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Job Profile: Special Education Teacher, Gifted and Talented

Gifted and Talented teachers are specialists within the field of Special Education who work with gifts and talented students and develop advanced curriculum that keeps students in these programs challenged. To become a teacher of the gifted, professionals must have strong communications skills and dedicate themselves to higher education. Upon completion of a gifted certification program or graduate program, teachers will be prepared to design programs with instructional modifications that are appropriate for gifted students. They will also work in coordination with other teaching professionals at their institution to plan and develop and effective educational plan. A gifted and talented teacher may spend time continuing their education by attending conferences, reading literature, and participating with general teachers in a team teaching format. In addition to working with district staff and students, a gifted and talented teacher will keep an open line of communication with parents to discuss academic progress and concerns.

Salary

The average salary within the field of Special Education can range based on specialty. Gifted and talented specialists within this field earn an average of $57,000 per year at a national level. Many different factors, including experience, education and region can all play a role in how much a Special Education teacher earns.

Beginning Salary

Beginning salaries for Special Education teachers depend on the setting in which they work. Starting salaries for elementary school specialists is $33,770 while the salary for middle school settings starts around $35,180. Special Education teachers in secondary schools have been reported to earn a starting salary of $50,810.

Key Responsibilities

Gifted and talented teachers are employed to identify the needs of talented students and then meet these needs by presenting them with advanced curriculum, challenging instruction, enrichment units, and opportunities for growth. The key responsibilities of a teacher to the gifted will include: developing program objectives the comply with district rules, developing lesson plans, implementing objectives with activities, monitoring student progress through the program, maintaining records and serving as a resource person in special education for district staff. Teachers to the gifted will also be expected to maintain their professional competence by completing professional development and continuing education courses that will stimulate growth.

Necessary Skills

Teachers in any field of education need special skills, but gifted and talented teachers need their own unique set of skills to communicate with a unique body of students and to keep them engaged. If you work as a gifted and talented teacher, you will need to possess excellent interpersonal and communication skills and the ability to perform as a leader. Teachers of the gifted also need to possess intellectual honesty and emotional stability to be effective professionals. It is also very helpful for those in the field to have a genuine interest in gifted learners and a strong belief in diversity and individualization because interests in the student body will be unique.

Degree and Education Requirements

The education requirements for all teachers in the field of special education can vary based on the state in which the teacher is licensed or certified. To become a gifted and talented teacher, you must start by attaining a Bachelor’s degree in a particular subject, elementary or secondary education Once you earn your Bachelor’s degree. and you possess your teaching certification, you will need to study for and test for an extension for gifted education before you will be hired to teach the gifted. To qualify for an extension, you have the option to complete a special certification program or to enroll in a Master’s degree program majoring in Gifted Education. Each path takes between 1 to 2 years to complete and the coursework is geared to helping teachers accommodate to students with special needs and special abilities. Most programs will require you to complete a capstone project or internship prior to graduation. To maintain a gifted education extension, you will need to complete professional development courses each 2 years.

Rewards and Challenges of This Position

Anyone who is interested in teaching the gifted should consider the pros and cons of entering the field prior to enrolling in a special higher education program. There are rewards and challenges that exist when you work in every teaching setting, but the rewards and challenges for gifted and talented teachers are unique just like the nature of the position. One of the rewards of teaching talented students is that challenging a gifted student body will allow you to challenge yourself. You can use a various of instructional methods and strategies that you may not be able to implement in a general classroom. Watching gifted and talented students progress even further and improve on their academic and social skills can also be rewarding. With the rewards come unique challenges. A gifted teacher must promote individual development, which can be difficult with growing class sizes. As a resource in the field of special education, your unique responsibilities of being a resource to staff can become challenging. Many believe the additional responsibilities are worth the rewards.

Getting Started

The first step to working in special education is to earn a high school diploma and complete a higher education program. If you are wondering what steps you can take to evaluate whether or not this is the right long-term career choice, you should familiarize yourself with the classroom environment first. While you are in school to earn your teaching certification, find a teacher in your district that is willing to allow you to sit and observe the classroom for a day or a week. After you have completed observations, you can truly decide if this is the type of instruction that you are suited for. As you are earning your degree, look for volunteer opportunities to add to your professional resume that will strengthen it. Join a professional teaching organization, like the National Association for Gift Children, and show your interest in scholarship. It can also help to prepare two sample print lessons so that you are ready to showcase your skills when you sit for interviews.

Future Outlook

It is always important to consider future outlook in a field before you dedicate your time and money to higher education. The job outlook for specialists within this field of special education are excellent compared to outlook throughout all of the Education sector. With more institutions recognizing the need for gift education programs, the supply of positions available throughout the nation will continue to grow. If you are certified to work as a gifted and talented teacher, you may be able to find openings in elementary schools, middle schools, secondary schools and with government agencies as well. The demand between each of these settings can vary based on location.

Gifted and talented teachers must be able to help students stay motivated and tap into this motivation when they are being challenged with curriculum. As a professional who works with students who are capable of completing curriculum taught to higher age levels, it can be a challenging position, but also a rewarding one. Decide if this is the specialty you would like to work towards and push yourself to achieve.

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