Today marks an incredibly special day – it is Special Education Day! Since 1975, December 2nd has been recognized in the United States as Special Education Day. This day marks the signing of the Individuals with with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) which allowed students with special needs to access free public education. On this day, we pause to celebrate the hard work and dedication of special educators, who lead our students to success. Special educators are some of the most important members of our communities. They play a critical role in guiding their students to reach their fullest potential, and providing them with the necessary tools and resources to do so. From helping develop individualized learning plans to providing much-needed emotional support in tough times, the importance of these individuals cannot be overstated.
We know teachers work tirelessly on behalf of their students to ensure they have access to the same educational opportunities as any other student. They push boundaries, think outside of the box, and come up with creative solutions that make learning easier for those with special needs. That doesn’t mean there are not challenges that need overcoming. These are some of the most common things we’re hearing right now:
A significant challenge special education is facing right now is due to teacher shortage. Fewer and fewer people are pursuing degrees in special education due to stressors in the field of education over the last few years. And many of those who were teaching teaching SPED left due to these same stressors. As a result, there are simply not enough special education teachers to meet the needs of all students. This shortage can have a number of negative consequences, such as larger class sizes and less individualized attention for students. In addition, it can be difficult to find qualified teachers for certain specialized areas, such as behavior management or early intervention. This leaves current SPED teachers tired and stressed, as they are having to make it work in the classroom without enough staff.
It’s no secret that the 2020 pandemic had a huge effect on students. Because two years–or more–were taken away from them, they are behind in many ways. This is especially true in terms of their social-emotional skills. Teachers are doing their best to make up for lost time, but they are often left scrambling to help prepare high school students for the real world. Between catching students up and teaching career planning and independent living skills, special education teachers have an incredibly heavy workload right now.
Between dealing with teacher shortage and a heavy workload, it’s no wonder that special education teachers are stressed and experiencing burnout. While burnout is often associated with physical exhaustion, it can also result from emotional and mental fatigue. If left unchecked, burnout can lead to serious mental health problems such as anxiety and depression. It is therefore essential that teachers take steps to prevent burnout before it becomes a problem.
We Can Help!
Today we recognize not only the hard work that goes into being a special educator but also the immense energy and enthusiasm that is needed to overcome these obstacles. Each teacher strives daily for better outcomes for their students, regardless of any obstacles or challenges that may arise along their journey. Let us take this day to thank all those amazing special educators who give so much of themselves in order to make a difference in our children’s lives! At Conover, we are passionate about helping students and teachers reach their full potential. Our online assessment and curriculum system can help educators do what they need to do more efficiently. See how Conover Online can help teachers eliminate stress and avoid burnout. Schedule a demo with us today!
Art Janowiak III is the VP of Sales and Marketing at The Conover Company. He graduated from St. Norbert College with a passion for teaching. He has experience speaking, training and putting together online courses for emotional intelligence and career assessments. He currently lives in rural Wisconsin with his wife and five children.