5 Unique Challenges of Special Education in Rural Areas

Working as a special education teacher is challenging enough, but the challenges of special education in rural areas is even more so. When you live and work in an urban school district, you receive support from the school itself and the general public at large. Working in a rural area gives you less support and less funding too.

Less Attention

One of the greatest challenges of special education in rural areas is that these schools and districts put less focus on special education classes. When you work for a larger school, you may have access to resources like special education aids. Those aids work with children who need extra attention and let you focus on a larger group of kids. Working in a rural district means that you’ll have fewer resources at your disposal and that you’ll get less attention from both the school and the school district.

Resource: Top 25 Most Affordable Online Master’s in Special Education 2016

Smaller Classes

The average size of a special needs classroom varies based on the needs of the community. If you work in an urban school, you’ll find that there is a greater number of students who need help. Some schools are even large enough that those schools have multiple classes of special needs students. Those schools often divide the students into classes based on their ages or skill levels. One of the challenges of special education in rural areas is that these schools may have just one special needs classroom. Those schools require that teachers work with students of various disabilities at the same time.

Sponsored Content

Isolated Feelings

Some teachers have a hard time working in rural areas because of the isolation they feel. When you live in a larger city, you can hang out with friends, go to the movies and do dozens of other things after a long day at work. You’ll also have the chance to form connections with the other special needs teachers in your school and district. Rural districts may have a small number of schools that are spread out and limit the time that teachers from other schools spend with each other. You’ll also find limited access to after school activities too.

Less Community Support

Community involvement can make life easier for special needs teachers. The surrounding neighborhoods around your school provide you with opportunities for taking your kids for walks and doing other activities off school grounds. You can work with the community to create special programs for those students too, including programs designed to warn students of the dangers of bullying and programs that help higher functioning kids get jobs. Rural districts often have much less support from the community.

Lack of Funding

One of the greatest challenges of special education in rural areas is a lack of funding. One study found that both state and federal funding programs provide less financial assistance to special needs classes than those programs provide to more traditional classes. When your school does not have enough funding, you’ll find yourself paying out of pocket for school supplies and other things that your students need. A lack of funding can also lead to a higher ratio of students to teachers. When you have more students in your classroom than you can properly care for, you may find yourself feeling burned out and wanting to quit.

Sponsored Content

Schools offer special education classes for students suffering from disabilities and handicaps like autism, Asperger syndrome, spina bifida and other medical conditions. Teachers working in rural areas face specific challenges of special education in rural areas, including a lack of funding, less support from the surrounding community and feelings of isolation because of their location.