Choosing a career in the educational field can allow aspiring teachers and administrators to make a positive difference in the lives of children and adolescents.
Educators who specialize in working with students with learning or developmental disabilities can often open up new windows of opportunity that can have an impact throughout the lives of their students.
Numerous books have been written about the joys and challenges of teaching children with learning disabilities. Here are five must-read essentials for students interested in a career in special education.
A Mind at a Time
by Mel Levine
One of the top recommended books by the Dyslexia Help staff at the University of Michigan, “A Mind at a Time” was first published in 2003 and was one of the first works to challenge the idea of standardized education. Rather than investing in one-size-fits-all teaching strategies, Levine argues for a personalized approach to education that takes the strengths and potential of each student into account when designing teaching plans for the classroom. Levine’s ideas have been implemented in special education programs across the U.S. and have had a lasting impact on the way in which children learn and grow.
Whole Brain Teaching for Challenging Kids
by Chris Biffle
Published in 2013, “Whole Brain Teaching for Challenging Kids” offers a new and comprehensive way to engage with students. The book is especially useful for special education teachers. By providing alternative methods for connecting with students and finding ways to make the learning process fun, the Whole Brain Teaching (WBT) method can reduce frustration and increase engagement among children and adolescents with learning disabilities. Biffle provides a thorough overview of WBT and offers step-by-step guidance on implementing this cutting-edge teaching method in the classroom, allowing teachers to make the most positive impact on the lives of their students.
The Complete Learning Disabilities Handbook: Ready-to-Use Strategies and Activities for Teaching Students with Learning Disabilities. Third Edition
by Joan M. Harwell and Rebecca Williams Jackson
“The Complete Learning Disabilities Handbook” has been a trusted reference for teachers and administrators for decades. The third edition was published in 2008 and offers up-to-date information on the best practices and most effective strategies for educating students with learning disabilities. Tips on motivating students, boosting self-esteem and combating attention deficits in the classroom can provide real help for newcomers to the field of special education and can ensure the most positive learning experience for students in achieving academic success.
Using Technology to Engage Students with Learning Disabilities
by Billy Krakower and Sharon LePage Plante
Part of the Corwin Connected Educators Series, “Using Technology to Engage Students with Learning Disabilities” provides a cutting-edge look at the options available to teachers in the modern educational environment. A complete overview of assistive technologies can provide teachers with the information needed to implement these tools in the special education classroom. Computerized learning strategies can be especially important for students with autism-spectrum disorders who may experience frustration when trying to communicate one-on-one with teachers and other adults. The strategies described by Krakower and Plante can typically be put in place with only a minimal financial investment on the part of the school or the educator.
There’s a Boy in Here: Emerging from the Bonds of Autism
by Judy Barron and Sean Barron
“There’s a Boy in Here” has been included on the recommended reading list of the National Leadership Consortium on Developmental Disabilities thanks in part to its poignant account of the experiences of a family dealing with autism. Judy Barron chronicles the struggle to reach her son, Sean, as he retreated further into the repetitive behaviors and rituals of autism. Sean also shares his stories to provide a balanced view of the educational challenges and reasons behind his behaviors. While most therapists would disagree with the implied conclusion that autism can be cured, the book does provide added insights into the family dynamics and challenges facing students with autism-spectrum disorders.
Taking time out to read these seminal works in special education can provide students with a clearer picture of the challenges and rewards of a career in this field. A bachelor’s or master’s degree program can prepare aspiring educators to make a positive difference in the lives of children with learning disabilities and other special needs.