TEACHERS AS LEADERS:
Creating the Next Generation of Leaders in Special Education
Special education programs at the University of Tennessee are designed to give teacher candidates a strong foundation in both general and special education pedagogical knowledge and skills. The program offers a bachelor’s degree, two types of master’s degrees, an Education Specialist degree and a Doctor of Philosophy in education with a concentration in special education. Additionally, both bachelor’s and master’s degrees are offered in education of the deaf and hard of hearing. Special education features collaboration with other teacher education programs and, consequently, is housed in the Department of Theory and Practice in Teacher Education (TPTE) within the College of Education, Health, and Human Sciences (CEHHS).
In addition to the degrees offered, UT’s special education program is designed to provide initial teacher-career certification/licensure. Students gain knowledge of best practices in teaching, research-based strategies, student learning, classroom management, transition, and serving students with disabilities in a variety of settings. Emphasizing service delivery, classroom techniques and advanced professional skills, the program aims to produce qualified, more than certified, teachers capable of providing excellent services to students with diverse learning needs the program blends theory, research, and practice to support the immediate professional needs of teachers in all stages of their careers.
The program’s practitioner orientation and personal approach serve a critical market need by preparing future leaders in special education. Aligned with new performance-based standards set forth by the Tennessee Department of Education and the Council for Exceptional Children, the program promotes a high level of mastery of skills necessary for effective teaching and school leadership. The curriculum also emphasizes collaboration and sensitivity to prepare educators for working with and supporting parents and co-educators. Partnerships with schools create numerous opportunities for students seeking field experience and professional development. UT’s close ties to school systems and state agencies provide training as well as affiliations with prospective employers.
Special education is the field in which professionals work to provide education for children with disabilities. Sometimes the difficulty is in an academic area. Sometimes the disabilities are severe physical, mental, and emotional ones. Special education teachers help students struggling in school to become as independent as possible. The Department of Theory and Practice in Teacher Education offers three concentrations in special education.
Kimberly Wolbers, Professor
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