Have you always had a passion for working with children? Are you naturally patient, understanding, and determined? Are you ready to tackle the unique opportunities of teaching children with disabilities? If so, UNC Charlotte’s B.A. in Special Education is the perfect degree for you. Our nationally-respected faculty will train you to educate children with mild to severe disabilities in general classrooms, resource classrooms, and other educational settings.
In the process of earning your B.A. in Special Education, you will learn to provide carefully planned instruction for students with special needs; modify lessons to accommodate the needs of students with disabilities; plan achievable goals and evaluate student progress; and help each student reach his or her greatest possible level of academic success and self-sufficiency.
Sound interesting? Read on to learn more about this rich and exciting career path.
Why teach special education?
Students with disabilities often require more time, more patience, and more understanding than non-disabled students; they also require differentiated instruction that is tailored to their distinctive learning abilities. As a Special Education teacher, it will be up you to see the potential within every child, and to create an environment that maximizes that potential.
Special Education has many unique rewards which set it apart from any other type of teaching. Here are a few reasons why Special Education teachers love what they do:
- As a Special Education teacher, there will never be a “typical” student or a boring day. Every day will be filled with new opportunities and challenges.
- You will be much more than simply a classroom teacher. You will also be a community advocate, a role model, a counselor, a specialist in learning and behavioral challenges, and a guide for disabled students and their parents. Because of this, you will develop close, long-lasting bonds with your students and their parents, which will often last throughout a child’s entire life.
- All teaching is rewarding, but there is a special magic in seeing a child grasp a new skill that he or she has been working on for weeks. For many Special Education teachers, the light and joy in their students’ faces is something that cannot be matched in any other learning group.
In addition to positions in traditional classroom settings, special education graduates also have the opportunity to consider the following careers*:
* Some requiring further education
You might also choose to perform educational, administrative, research, or advocacy work for Special Education students in one of the following settings:
Since the field of Special Education is constantly evolving, this is far from an exhaustive list of opportunities. By the time you graduate, there may be more opportunities available that do not exist today.
Once you decide to pursue the B.A. in Special Education, you will be able to choose between two licensure areas:
- Special Education: General Curriculum license -- Qualifies graduates to teach children with special needs in grades K-12 with mild disabilities (i.e., learning disabilities, mild intellectual disabilities, and emotional/behavioral disabilities).
- Special Education: Adapted Curriculum licensure -- Qualifies graduates to teach children with special needs in grades K-12 with severe disabilities (i.e., moderate to severe intellectual disabilities, multiple disabilities).
In addition to general courses in mathematics, science, English, and history, you will take courses which will assist you in your chosen area of specialization. Your courses will teach you specialized instructional techniques for reading and other academic areas, classroom management strategies, behavior modification strategies for diverse learners, curriculum design, time management skills in the classroom, and various other Special Education strategies.
Hands-On Teaching Opportunities
Throughout your studies, you will you will have opportunities to participate in various field experiences where you will observe, interact with, and teach diverse populations of children in area schools. These experiences are designed to expose graduates to children with diverse educational needs.
Finally, in your last year of study, you will participate in a yearlong Internship designed to give you even more hands-on experience. In your first semester, you will spend at least one day per week in an assigned classroom while continuing to complete your other coursework. In the second semester, you will progress to full-time student teaching in the same classroom. By the time you graduate, you will have plenty of experiences to discuss in interviews!