This post is by special guest author Dolores Troy-Quinn.
As a former principal of an ASD Nest school, I had the opportunity to hire numerous staff members as the program expanded. In my twelve-year tenure as principal I interviewed hundreds of people. Hiring the right people was the most important job I had! I learned one important trait of a good special educator.
The work of a teacher is incredibly hard. Working with special needs youngsters is extremely hard. Not everyone who has a special education license is a true special educator. Dual certification (SE/GE) makes it difficult for hiring committees to tease out the person who has the “true heart of a special educator.” I always asked teaching candidates, “Why special education?” I
wanted to delve into their intrinsic motivation to work with this population of students. This question was meant to separate the true special educator from the teacher who was looking for a job-any job! A true special educator is tenacious in his/her ability to keep looking for answers to support a student’s growth. A person who does not have a special education “calling”, may become frustrated, and ultimately, blame the student for his/her inability to learn. I found a compelling why story important in my selection process.
I’m not suggesting that every teaching candidate have all the answers. What I suggest is that a few well placed questions about a candidate’s motivation may help separate the true special educator from the person who has the license, but not necessarily, the heart of a special educator. Finding this type of special educator will reap untold benefits not only for your special needs students, but all of your students.