Special education can be defined as specially configured instructions and other education-related services to meet the educational, social, emotional, and vocational needs of students with disabilities. Special education teachers educate students who have various types of disabilities, including speech or language impairments, mental retardation, emotional distress, hearing impairments, orthopedic impairments, multiple disabilities, specific learning disabilities, visual impairments, autism, combined blindness and deafness, traumatic brain injury, and other health impairments. A special educator has to work with students of all ages from infants and toddlers, students in elementary, middle, and high schools, as well as youths. The special educator's job also involves working with a team of professionals, i.e., doctors, speech pathologists, social workers, orthopedists, psychiatrists, counselors, etc. The teaching methods and techniques in special education would vary based on the disability and it would also vary from individual to individual.
The teaching methods include individual instructions, problem-solving techniques, group work, and special assignments depending upon the needs of the individual. They can also develop individual educational programs for each student to help with the child's activities of daily living. As technology plays an important role in special education, a teacher is expected to instruct the students and their parents on the latest instrumentations and its usage in disability, as the case maybe. For instance, interactive software and computers that talk are now available in the market, which would be of great help for students with speech impairments. It requires a lot of enthusiasm, optimism, patience, tolerance, and perseverance for one to be a special education teacher as the job involves a lot of interaction with students of all age groups and with other people.
In the United States, all states demand special education teachers to be licensed. The special education teacher has to complete of a teacher's training program and must have a Bachelor's degree or a Master's degree. As they deal with students with mild to profound disabilities, their job demands specialization in either one or other areas of disability, which would enable the teachers to develop their own curriculum materials and teaching techniques to meet the needs of the students.