The Mindset of Becoming a Special Education Teacher

Keep an open mind when stepping into a classroom full of students

Hailey Webster, Junior Copy Editor

  When stepping into the world of teaching special education, flexibility is crucial. Nixa High School’s special education instructor Christin Janssen tries to keep all her students engaged in every lesson she makes. 

   “We do a lot of hands-on learning, with real-life objects and keep our students answering. We also do a lot of whole group answering and answering at the different levels that are appropriate for each of them. So we make sure to ask a variety of questions so that everyone can answer them. We try to keep it pretty interactive the whole time,” Janssen said. 

    Students thrive with hands-on learning and using real-world problems to learn life skills.

   “In math, we practice the number of the day and we do that with money and such but then we’re going to go to the football game on Friday. So we were practicing how to buy a ticket and how many tickets I need to buy for my family and how much money I need trying to make it pretty applicable to the things that they’re doing. In life skills, we practiced using the map and so we had our first-floor map and we were making the different things on it and we were practicing traveling from the bus to the classroom independently but then how to stop and ask someone for help. Looking them in the eye, asking them for help, telling them where I need to go,” Janssen said. 

      Some favorite activities and lessons to do in class are counting by 5’s math song, following directions, and practicing using the map.

   “The kids enjoy learning like they seem to have fun with their day and seeing how they can learn. They’ve grown well beyond a lot of expectations that were set for them and seeing them also start to interact with each other and interact positively with other adults and other students so seeing them kind of come out you know of just themselves but start to enjoy their community,” Janssen said.  

   The students’ path is the way the lesson is taught each day in the classroom.

   “Making lessons that incorporate all their strengths and making lessons that incorporate all of their needs because they all have different goals they’re working towards. So kind of when you’re teaching, you’re teaching the same lesson but you’re modifying it four or five different ways in the class either through the use of different materials or the different way you ask the question and the different activities you do with the materials,” Janssen said. 

   One thing to keep in mind while teaching is to be workable with every one of your students daily. 

   “Being both flexible and organized I think is best. I mean you would have to be willing to do both and use a lot of creativity and be willing to adjust all the time. So just seeing success in little things you know so being willing to not be too hard on yourself see success in the little things and adjust where it’s needed but kind of behind that you have to have a structure behind the fluidity,” Janssen said.