top of page
  • Teachers Collaborative @ TeachTasticIEP

Top 10 Challenges of a Special Education Teacher | Teach Tastic

Updated: May 17, 2022

It's not easy teaching special education. These brave educators face many different challenges on a daily basis, from managing difficult students to fighting for resources. They are tasked with educating some of our most vulnerable students and often do so with little recognition or support.


Teaching challenges are important things to consider for special education teachers. There are many of them and burnout is very real. It might be hard to teach day in and day out when the personal cup is not being refilled at the rate it's going out.

This article will cover the top 10 challenges faced by special education teachers. These challenges can have a significant impact on these educators, leading to high rates of teacher burnout. In order to provide a better understanding of the challenges and their implications, we'll be looking at a relevant statistic on teacher burnout.


10 Challenges of Special Education Teachers

  1. Managing difficult students: It can be very challenging to manage difficult students in a special education classroom. These students can often be disruptive and challenging to teach as a result of their disabilities.

  2. Lack of resources: Special education teachers often face a lack of resources in their classrooms. This can make it difficult to provide an adequate education for their students.

  3. Limited support from the administration: Special education teachers often don't receive the same level of support from school administration as other teachers. This can make it difficult to implement effective special education programs.

  4. Inadequate teacher training: Many special education teachers receive inadequate training in how to effectively meet the special needs of their students. This can lead to ineffective instruction and a lack of student progress.

  5. High workload: Special education teachers often have a high workload due to the nature of their job. This can lead to burnout and a feeling of being overwhelmed.

  6. Difficult parent-teacher relationships: Parents of special needs students can often be difficult to deal with. This can make it challenging for special education teachers to build positive relationships with them.

  7. Student safety: Special needs students often require extra care and supervision. This can make it difficult to ensure their safety in the classroom. Additionally, special needs students are more likely to be victims of bullying.

  8. Working with paraprofessionals: Special education teachers often work with paraprofessionals in their classrooms. This can be difficult, as the paraprofessionals may not have enough training to be effective assistants

  9. Emotional challenges: Special education teachers often deal with a lot of emotional challenges, such as burnout, compassion fatigue, and vicarious trauma.

  10. Limited professional development opportunities: There can be limited professional development opportunities available for special education teachers. This can make it difficult to keep up with new trends and best practices.

The Top 10 Challenges of Special Education Teachers can be difficult to manage. These teachers do a lot for their students and often go without the recognition or support they need. It's important to be aware of the challenges they face so that we can better support them in their work.


Annual Attrition Rate for a Special Education Teacher

The annual attrition rate for special educators is 13%, twice that of general educators. The 3-year attrition rate is about 25%, with an additional 20% transferring to general education or another special education role each year. (Simbajon, 2018)


Why do Special Education Teachers Leave Teaching?

There are many reasons why special education teachers leave the teaching profession. A study by the National Center for Education Statistics found that the four main reasons special education teachers leave are:

  • poor working conditions (including a lack of resources and support)

  • dissatisfaction with the teaching profession

  • family and personal reasons

  • career advancement (Simbajon, 2018)

While all of these factors can lead to teacher burnout, the first two are particularly relevant to special education teachers.