The Qualities of a Special Ed Teacher: What It Takes To Be Great

Across many grade levels and areas of education, teachers are the cornerstone of children’s development. Teachers offer inspiration and encouragement to give students the opportunities to achieve success both inside and outside of the classroom. While just about anyone can be good at dispensing knowledge, it takes special talents and skills to be an effective teacher. A good teacher provides more than just knowledge by showing students how to engage and become lifelong learners. Good teachers at any level have the ability to drive students towards their goals and dreams.

While all teachers are special people who help nurture and guide students, special education teachers must go beyond that to reach their students. When it comes to children with special needs, special educators must possess different qualities to help them overcome physical and cognitive disorders to achieve success. There are great online graduate programs in special education to help train teachers to find success with a diverse population of students. While training and education help build a solid foundation for special education teachers, there are some traits that you must also have. Let’s take a look at some of the qualities of a special ed teacher.


When dealing with children with special needs, it is imperative that you are patient. Since students with disabilities and other circumstances can take longer to perform specific tasks, understanding and patience are critical for development. No matter how long something takes, a special educator must have the ability to give the child the time and space to complete the task. Aside from instruction and application, a special education teacher must also make time to learn about the social and emotional needs of each student to craft an effective learning environment.


Teachers of all kinds of students must learn to be organized. However, for teachers who have special needs students, organizational skills are even more critical. As a special ed teacher, there will be endless forms, documents, and learning plans to keep up with a reference frequently. Aside from the paperwork aspect, however, many special needs students require structure and routine to be successful. This will require any special ed teacher to be keenly aware of organization and planning.


Regular classroom teachers are responsible for keeping 30 or more kids engaged at one time with creative lessons. While this is a daunting task, it can be made even harder when the students have special needs. All students have different learning styles and prefer specific methods of instruction, however, students with special needs also have disabilities and other issues that require an additional layer. Special education teachers must be very creative in order to accommodate the needs of all their special populations. Special educators must find new techniques and methods almost daily to help each child be successful.


If you have signed up to be a special education teacher or are pursuing a special education degree, you already understand the importance of acceptance. Special educators work alongside students with various needs all day long. It is imperative that teachers accept all children and interact with them with dignity and respect. Creating a sense of value within the classroom is key for these students, and acceptance is critical for giving them the maximum chance of success throughout life.

Special education teachers require several skills and qualities that might differ from those required of traditional educators. Special educators play a vital role in the classroom and must work extremely hard each day to reach students with exceptional needs. Students with physical and emotional disabilities require a teacher that is accepting, patient, creative, and organized.

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