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Leadership in Special Education: Self-Assessment Essay

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Updated: Mar 12th, 2020

Teaching special education is one of the challenging professions in education sphere. Nonetheless, it can be one of the fascinating occupations, if individuals approach the challenges that arise in this field with positive mind (Cheney & Barringer, 1995).

Lessons taught in special education are different compared to those taught in regular education. One of the ways through which a person can serve as a leader in special education is by establishing new methods of information presentation. For instance, one may assist students suffering from visual processing challenges by giving them assignments that have font size they can process comfortably.

Moreover, one may lead by enlightening other teachers on how to examine students and to change their activities whenever they show signs of fatigue. Encouraging students to work hard would go a long way towards enhancing their performance (Cheney & Barringer, 1995). Besides, one may involve students in coming up with new teaching methods.

Students with disabilities have been receiving poor services in special education, for decades now. Majority of professionals in institutions of special education do not pay attention to interests of individual students. Instead, they generalize their interests and offer common services despite some students requiring intensive care (Cheney & Barringer, 1995).

One of the factors that motivate me to be a leader in special education is the desire to make changes in teaching methods applied in special education. If institutions would focus on the needs of individual students, they would equip them with skills that would help the students to secure jobs in the future.

Self-awareness and self-control are among the qualities that a leader in special education ought to possess. Individuals working in special education demonstrate self-awareness and self-control whenever they manage to deal with their emotions. At times, students with disabilities act in a manner that provokes their teacher. In such a case, the teacher ought to exercise restraint when dealing with the students (Cheney & Barringer, 1995).

Teachers need to scrutinize their students to identify and address emotional distresses that might affect learning environment. Teachers demonstrate self-awareness when they apply positive reinforcement strategies to improve the learning environment.

Understanding about change process helps teachers to cater for needs of individual students during change implementation process. A leader in special education requires involving all stakeholders when implementing changes. The leader ought to create awareness on the importance of the intended changes and stages involved in the implementation process (Stuecher & Suarez, 2000).

This would help the leader to gain support from the stakeholders. Requesting students to share their experience of the implemented changes would help a leader to make alterations in areas that the students lodge complaints. It would be prudent to seek opinions from students, even though the leader has the right to dictate on changes to implement.

Having positive perspective towards a culture practiced in an institution offering special education contributes to the success of the program. Culture plays a significant role in promoting cooperation between staff. For instance, when teachers agree on certain practices, they freely assist one another in case of problems.

Leaders in special education ought to do away with cultures like westernized blinders, which seeks to explain why a child is born with disability. In stead, they need to accommodate all students and to cope with their disabilities.

To assist students, leaders in special education need “…create a bridge from the culture of schooling to parent’s multifaceted perceptions of the disability” (Stuecher & Suarez, 2000, p. 290). This would help to nurture self-assurance condition in institutions that offer special education.

Conflicts and resistance are common phenomena in special education (Heifetz, Kania & Kramer, 2004). Leaders in special education require having skills in conflict management to address these phenomena. Arbitration is the best approach of responding to resistance and conflicts in special education. Majority of the conflicts arise as parents try to make their inputs accommodated in schools (Heifetz, Kania & Kramer, 2004).

At times, parents claim that institutions do not serve the interests of their children. Therefore, they try to give advice on changes that require being implemented. A leader may realize that it is hard to implement proposed changes, therefore, differing with parents. Bringing the conflicting parties together to evaluate feasibility of the proposed changes would help to solve the conflict and resistance.

Heifetz, Kania and Kramer posit, “Adaptive leadership is based on the premise that leadership is more of a process rather than individual personal capabilities” (2004, p. 24). Consequently, adoptive leadership would contribute to the success of special education by focusing on challenges facing institutions of special education and applying mechanisms that have worked before to address the challenges.

Leaders that use adaptive leadership to address challenges facing institutions of special education manage to lure all stakeholders to cooperate in solving the challenges. The leadership leads to changes that meet the needs of all stakeholders; therefore, avoiding chances of resistance and conflict between parties.


Cheney, D. & Barringer, C. (1995). Teacher competence, student diversity, and staff training for the inclusion of middle school students with emotional and behavioral disorders. Journal of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders, 3(3), 174-182.

Heifetz, R., Kania, J. & Kramer, M. (2004). Leading boldly. Stanford Social Innovation Review, 2(3), 20-32.

Stuecher, U. & Suarez, J. (2000). Research in special education from the perspective of a country in development: Ecuador. Exceptionality, 89(1), 289-298.

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