As a special education teacher for gifted and talented students, you will be responsible for providing enrichment activities for students who are performing well beyond the requirements of their age and grade levels. Quite often, you will work one-on-one with these students or work with the regular classroom teacher providing the support needed. Just as teaching students with learning disabilities and behavior problems is a challenging role, so to is the teaching of gifted students. It will require you to use innovative teaching methods and be able to provide special opportunities for these students.
In order to become a special education teacher working with gifted and talented students, you do need to have a Bachelor’s degree and specific training in this area from an approved teacher preparation course. In addition, to these qualifications, you must meet the requirements for a teaching certificate in your state. For some states, this means you will have to write and pass a specific exam for special education certification. Most states accept the Praxis exam for Special Education, while other states require that you also pass the same Praxis exams as general educators. In this case teaching special education would be added to your teaching certificate as an endorsement.
It is important to check the state licensing requirements when you apply for certification to ensure you have all the necessary credentials. For example, in Minnesota all new teachers hired to teach special education classes must pass the Praxis exams for teaching the core subjects areas of Mathematics, Language Arts and Science. Although you graduate with as a generalist special education teacher, you should take the appropriate courses during your training program that will provide you with the knowledge of different methodologies involved in teaching gifted and talented students.
It is important to have a teaching internship to become a special education teacher for the gifted and talented. This term of teaching with a certified teacher will give you experience in the field as well as help you understand what types of roles you will have to fill in this position. You will have to plan a curriculum for each child you work with that keeps the child motivated and that is also in keeping with the state mandated curriculum outcomes. Many schools allow these students to progress to other grade level subjects at their own pace, but most school districts have the policy of providing challenging activities and problems for the children related to the same outcomes as the other students in the class — just at a higher level of difficulty that require higher order thinking skills. As a student teacher, you should keep a portfolio of the work you do during this internship and have it available for interviews for teaching positions that you apply for. This allows the administrator to get a glimpse of your capabilities as a teacher and can influence the decision to hire you.
Detailed record keeping is an important part of being a special education teacher for the gifted and talented. You will have to have documented proof of the child’s accomplishments and communicate with the parents on a regular basis. You will also have to attend meetings between the parents and the student’s regular classroom teacher. Preparing year long plans to map out an appropriate course of study for the student is also a necessity for this teaching position.