An Inside Look at the Special Education Profession

Special education professionals work to promote students’ overall behavioral, social and academic growth. Special education professionals aide students in developing socially appropriate behavior within their family, school and community. Teachers of special education help students become more confident in their social interactions. Special education professionals administer activities that build students’ life skills.What Does the Job Entail?Are you interested in helping others? Can you handle and care for people who learn differently and have other behavioral problems? Do you want to make a difference in a young child’s life? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, then you might consider a career in special education. Below is a breakdown of the short and long-term responsibilities of a special education teacher.First and foremost, special education teachers focus on the development and academic needs of children with disabilities. They encourage learning in disabled students by implementing educational modules and behavioral techniques. Special education teachers work alone or with general education teachers to individualize lessons, develop problem-solving techniques and integrate children into group projects with other students. Furthermore, special education teachers are responsible for ensuring that the needs of disabled children are met during assessment periods.Did you know that special education teachers work with a team of professionals, qualified staff and family in order to fulfill their job requirements? It is true. In fact, special education teachers work in conjunction with these entities to create an Individualized Education Program (IEP) for each student. An IEP is designed in collaboration with a child’s parents, school principal, social worker, speech pathologist and general education teacher to ensure effective implementation. An IEP targets a student’s needs and growth areas for maximum response. The specialized goals set by the IEP are woven throughout all aspects of a child’s daily activities. Teachers of special education must monitor a child’s setbacks and progress and report back to parents and administrators. Planned goals and tasks are outlined for family members to refer to while a student is at home as well.The types of disabilities a special education teacher might encounter are difficult to predict. For one, the qualifications for special education services vary greatly from mild disabilities to extreme cases of mental retardation or autism. Types of disabilities include, but are not limited to, the following: speech impairments, hearing disabilities, emotional disturbances, orthopedic impairments, brain trauma cases, blindness, deafness and learning disabilities.Do You Exhibit These Qualities?Now that you have an idea of the job’s demands, let’s see if you have the right qualities to be a special education teacher.Recognize the symptoms and needs of special needs studentsPatienceAbility to work with one or more parties to achieve short-term and long-term goalsStrong communication skillsAbility to motivate othersAbility to multi-taskKnowledge of the most recent education modules, medical research and behavioral practicesCreativityKnowledge of the latest medical technology relevant to special educationTaking the Next Step toward a New CareerOnce you have decided to enter the field of special education, you will need to follow several steps. Due to the specialization of the field, special education teachers in all 50 states must receive licensure before employment. Licensures are approved by each state’s board of education, and the requirements for certification differ between states. Nevertheless, the growing shortage of special education teachers has led institutions of higher education to offer more special education degree and certification programs. In fact, special education degrees are offered at the bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral levels throughout the nation. Not to mention, the booming field of distance learning has made certification more accessible from any location in the United States.In many cases, hopeful special education professionals do not meet the requirements of special education licensure due to their prior completion of degree programs outside of the field of education. Therefore, several states have begun to offer alternate forms of certification. The hope of these programs is to attract new special education professionals and fill the growing need for teachers. The chance to positively impact the lives of special needs children is one of the driving motivations and benefits of entering this field.After several years, some special education teachers look for new opportunities within their field. In the most common situations, special education professionals transfer to administrative or supervisory positions. Others, after receiving a higher degree, become college professors and educate new students in the field of special education. Experienced teachers of special needs students have also moved up to serve as mentors to incoming special education teachers.As for the future of special education and employment, there are many changes on the horizon. Most significantly, the job market in special education, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), is projected to “increase faster than the average of all occupations by 2014.” Due to the new emphasis on education and training in legislature, special education professionals will become even more valued.Can I Make a Living as a Special Education Teacher?As mentioned previously, the special education job market is on the rise. In 2004, the BLS reported 441,000 employed special education teachers in the nation. While only 6 percent worked within private schools, over 90 percent were employed by public schools or districts. In rare cases, special education professionals were involved in home or hospital care.Several factors determine a special education teacher’s financial compensation. Such factors include experience, educational background, area of specialty and geographical location. In May 2004, the BLS reported the following breakdown of median annual earnings of special education teachers:Preschool, kindergarten and elementary school level: – $43,570Middle school level: – $44,160Secondary school level: – $45,700
Special education teachers receive increases in salary through additional involvement in their schools’ educational activities and through coaching school athletic teams. In some districts, being a mentor to a new special education teacher carries additional monetary benefits. However, the most common way to increase earnings is through the completion of a higher degree, which can also make a teacher’s instruction more credible and valuable.

Non-boundary Governance of Entrepreneurship Education within Higher Education

IntroductionThe focus of entrepreneurship and innovation education and research at institutions of higher education ipso facto implies a wish to enhance the quality of graduate and post-graduate business venturing prospects as well as business know-how in the normally pre-entrepreneurial stage. This should happen within a sense-making framework that integrates the research and education agenda for graduate entrepreneurship. Further, an entrepreneurship and innovation education and research approach should be followed that guide the content of the competitive landscape in which the prospective entrepreneur will function and not lag behind and thereby looses its relevance.Of particular importance to entrepreneurial education lies the ability of institutions of higher education to shift and circulate information and technologies across faculties despite different academic disciplines, professional codes, and academic language that act as academic venture boundaries. These boundaries frustrate the need to integrate entrepreneurship education throughout a higher education institution, thus inhibiting the smooth functioning of entrepreneurial education. Thus, a need exists to overcome these barriers by amalgamating the various faculties socially across faculties whereby entrepreneurial educators could play “bridging roles” by acting as “boundary spanners” between faculties and forming close cohesive networks through the whole institution. This will enable educators in entrepreneurial higher education to link otherwise unconnected faculties to facilitate the development of unique knowledge and access to special knowledge and opportunities. This create an advantage over the traditional structural design where educators were only part of a specific faculty cohesive group.In the new economy, technology and knowledge production on which it is based, have become an intrinsic part of the economy. As a result, it may be envisaged that education and research in institutions of higher education will need to support the whole technology development process, which also include the process of innovation. In this regard, it may be more appropriate to develop education and research policies that addresses the whole technology-innovation chain instead of merely the research-development chain, as the research-innovation chain involves taking ideas, turning them into technologies and taking these, through research and development, out of the laboratory and proving them in real-world situations.PurposeThe aim of this paper is to propose an educational governance framework for entrepreneurship and innovation at institutions of higher education to foster the upgrading of entrepreneurial competencies in students whilst preserving the traditional academic competencies of students and the provision of unique entrepreneurial opportunities to students to perform entrepreneurial tasks.Non-boundary governanceFirstly, with regards to the governance of entrepreneurship education at higher education institutions it is proposed that it should be managed by an “inter-faculty-inter-industry committee” (boundary-spanning leadership is provided) in order to achieve a greater measure of integration (common building blocks is created) in terms of generic entrepreneurial skills requirements that cross over academic disciplines, whilst simultaneously making provision for the unique disciplinary requirements and needs of specific disciplines. This implies a shift away from the traditional independent faculty approach (functional myopia) which lacks commonly shared interests that is adopted by most universities and substituting it for a new re-configured structure able to create entrepreneurial value through a holistic, yet focussed approach (integrated birds eye view) among various faculties. This largely represents the antithesis of the traditional academic governance approach followed at the majority of institutions of higher education. However, it is considered necessary, as it is able to strike out higher potential for entrepreneurship and innovation directions through the whole academic supply chain. In essence a virtual horizontal department – operating on the basis of value chains – is created, without necessarily increasing the staff operational cost to the institution. Creating a virtual horizontal department will ensure that all employees (lecturing staff) interpret the market signals better, and ensure that customer and entrepreneurial concerns become known to all faculties, regardless of their function in the university leading to a better customer focus. By establishing an inter-faculty-inter-industry committee, opportunity is created for healthy and critical curriculum content debate (knowledge interaction), whilst module developers become better informed on borderline subjects and aspects. Even more essential is the protection that will be provided to ensure that the disciplinary, inter-disciplinary and trans-disciplinary entrepreneurship field of study is not vulnerable to the “tactic of isolation” by claiming academic ownership in one faculty.Secondly, entrepreneurship and innovation cannot flourish within institutional isolation. Cross-fertilisation of national and international academic and industry business networks is required not only to build leading edge relevant curriculum content, but also to keep up to date with the dynamics in the field. In this regard it would be important to create entrepreneurial knowledge champions in each of the faculties, whilst still operating under the academic guidance of an Entrepreneurial Centre of Excellence that could coordinate all activities and ensure proper co-operation between faculties. In essence, the Entrepreneurial Centre of Excellence’s focus is to orchestrate the entrepreneurial functions in all the faculties. This will further ensure that the “big divide” in entrepreneurial education between faculties is largely eliminated. With regard to its functions within the institution the Entrepreneurial Centre of Excellence’s role could be to:·Establish an operating and repertoire-building entrepreneurship and innovation education framework and technique approach applying to real-time methodologies;·Facilitate new entrepreneurial and innovation horizons for the institution through the diffusion of new information, the establishment of dialogue processes, and the exploration of new required dynamic capabilities;·Build entrepreneurial talent for intellectual entrepreneurship leadership; and·Establish bonding entrepreneurial networks that form the nucleus of the core of the university’s entrepreneurial value system through web-connectivity, conferences and seminars, mobilising critical mass of people for innovation and the management of Memorandums of Understanding.ConclusionThis paper emphasised the need to create governance mechanisms that could properly address the disciplinary, interdisciplinary and trans-disciplinary nature of entrepreneurial education in higher education institutions. It proposed the establishment of a joint-responsibility structure able to span the entrepreneurial holes in institutions of higher education whilst receiving guidance from a centrally Centre of Excellence that could coordinate all entrepreneurial education and ensure cooperation by all academic faculties. Implementation of these proposals could be done at minimum cost to the institution.