If you’re like most people, you go from day to day using certain skills–for the most part unconsciously–to function in life. From the moment that you wake in the morning you perform certain tasks that are usually called “life skills.” These might includes such mundane activities as making your bed, performing all your bathroom routines, making yourself meals, dressing, communication, and many others. In fact, for most people, the list is practically endless.
But what if you suffered from any of a large number of physical and/or mental disabilities that prevented you from learning these skills readily? That would make you in need of what is generally called a “life skills teacher.” And although the titles and responsibilities for this job vary from locale to locale, the basic mission of those who do the job is essentially the same: to teach those who are lacking these skills not only the skills, but handle the administrative and reporting functions of the job as well.
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Purdue University's online MSEd in Special Education offers separate tracks for initial teacher licensure, and for licensed teachers looking to add advanced endorsements. Request information to learn more.
The online MSEd in Special Education from Saint Joseph's University online MSEd in Special Education from Saint Joseph's University offers concentrations in ASD, Hearing Impairment and the Wilson Reading System®. Request information to learn more.
The Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) program at the USC Rossier School of Education is designed for aspiring K-12 teachers looking to gain the skills and knowledge needed to become great teachers and help all students succeed. In addition to earning a master's degree in a core content area, candidates have the opportunity to further specialize in special education with an Education Specialist Credential in Mild/Moderate Disabilities or gifted education with a Certificate in Gifted Education.
Fordham University's online Master of Science in Teaching program prepares aspiring teachers (grades 1–6) for initial teaching certification or dual certification in teaching and special education.
George Mason University's offers an online Master of Education in Special Education, specializing in Applied Behavior Analysis.
Types of Students and Their Needs
The students who require a life skills teacher suffer from a large number of disabilities. They are most often cognitively disabled, autistic, or have other problems. Regardless, they lack the skills necessary to take care of themselves and to get along in the real world. For this reason, these students are taught by life skills teachers.
Unfortunately, what often might appear as little more than “baby sitting” is actually anything but. Teaching life skills involves not only classroom teaching, but working with students in the “real world,” giving these students the skills they need to function. For example, the last time you went to a restaurant you didn’t need to be coached to look at a menu to determine what you wanted to eat and place your order with a server. You just did it. For those with many disabilities, you might just as well ask them to solve quantum physics as to order a sandwich.
But far more than just telling and showing students how to practice these skills in the real world, due to the disabilities being worked with life skills teachers must constantly and closely supervise students so that they not only learn what is being taught, but are also kept safe in the process. http://www.autismspeaks.org/family-services/community-connections/teaching-important-life-skills
Life Skills in the Real World
Just as those who require the services of a life skills teacher, those who work to teach these skills are equally special. A life skills teacher not only has the knowledge and capabilities to teach others, they also have the patience of saints since it is often a matter of constant repetition to teach these basic skills to such severely disabled people.
Closely related to these tasks are the numerous reporting responsibilities that allow those who love and otherwise care for the students themselves and have an interest in their progress. Many life skills teachers work for the states in which they work. Others work for private agencies who are responsible for the care of these students. It is in these capacities that life skills teachers must recognize and report on the situations of the students under their care.
The job of a life skills teacher is far from easy. It often involves days that are long and difficult, but just as is the case with many teaching jobs, the rewards of turning a student’s life around to give it more purpose is beyond any satisfaction.