What is a Special Education Teacher?

A special Education teacher is a highly trained, caring, professional that helps students reach their fullest potential. Teachers in this fulfilling and rewarding career prepare, adapt, and deliver instructional materials to students who have a disability. Special Education teachers work in public or private school’s and help students with special needs – including behavioral disorders, intellectual disabilities, and physical disabilities that create academic challenges.

Michigan college students explain why they are becoming a Special Educator.

Special Education Teacher Jobs

A young white woman with short brown hair and glasses stands in a classroom. She wears a blue lanyard around her neck and holds notebooks and files, all in a circular frame. A Special Education Teacher

How to Start Your Special Education Journey

Step 1: Earn a Bachelor’s Degree in Special Education or a related field 

Step 2: Complete a Teacher Preparation Program (TPP) in Special Education

  • The TPP will teach you classroom management, teaching strategies for children with disabilities, and more.
  • When the TPP is completed, students must talk with their Michigan Preparation Provider about when to take the required testing.

 

Step 3: Complete required reading courses (6 semester credit hours for elementary teachers and 3 semester credit hours for secondary teachers)

Step 4: Required MTTC Testing

Questions regarding placement, assignment, role and services allowed for individuals working under either of these options should be directed to the Office of Special Education at MDE-OSE@Michigan.gov.

Associations to Support You

Scholarships & Grants For Special Education Teachers

Michigan Reconnect is a scholarship program that pays you to attend your in-district community college tuition free or pays up to the in-district rate if you attend a community college where you’re considered out-of-district. Applicants must be 25 years old to apply.

Ensures all eligible Detroit residents have a tuition-free path to a degree. The student should check with the school to ensure their degree is pell-eligible. This scholarship cannot cover programs that are not Pell-eligible. Detroit Promise funding is not competitive; every student who registers and meets the requirements will receive funding if their college determines they have an eligible funding gap.

Amount: up to $4,000/year

Amount: up to $17,500

Amount: $9,600 Stipend

Need help paying for college? Fill out the FAFSA – Federal Student Aid – form each year in October, and you may qualify for loans to help cover college tuition.

Free College Opportunities

Dual Enrollment & Early Middle College Options for High School Students

Dual Enrollment Allows students to earn college credit (up to 10 courses) while in High School at no cost between 9th-12th grade. The classes that students are eligible for must not be offered by the high school or PSA and must lead towards postsecondary credit, accreditation, certification, and/or licensing. 

How to apply – Students are to talk with their high school advisor on eligibility, application, deadlines, and college course options.

Early Middle College (EMC) is a Michigan Department of Education approved five-year program of study.

EMCs work closely with certain colleges to provide students with an opportunity earn a high school diploma and one or more of the following:

  • 60 transferable college credits
  • An associate degree
  • A professional certification
  • The Michigan Early Middle College Association (MEMCA) technical certificate
  • Participation in a registered apprenticeship

Michigan List of EMC’s

Volunteer to Gain More Experience!

Get hands-on experience and find a classroom near you that is in need of a volunteer!

Job Shadow a Special Education Teacher

To participate in a job shadow, reach out to a school district and request to job shadow a Special Education Teacher for a day.

Each school district has their own policy when it comes to job shadowing, but you may need a State ID or a driver’s license to participate.

College Program Information

Click a point on the map to find degree programs, scholarships, grants, and organizations to join!

Assistive Tech Used in the
Special Education Classroom

In Special Education classrooms, assistive technology creates an inclusive environment, tailored to support students with diverse needs. Technology is used to increase, maintain, or improve functional capabilities for a child with disabilities with both communication and visual aids.

Digital Interactive Tools Supporting Students

Michigan’s kids with seeing impairments are learning at a whole new level with this tech breakthrough. 

Great Assistive Technology Available:

  • Visual Aids
    Digital tools include graphic organizers, visual schedules, and visual timers that help students understand and organize information.
  • Text-to-Speech & Text-to-Text tools
    Text-to-speech software reads written text aloud, and speech-to-text converts spoken language into written text to help students with reading difficulties, dyslexia or other language challenges.
  • Screen Readers
    The software reads aloud content displayed on a computer screen used for students with visual impairments. It allows students to access digital content and navigate through applications, websites, and documents.
  • Adaptive Keyboards & Mice
    Adaptive keyboards include larger keys, modified layouts, or alternate input methods like switches and joysticks to help students with motor impairments. Adaptive mice help accommodate different levels of dexterity.
  • Interactive Whiteboards & Touch Screens Devices
    Students interact with digital content in a tactile and
    engaging manner. This technology is helpful for students who learn better through hands-on activities and visual impairments.

Where you can find these items:

Michigan Department of Education – Low Incidence Outreach – (MDE-LIO):
Provides resources and workshops for assistive technology for students with visual impairments. 

Alt+Shift
Allows Michigan’s public k-12 schools to borrow assistive technology for short-term use.

The accessibility of these learning tools, through innovations like the Kasi system, an audio-based augmented reality interactive system, enhances learning experiences for students with visual impairments.

Alt Shift's Assistive Technology in the Classrom

Alt+Shift provides assistive technology to special education classrooms in Michigan. 

Special Educator’s New Tech

Bay City ISD

An “Assistive Technology Specialist” explains breakthrough tech used in Special Education. 

Special Education Story Tellers

Below are videos highlighting special education teachers throughout Michigan.
Watch to find out why they love the profession!

Novi’s Team-Teaching Approach Works!

Novi Community Schools

See why Novi students with disabilities have a 95% graduation rate using advanced techniques.

A Parents Story

Farmington High School

Michigan’s advanced Special Education teaching methods inspired Chris Littleton to have a productive and happy life.

Early Childhood Consult

Oakland Schools, MI

Special educators benefit from a very diverse career path. Danya Stump explains how her unique profession improves the lives of teachers and students.

Early Childhood Consult

Mona Shores Middle School, MI

Thousands of K-12 general-education students are building friendships with kids that have a disability. What that does will surprise you.

Colleen Hoffer

Mona Shores Middle School, MI

Special Education Teachers are bringing in therapy dogs and seeing the benefit it brings to students.

Central Michigan University Creates Leading Edge Special Educators

Simulation classrooms and real world collaborations are boosting the skills and confidence of newly graduated teachers.

Special Educators Speak Out

The passion for teaching advances Michigan kids that have a disability. 

Young Teachers Interesting Traits

Michigan’s younger teachers have skill sets that improve the lives of children with special needs. Kanika Littleton explains how these teachers blend well with their older education peers.

Special Educators, Many Paths With Passion

Metro Detroit

Two leading school administrators explain Michigan’s career paths in special education.

Special Education Students Career Path

Central Michigan University

Fire Up Chips! Ashley Hollenbeck is blazing a career path at Central Michigan University. She explains her motivation and strategy for becoming a special educator in Michigan
 

How Special Education Has Advanced

Central Michigan University

Tech breakthroughs and new learning techniques are advancing students’ ability to see, talk, and improve their quality of life.

Mallory Bycraft

Inclusion Support Specialist, Bay City

From Miss Michigan 2019 to becoming a star teacher. Mallory Bycraft’s teaching career led to becoming an Inclusion Support Specialist. These educators help general education teachers to create individualized ways to advance students with special needs.

Gina Alexander & Cynthia Green

Detroit Public Schools Community District

A certified special education teacher and school administrator explain the passion that comes from being a special educator.

join the success

Don’t just take our word for it, hear from Michigan Teachers

A middle aged white woman with blonde hair and glasses stands in a classroom. She wears a dark orange top and a jean jacket. In the bottom left corner is a blue box with white text in it that reads "Colleen Hoffer". Michigan Special Education Teacher
A middle aged black woman stands in front of a poster if an astronaut. She wears her hair in a bun and has glasses. She is wearing a black shirt, gold necklace, and black, pink, and green sweater. She is smiling. In the bottom left corner is a blue box with white text in it that reads "Gina Alexander". Michigan Special Education Teacher
A young white woman with long blonde hair sits in a classroom. A child plays in the background. The woman wears a black turtleneck shirt, black pants, a long white cardigan, and a necklace. She is speaking animatedly. In the bottom left corner is a blue box with white text in it that reads "Mallory Bycraft". Michigan Special Education Teacher

join the success

Don’t just take our word for it, hear from Michigan Teachers

A middle aged white woman with blonde hair and glasses stands in a classroom. She wears a dark orange top and a jean jacket. In the bottom left corner is a blue box with white text in it that reads "Colleen Hoffer". Michigan Special Education Teacher
A middle aged black woman stands in front of a poster if an astronaut. She wears her hair in a bun and has glasses. She is wearing a black shirt, gold necklace, and black, pink, and green sweater. She is smiling. In the bottom left corner is a blue box with white text in it that reads "Gina Alexander". Michigan Special Education Teacher
A young white woman with long blonde hair sits in a classroom. A child plays in the background. The woman wears a black turtleneck shirt, black pants, a long white cardigan, and a necklace. She is speaking animatedly. In the bottom left corner is a blue box with white text in it that reads "Mallory Bycraft". Michigan Special Education Teacher

Questions About Your Educator Journey?