Important Attributes You Need To Become A Special Education Teacher (2023)

Important Attributes You Need To Become A Special Education Teacher (1)

Many people who enter the field of education do it out of a sense of vocation. They want to make an actual difference in the lives of their students and assist them in their development. But there are not many areas in education that are as fulfilling and impactful as a special education teacher.

Special educational needs teachers have to deal with children with different conditions, mental health needs or development issues. However, only a handful of people truly have the aptitudes and temperament needed to be successful in this field. Here are some of the skills and traits you need as a special education teacher.

The Right Formation

It all starts with the proper formation. If you want to become an SEN teacher, you’ll need to start with a degree in education. You might be able to get by with a bachelors, but many schools will privilege graduates who have a MA in education. There are numerous institutions where you can find a college program for a teaching degree, and doing research is crucial to find the right place for your interests.

If you want to learn more about the certifications and formation needed to become a special education teacher, you can find more information at Exeter Online.

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A good special educational needs teacher will also need to have a great sense of organization. Students with special needs need the structure that a well organized teacher can provide, and it can give them more confidence. This also allows them to be more organized themselves.

For instance, some of the ways that you can keep classes organized are by installing bins of different colors, and clearly marking what should go in each. You can assign tasks to certain groups of students and rotate so that everyone has an equal workload. You will be able to organize communication with parents by giving students communication notebooks that will travel from school to home and back.


Another trait that you’ll need as a special educational needs teacher is patience. Depending on where you work, you might be asked to work with students with all types of different learning difficulties or conditions. And some might manifest themselves more strongly than others. Or, in other cases, you might have more trouble getting some students to come out of their shells and actually talk to you.

In all these cases, you’ll need to be patient, and you’ll have to be able to keep a log of all your students’ individual needs. You’ll need to be able to learn and use the right approach with all students. Not only that, but you’ll also need to show patience when giving tasks. Some will take more time than others to complete work. In all cases, you’ll have to give your students the time it takes to complete tasks without feeling rushed.


Another trait you’ll need to have is creativity. Like we mentioned earlier since you’ll often have to deal with students with their own specific needs, you’ll also need to be able to adapt your teaching style accordingly. And you’ll need to build classes that will keep the whole group involved and engaged as well.

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If you’re creative, you’ll be able to find unique ways to reward students and keep them motivated. You’ll be able to change class settings and organize outside activities that your students will genuinely connect to. Creative teachers are able to instill the love of learning in their students and find ways to unlock their true potential by not only speaking to their strengths but catering to them as well.


Learning how to connect to students demands a good deal of intuition as well. Intuition is really a combination of attentiveness, compassion, and emotional intelligence. This will come in especially handy if you end up working with students who have gaps in their communication skills. Some may act out at times without a clear reason.

It will be up to you to know if they’re bursting out of anger, frustration, or simply because they lack attention. Your intuition will not only allow you to identify possible underlying issues but help resolve them as well.

Detail Oriented

You can’t only rely on your intuition when working as an SEN teacher. As a matter of fact, if you check out any type of description for special educational needs teacher openings, you’ll often notice that “must be detail-oriented” will usually be at the top of the list of qualifications.

So, in addition to being well organized, you will also need to be able to notice the subtle changes in behavior in your students. You’ll need to be able to gauge their mood, and whether they’re having issues or not. You’ll need to be able to keep track of which of your students are improving or on a downward slope.

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Your attention to detail will also help you identify other possible issues the child may be experiencing. For instance, you might be able to spot early signs of physical or emotional abuse. Or you could notice something strange in the family dynamic when speaking with the parents. Being detail-oriented could end up helping you in all sorts of situations and is one of the most important skills to have in the special education field.

Calm and Composed

You also need to be strong under pressure and show a calm face no matter the situation. This is not always easy, especially when students are being physically or verbally abusive towards you. A regular classroom can already be stressful and chaotic, but matters are only magnified in a special needs environment.

As a special educational needs teacher, you’ll not only need to be able to stay calm but find ways to calm down the class as well. If you can’t keep a class in control and get consensus without losing your composure, then you’ll have trouble lasting as a special education teacher.

You’ll also need to be able to deal with stress at many levels. Not only can the environment be stressful, but you might feel pressure for your students to meet certain benchmarks, which can be difficult depending on the makeup of your class. You’ll also have to deal with parents who might blame you for the child’s lack of development. These are all things you’ll have to be able to cope with as an SEN teacher.


If you’re looking for a nice set routine and don’t deal well with unpredictability, then this field is not for you. But if you like challenges, and don’t like monotony, then special education might be the field for you.

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You just never know what might happen in a special needs class. On some days, one half of the class might decide to have a collective meltdown. Students go in and out to meet therapists all the time. Dynamics can change depending on the subject. This is why you’ll need to be able to adapt yourself to any situation.

A Sense of Humor

While the job can be tough, having a good sense of humor will get you a long way in this business. Sometimes, humor is all it takes to de-fuse a situation. Students will also be more willing to trust and open themselves to you. Just being able to get a good laugh out of your class could completely change the room’s dynamic. While it is not an absolute prerequisite, if you’re too rigid, you’ll definitely struggle as an SEN teacher.

Deadline Oriented

While you want to be more flexible with children in need, you still need to instill some sort of structure, and you’ll need to be able to set clear deadlines. You want these deadlines to be lenient enough for them to not feel pressured, but strict enough to make sure that they stay focused.

Having a clear deadline also calms children and gives them a routine and clear expectations. You might be surprised at how much having a clear ritual and clear parameters can help children with certain disorders, like those with ADHD, for instance. If you’re ever called to work with these kinds of students, this might be one of the most vital skills you can have.

True Love for Children

If your main motivation is a paycheck or advancement, then we should stop you right there; special education is not for you. However, if you have an actual love for children and want to help them grow, thrive, and succeed, then this is the best field for you.

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If you don’t feel like it’s your calling, then chances are you will not last. So, make sure that your main motivation is your dedication to children with needs and to their success before you even start considering the field.

Ask for Advice

Do you have what it takes to be a good special education needs teacher? If you possess a few or all of these traits, you might be a great candidate. Whatever you do, make sure that you know exactly what will be expected from you, and don’t hesitate to survey the field and ask those already working in the sector for advice.

Important Attributes You Need To Become A Special Education Teacher (2)


Important Attributes You Need To Become A 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 qualities do you need to be a special ed 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.
Aug 17, 2018

What are the 3 most important roles of a 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 top 3 skills do you believe you need to be successful as a special education assistant? ›

The qualities identified with top workers in the field of special education often mimic those exhibited by parents: patience, compassion, consistency, acceptance and an passion to see their children do well. Assistants need these qualities and more, as they will be called upon to advocate for their students.

What are the 5 factors that make special education special? ›

Answer and Explanation: The behavior, limited English proficiency, blind or visually impaired, communication needs or deaf or hard of hearing, and assistive technology are the five factors that IEP team must determine to make special education effective for the students with disabilities.

Which skill is most important in teaching inclusive education? ›

The findings of the study showed that the most important skills that should be acquired in inclusive classes are self-acquaintance, communication, and empathy. Keywords: Inclusive education, empathic skill, students with special needs.

What do you say in a special education interview? ›

Describe a time you encountered a major challenge at work, and what you did to overcome that. Tell us about how you include parents and support staff in the educational process. Describe the most difficult student you've ever worked with and why. How did you work with them to succeed?

What are the top three attributes of a teacher? ›

Some qualities of a good teacher include skills in communication, listening, collaboration, adaptability, empathy and patience. Other characteristics of effective teaching include an engaging classroom presence, value in real-world learning, exchange of best practices and a lifelong love of learning.

What are the 3 important components that make up special education? ›

That's three separate, distinct, and critical elements–special education, related services, and supplementary aids and services–and each is worthy of a book on its own. Don't worry!

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

Three common soft skills for a severe disabilities special education teacher are communication skills, patience and resourcefulness.

How can I be successful in special education? ›

To keep you afloat, here are some tasks you should tackle first.
  1. Review All IEP Due Dates. For special education teachers, timelines and deadlines are critical. ...
  2. Make Positive Contact with Parents. ...
  3. Review and Organize Your Students' IEPs. ...
  4. Create a Game Plan for IEP Meetings. ...
  5. Lean on Your Mentor. ...
  6. Find Your Work-Life Balance.

What is the most important goal of special education? ›

The goal is to provide the child an opportunity to learn in the the least restrictive environment so they can ultimately thrive to the best of their ability when transitioned into adulthood. The process allows students with disabilities to remain in public school until they reach the age of 21 years.

How do you deal with misbehaving students in the classroom? ›

What to avoid
  1. Do not allow the behavior to continue.
  2. Avoid making it a class issue – address only the student who is causing the disruption.
  3. Avoid an argument or shouting match.
  4. Do not blame or ridicule the student, or use sarcasm.
  5. Do not touch the student.

What are the seven C's of special education? ›

The seven skills are: • Collaboration • Communication • Creativity • Critical Thinking • Character • Citizenship • Computational Thinking If we believe our work as teachers is mainly to prepare students for successful futures, then we should give opportunities for students to strengthen these skills.

What are the four major 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 7 special factors that must be considered in the development of any IEP? ›

The special factors are:
  • Behavior (Keep scrolling)
  • Limited English proficiency.
  • Blindness or visual impairment.
  • Communication needs/Deafness.
  • Assistive technology.

What are three of the most critical characteristics of a special educator? ›

Above all, a genuine love for children, an unwavering joy for teaching and a service-oriented attitude are essential character traits for the job. Special education teaching positions generally require a bachelor's degree and specialized endorsements.

What are the qualities of an inclusive teacher? ›

The effective teacher in the inclusive classroom possesses such characteristics as: efficient use of time; good relationships with students; provides positive feedback; has a high student success rate; and in general provides support for the students with and without disabilities (Larrivee, 1985).

What every special education classroom needs? ›

25 Must Haves for Any SPED Teacher
  • Personal laminator. I've had a Scotch Thermal Laminator for a little over 2 years now (I actually own two), and it has been life changing. ...
  • Velcro. ...
  • Planner. ...
  • Plastic Containers. ...
  • Snacks and Candy. ...
  • Hole Punch. ...
  • Scissors (Nonstick and Spring Loaded) ...
  • Clear Page Protectors / Sleeves.

Why do you want to be a special education teacher answer? ›

Sample Answer: I am very interested in working with your school's students because I have experience working with children who have similar conditions. I am also very familiar with your curriculum and teaching style and believe that I can help your students achieve their goals.

What is your weakness as special education teacher? ›

Lack of technological knowledge (such as a specific software) Reliance on routine – inflexibility can cause conflict. Perfectionism – this can be a tall order especially when dealing with children. An incomplete understanding of a specific skill – but a willingness to learn is important.

Why should we hire you as a teacher? ›

Your excellent communication and interpersonal skills. Your strong work ethic and dedication to students. Your innovative and enthusiastic approach to teaching. Your passion for helping students learn and grow.

What are 4 teacher's personal attributes? ›

top 5 qualities and characteristics of a good teacher.
  • Patient and approachable. They say that 'patience is a virtue', and this couldn't be more true for teachers. ...
  • Enthusiastic. ...
  • Strong communication skills. ...
  • Strong knowledge and a solid education. ...
  • Disciplined and professional.
Mar 1, 2022

What are the 5 most important characteristics of a teacher? ›

Top 5 Qualities of Effective Teachers, According to Teachers
  • Ability to develop trusting, productive relationships.
  • Patient, caring, kind.
  • Knowledge of learners.
  • Dedication to teaching.
  • Subject matter knowledge.

What core values should a teacher have? ›

The core of teaching consists of four basic values: dignity, truthfulness, fairness and responsibility & freedom. All teaching is founded on ethics – whether it be the teacher-student relationship, pluralism or a teacher's relationship with their work. Dignity means respect for humanity.

What are the 7 components of an IEP? ›

A Closer Look at Each IEP Component
  • Annual Goals. ...
  • Benchmarks or Short-Term Objectives. ...
  • Measuring and Reporting Progress. ...
  • Special Education. ...
  • Related Services. ...
  • Supplementary Aids and Services. ...
  • Program Modifications for School Personnel. ...
  • Extent of Nonparticipation.

What are the 4 main parts of an IEP? ›

According to the IDEA, an IEP must contain:
  • 1 – The Student's Current Educational Status. ...
  • 2 – Measurable Annual Goals. ...
  • 3- A Description of How the Child's Progress on Annual Goals Will Be Measured. ...
  • 4 – A Statement of the Special Education and Related Services and Supplementary Aids and Services.
Jun 24, 2022

What are the 6 pillars of idea special education? ›

Key to the legislation are six pillars that ensure a child's education needs and progress are met with:
  • Individualized Education Program (IEP). ...
  • Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE). ...
  • Least Restrictive Environment (LRE). ...
  • Appropriate Evaluation. ...
  • Parent and Teacher Participation. ...
  • Procedural Safeguards.

What skills are important for teachers of children with autism spectrum disorders? ›

  • 10 Characteristics of Great Autism Support Teachers.
  • Empathy. Empathy is a must! ...
  • Patience. Patience is a virtue! ...
  • Knowledge. Staying knowledgeable on diagnoses and disorders that students have in a teacher's classroom is important. ...
  • Attentiveness. ...
  • Curiosity. ...
  • Adaptive. ...
  • Creative.

What are some skills that you think we should teach students with disabilities who choose to go on to college? ›

Teach students self-determination and self-advocacy skills.

Students will need to be comfortable advocating for themselves and making their own decisions when they're in college or another postsecondary education setting. These skills can be taught by mentors, educators, family members, and other self-advocates.

What are the six domains that special education teachers are expected to have knowledge of to become better prepared to serve students with physical and health disabilities? ›

Comprehensive Special Education Evaluation: Six Areas of Academic and Functional Skill
  • Academics.
  • Cognitive Learning.
  • Communication.
  • Independence and Self-Determination.
  • Physical and Health.
  • Social and Emotional Learning.

What are the most important skills for a teacher of students with severe 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 do you hope to contribute to the special education field? ›

Example: ”As a special ed teacher, I hope I'm making contributions each day in the classroom. My most important mission is to help every student learn based on their needs and abilities. If I accomplish this each day, I am very satisfied. What I bring to the school is my experience and skills in this area.

What disposition and traits will you need as a future teacher to meet the needs of the learners? ›

Candidates a) demonstrate their commitment to student learning, b) promote student self-determination and autonomous functioning, and c) demonstrate high expectations for ALL students.

What skills or attributes you believe are necessary when working in student support services? ›

Must possess excellent assessment, case management, crisis intervention, interpersonal, conflict mediation, and communication skills. Must possess the ability to conduct individual and group counseling sessions, assessments, workshops, and activities for students and their families.

What skills will teachers need to work with students who have this disability? ›

When teaching job skills to students with disabilities, it's important to start with soft skills. These are the basic interpersonal skills that everyone needs in order to succeed at work. They include things like teamwork, communication, problem-solving, self-determination, and time management.

What is my goal as a special education teacher? ›

A special education teacher's goal should always be to advocate for individualized education for all students with disabilities. Teaching your students to advocate for themselves as they get older is critical as well.

What are the 5 qualities of a good teacher? ›

top 5 qualities and characteristics of a good teacher.
  • Patient and approachable. They say that 'patience is a virtue', and this couldn't be more true for teachers. ...
  • Enthusiastic. ...
  • Strong communication skills. ...
  • Strong knowledge and a solid education. ...
  • Disciplined and professional.
Mar 1, 2022

What do you consider to be the four most important attributes of an effective teacher? ›

Although there are many different ways to teach effectively, good instructors have several qualities in common. They are prepared, set clear and fair expectations, have a positive attitude, are patient with students, and assess their teaching on a regular basis.

What are some beneficial character traits for an inclusive teacher to have? ›

Teacher characteristics such as: efficient use of time; good relationships with students; provides positive feedback; has a high student success rate; and in general provides support for the students with and without disabilities.


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