5 Things an Advanced Degree Teaches you About the Intricacies of Special Education

Advanced Degree

Special Education includes teaching practices and curriculum especially designed for students with physical or developmental disabilities. Such students have difficulty grasping the general concepts taught through traditional teaching methods. The schools in the United States are required by law to provide special education to special needs students.

As a teacher, you may find more students with special needs in your classroom now more than ever before. This may be due to a better system to evaluate and identify learning disabilities in children. According to the US Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), children with cognitive, emotional, physical, and medical conditions should be provided with additional services outside the traditional curriculum. These services include additional support, specific technologies, and individual planning.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the frequency of students with special needs has significantly increased in the past few years. Between ages 3 and 12, 14% of the students require special education to accommodate their learning disabilities. 34% of these students have a specific learning disability like dyslexia or ADHD. Around 19% of the students have a speech impairment while 10% of the total disabled students are autistic.

As a teacher, you need to be prepared to handle special needs students in your class. Although there are special schools for children with severe mental and physical disabilities, learning disabilities are often tackled in regular schools.

An advanced degree can be your best chance to acquire skills for special education. For this purpose, a Special Education Masters Program can help you enormously. Such degree programs grant you a provisional teaching license after a semester, so you can start working in the field while studying.

Special education is an intricate field. Here are all the things an advanced degree teaches you about special education.

1.     Best Practices in Curriculum and Instruction in Special Education

Traditional curriculum and instruction strategies are not suitable for special needs students. They need extra resources and an innovative strategy to be on the same page as their normally-abled peers.

An advanced degree in special education trains you to design a curriculum fit for special needs children. The curriculum includes new and innovative activities to keep the attention of attention-deficit students. The instructions are designed in a manner that is easily understood by them. You can make additional changes in a normal curriculum in a way that is beneficial to all the students.

2.     Equitable Teaching Practices

Teaching students with special needs require an extra set of skills. An advanced degree helps you develop and polish these skills throughout the program. Such skills are necessary to positively impact the lives of special needs students. Some of these skills include:

  • Efficiently using technology to develop lesson plans.
  • Using graphs and colorful illustrations to retain focus.
  • Introducing fun activities that help them learn something new.
  • Promote social interactions among the students.
  • Create an environment free of distractions and disturbances.

3.     The Difference in Special and Inclusive Education

While both systems incorporate special needs students, there is a significant difference between these two approaches.

Special education is a student-centric approach. This promotes the idea that special needs students should be taught in a different environment than normally-abled students. Such an approach is beneficial for children who suffer from a mental disability like cerebral palsy or Downs Syndrome, or a physical disability like hearing or visual impairment.

Inclusive education is an education-for-all approach. In this approach, special needs students are taught in the same environment as normally-abled students with a few tweaks in their curriculum. This helps them feel connected to normal people and increases their productivity.

4.     Various Learning Theories

As the research around education and curriculum progresses, scientists developed various theories centered on different types of learning. These theories can be applied to special education to yield the best possible outcomes. They include:

  • Behaviorism: It refers to changes in the behavior of individuals due to environmental or psychological cues. By employing this theory, teachers can influence and support a positive behavioral change to make it a part of the routine.
  • Cognitivism: In this approach, teachers observe behavioral changes in the special needs students to assess their thought patterns.
  • Constructivism: This theory is based on the idea that knowledge is gained through experience.

For optimal results, teachers often mix these theories to form the best curriculum for special needs students.

5.     Practical and Transferable Skills

Teachers must possess specific traits and qualities to handle special needs students. An advanced degree focuses on developing these practical skills.

  • Communication skills: Effective communication is the key. Special needs students are different from other students, so communication with them can be challenging. Encourage them to share their feelings openly.
  • Patience: With special needs students, progress is slow. Learn to be patient with them.
  • Organization: Keep your lesson plans organized. Children with special needs perform better in an organized environment.
  • Acceptance: Dont treat them as different people. When you accept the disabilities of students, it gives them a sense of value.


A career in special education is high in demand due to the increasing number of special needs children. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment is expected to expand by 6% by 2030. In addition to promising future prospects, this career is highly rewarding. You gain the skills to make a difference in the lives of special needs children and give them a chance to live a normal life.