting. We’re a few minutes late, it’s cool.

A Day in the Life of a Special Education Teacher - Mrs. D's Corner (4)

8:31 Take student A to the nurse because student B bit her on the back of the neck.

9:13 Try to calm down a frantic child who heard another teacher mention the fire drill.

9:20 Put student D’s shoes back on. Carry crying student C who refuses to walk. Hope and pray that the rest of your students are following you back to the classroom.

9:25 Time for specials. Drop students off at specials with a fill-in teacher for your para because you have an IEP meeting (otherwise, you wouldn’t get your planning time today).

9:28 Leave the gym to run and grab your IEP paperwork.

9:30 Arrive at the IEP meeting.


10:00 IEP meeting lasts your entire planning. You’ll have to pee later.

10:00 Specials are over. Go pick up the kids.

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10:04 Front office calls to remind you to take attendance.

10:10 Make it back to the classroom to start reading groups.

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10:17 You make it outside with all of your students. You’re all in one piece. It’s fine kids, lay down. No, don’t run. It’s not time for recess. No, stay here. Okay, let me hold your hand. And your hand. Yulia put your shoes back on please. No, don’t throw your shoe. On. Shoe on. … …

10:31 A student is not accounted for and can’t be found. You’re wondering how much longer.

10:47 Student is found in the teacher’s classroom bathroom. All call, now you can go back in.

10:52 Make it back inside. Now it’s time to get ready for lunch.

10:53 Start the potty and handwashing routine. You hope no one is washing their hands in the potty.

10:57 Record timing for lining up. They must be hungry today.

11:00 Lunch.

11:15 As you are attending student needs at lunch, the speech pathologist finds you and wants to speak about Frank’s session. You offer suggestions.

11:30 Lunch is over. Begin cleaning up with students.

11:39 Line up and make your way back to the classroom.

11:40 Get stopped in the hallway by a general ed teacher who has a student melting down. Admin told the teacher to bring the child to you because you “are the only one available”.

11:44 Make it back to the classroom.

11:45 Put melting down student in the Calm Down Area.

11:47 Front office calls to remind you to take attendance. Again.

11:49 Student who was melting down is now calm. Tell the child he can go back to his classroom. Child begins melting down again.

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11:55 Send melting down student back to class.

12:00 Computer / iPad time.

COMPUTER TIME RUNS SMOOTHLY. (That is if you have enough devices for students to be 1:1).

12:30 Sensory / Motor Lab.

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12:45 Recess.

12:49 Another teacher says, “Mrs. DeLussey… your one child just took his pants off!”

12:53 Find student under the slide chewing on both shoes this time. Put shoes back on.

1:00 Story time.

1:04 Admin stops in for an informal observation.

1:07 Finish the story and try to transition to Math centers, while having students take a bathroom break.

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1:14 Chase student around the classroom. Another student takes her shoes off and starts running around the room.

1:15 Catch student one. Send to the bathroom to throw away used diaper.

1:16 Catch second student. Put shoes back on student and put student back in center.

1:28 Admin gets up to leave. Reminds you of the staff meeting after school today.

1:29 Walk calmly to your desk to retrieve a small Reese’s cup from your secret candy stash. You remain calm. You don’t want students to know you have chocolate.

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1:34 Student A just bit Student E. Call the nurse and she responds, “Who got hurt now?”

1:40 Snack.

1:42 Student has meltdown because she wants goldfish crackers and you offered carrots.

1:50 OT comes in.

1:53 PT comes in.

2:00 Speech Path comes in.

2:07 Receive email from teacher asking if you have an IEP for a student who is not on your caseload.

2:30 Start potty routine. For the sake of this… let’s just pretend it goes slowly.

2:42 Begin dismissal routine. Clean up. Backpacks. Jackets. All shoes are on. We’re lining up. And we’re late to the bus. Again.

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3:10 Run down the hallway carrying freshly cleaned up student to get him on the bus. His bus is the first in line, and no other buses can leave until the first bus pulls out.

… this time is sort of a blur.

3:30 Go to front office to see if parent has arrived yet. (Mind you, you are missing the staff meeting now).

3:38 Parent has still not arrived. Call parent. No answer. (Still missing the staff meeting.)

3:44 Parent calls and needs to reschedule for tomorrow. Reschedule.

3:45 Head to the staff meeting.

4:05 The room is quiet, all of the kids made it home safely, and you finally have a moment to breathe and look at the chaos that surrounds you. You think about your day, and you just laugh. You heart is full, but your brain is dead.

… and we will just leave it at 4:05PM. The end of the contract day. Not the end of our day. #letsbehonest

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There’s clean up. Prepping for tomorrow. Making a pot of coffee. Sanitizing all the things. Closing out of all the apps. Finding the two missing visual

But seriously. What a day.

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What are the 3 most important roles of a special education teacher? ›

The three most important roles of a special education teacher are being a resource, support, and mentor to their students. Special education teachers have a big impact on their students, and it is important to understand the nuances of the roles that a teacher fills to be successful within the role.

What is the most important role performed by the special education teacher? ›

Special education teachers typically do the following: Assess students' skills and determine their educational needs. Adapt general lessons to meet students' needs. Develop Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) for each student.

What are the major responsibilities of a special teacher? ›

Special education teachers facilitate effective lessons that cater to students living with physical, intellectual, emotional, and learning disabilities. They often work with a team to design activities that will help students achieve their specific learning goals.

What should the teacher do teaching in special education? ›

Special education teachers are expected to do quite a lot: Assess students' skills to determine their needs and then develop teaching plans; organize and assign activities that are specific to each student's abilities; teach and mentor students as a class, in small groups, and one-on-one; and write individualized ...

What is the main goal of special education and inclusive education? ›

The primary objective of inclusive education is to educate students who have disabilities in the regular classroom and still meet their individual needs. Inclusive education allows children with special needs to receive a free and appropriate education along with general education students in the regular classroom.

Why do I love being a special education teacher? ›

It's rewarding.

There is not much better than helping a student reach their potential. I feel great knowing my students have learned something new because I was able to teach them in a way that made sense for them. It's rewarding to know I have been able to reach them and help them on their way to future independence.

What is a special needs teacher called? ›

Special educational needs (SEN) teachers work with children and young people who have special educational needs or disabilities.

Where are special education teachers needed most? ›

The highest demand for special education teachers spans 48 of the 50 states, with New Hampshire and New Mexico reporting adequate coverage. In past years, Kentucky, New York, and California have been reported as needing the most special education teachers.

What is the role of the special education teacher in an inclusion classroom? ›

In an ideal inclusion classroom, the special education teacher and regular education teacher engage in co-planning. They work together to design lesson plans to fit the needs of all students, with the special education teacher focusing on the needs of the special needs students.

How do you deal with children with special needs? ›

8 Important Tips For Working With A Special Needs Child
  1. Interact. The biggest mistake that adults make when they meet someone like Louie is failing to interact with him. ...
  2. Observe. ...
  3. Use Common Sense. ...
  4. Be Flexible. ...
  5. Be Consistent. ...
  6. Use visual, auditory or tactile cues. ...
  7. Have a plan. ...
  8. Be Positive.
15 Oct 2012

What is the greatest challenge of a special education teacher? ›

The Top 10 Challenges of Special Education Teachers
  • Lack of appreciation. ...
  • Parent support. ...
  • Public support. ...
  • Paperwork. ...
  • Scheduling. ...
  • Training and supervising paraprofessionals. ...
  • Collaborating with general education teachers. ...
  • Data collection.
1 Feb 2012

What is the goal of a special education teacher? ›

The goal for a special education teacher is to prepare the student to make the transition from grade to grade and after graduation, sometimes up to 21 years of age. They teach academic skills, social etiquette, basic life skills, job skills, behavioral management, and emotional regulation to children with disabilities.

What are the four goals of special education? ›

The Four Goals of Early Childhood Special Education
  • Intellectual Development. Cognitive or intellectual development is one of the biggest goals of early childhood special education. ...
  • Physical Development. ...
  • Emotional Development. ...
  • Social Development.

What are the six principles of special education? ›

Following are the six major principles of the IDEA, focusing on students' rights and the responsibilities of public schools to children with disabilities.
  • Free Appropriate Public Education. ...
  • Appropriate Evaluation. ...
  • Individualized Education Plan. ...
  • Least Restrictive Environment. ...
  • Parent Participation. ...
  • Procedural Safeguards.
18 Apr 2022

What are the 5 components of special and inclusive education? ›

These components are (a) teachers, (b) family, (c) school staff, (d) inclusive students, (e) other students, (f) supportive special education services and (g) instructional adaptations.

What are smart goals in special education? ›

SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Results-oriented, and Time-bound. Having SMART IEP goals can help your child get the most out of special education. A SMART IEP goal will be realistic for your child to achieve and will lay out how your child will accomplish it.

Why do I want to work with kids with autism? ›

Despite the challenges, working with individuals with autism and other disabilities is rewarding, fun, and incredible. Working with children with autism isn't for everyone, and this is why it takes a special person to wake up early and handle the emotional and behavioral demands that occur each and every day.

Why do you want to work with students with disabilities? ›

Working with special needs students gives you the opportunity to impact the lives of children who have disabilities, learning disorders, and developmental delays. Not only are you making an impact in the lives of students by giving them tools and resources to learn according to their learning style.

Are special education teachers happy? ›

A solid majority of special education teachers enjoy their work environment, probably contributing to overall higher satisfaction with working as a special education teacher.

What are the roles and responsibilities of the special education teachers What do you think the qualities of an effective special education teacher? ›

5 Characteristics of Special Education Teachers
  • Patience. Working with students who have diverse physical, emotional and mental challenges requires a teacher to have patience for each child's behavioral and learning abilities. ...
  • Empathetic. ...
  • Resourceful. ...
  • Collaborative Communicator. ...
  • Service Oriented.

Who are the three professional associated with special education? ›

Lesson Summary

Three primary professional organizations for special education teachers include: the American Association of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AAIDD), the National Association of Special Education Teachers (NASET), and the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC).

What is the role of teacher in inclusive school? ›

In an inclusive classroom, teachers work together to provide specially-abled children or students from diverse cultures and races with appropriate support to encourage their genuine and valued participation. The concept of inclusive education embraces human diversity at the ground level of a country's education system.

What is the role of a special needs worker? ›

Helping children understand instructions, through repetition, re-phrasing or demonstrating. Putting into practice individual education, social, behavioural and personal care programmes. Encouraging children to communicate with one another and with staff. Providing feedback and assistance to teachers.

What are the most important skills for a teacher of students with severe and multiple disabilities Why? ›

What are the most important skills for a teacher of students with severe and multiple disabilities? Why? Skilled in positive, instructionally relevant strategies for assessing and dealing with challenging and problem behaviors.

What are your strengths as a special education teacher? ›

The Qualities of a Special Ed Teacher – What it Takes to be Great
  • Adaptability. Classrooms can be unpredictable. ...
  • Collaboration. ...
  • Communication skills. ...
  • Compassion. ...
  • Devotion to improvement. ...
  • Assessment skills. ...
  • Knowledge of theory and practice. ...
  • Listening skills.
17 Aug 2018

What are the 4 types of assessment in special education? ›

A Guide to Types of Assessment: Diagnostic, Formative, Interim, and Summative.

How do special education teachers stay organized? ›

Special educators handle lots of paperwork and documentation throughout the year. Try to set up two separate folders or binders for each child on your case load: one for keeping track of student work and assessment data and the other for keeping track of all other special education documentation.

How do you teach a learner with special needs? ›

Successful Strategies for Teaching and Supporting Students with Disabilities
  1. Lean on others. ...
  2. Stay organized. ...
  3. Don't reinvent the wheel. ...
  4. Know that each student is unique. ...
  5. Keep instructions simple. ...
  6. Embrace advocacy. ...
  7. Create opportunities for success. ...
  8. Don't feel pressure to be perfect.

What are four responsibilities of a teacher in an inclusion classroom? ›

  • 1 Accommodate Inclusion Students. Inclusion teachers must accommodate special education students as indicated on their Individualized education plans (IEPs). ...
  • 2 Modify Assignments and Tests. ...
  • 3 Collaborate With the Regular Education Teacher. ...
  • 4 Address Parental Concerns. ...
  • 5 Complete Required Paperwork.

What are the 5 key principles of inclusive education? ›

The following guiding principles—equity, safety, leadership and empowerment and do no harm—should be reflected in all efforts to address disability inclusive education, much like they are for integrating gender into education programming.

How much do special ed teachers make? ›

The BLS reported a median annual special education teacher salary of $61,420 in 2020. Salaries for special education teachers vary by location, employer, industry, and level of education and experience. The BLS reported a median annual special education teacher salary of $61,420 in 2020.

What counts as special educational needs? ›

A child has special educational needs if they have a learning problem or disability that make it more difficult for them to learn than most children their age. They may have problems with schoolwork, communication or behaviour. Parents can get help and advice from specialists, teachers and voluntary organisations.

What qualities do you possess that make you a good special needs teaching assistant? ›

What are the qualities required to be a teaching assistant?
  • Good communication skills with the ability to communicate clearly to teachers and students.
  • Active listening skills.
  • Compassion and sensitivity towards children.
  • Knowledge of the curriculum.
  • Ability to use a computer.
  • Can work well under pressure.


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