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Teacher Interview with Michael Laharty

What does it take to be a good Special Education teacher?

We have to have, in our group, broader skills as far as subject matter is concerned. We might not be as in-depth as some people, but we also need to have the awareness to, within your lesson, to work on other life lessons; social skills, problem solving, planning for the future, or self esteem kinds of questions that happen all the time. You’re going to teach from an organized lesson plan but you’re also going to be teaching from the seat of your pants lots of times. You have to be able to think on your feet: it’s a combination. You have to be organized and have a plan, but you also have to be willing at any given time to punt on that plan and then go in a broader way than you’d initially planned to go, and then hopefully get to the same point or a close point. I think you need a sense of humor and I think you need a sense of perspective. I also think if you have a connection to people within the field it can help you out because though my problems seem so overwhelming and so unique to me, you can guarantee someone else has gone through the same thing. I think you have to like kids and you have to like kids a lot, and I think you need to see that the journey is going to be a series of small steps. You’ve got to be able to see the big picture and the small picture and not be frightened by great challenges.

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