A Day in the Life of a SPEDucator

A Day in the Life of a SPEDucator


All teachers work hard. No teacher works harder than another. We just work hard differently. I taught general education for a year. It wasn’t my calling. Special education? THAT’S my calling. These kids are my love bugs. I love being a SPEDucator. I am a teacher, cheerleader, and advocate in the world of learning disabilities, autism, and sensory needs that others may not often understand. Have you ever wondered what a typical day in the life of a special education teacher looks like? Well, here you go! 

SPEDucator life is fueled by coffee!

6:00 a.m. You didn’t get enough sleep because you wouldn’t stop thinking about one of your student’s IEP meetings this afternoon. It’s time to get a move on no matter how tired you are. Your alarm is still blaring the opening drum solo to Van Halen’s “Hot For Teacher.” You know the one. Don’t pretend you don’t. This is not a narcissistic move. The song is just your daily positive affirmation that you are amazing even with purple eye bags that compliment the sallow skin from lack of sleep. Coffee. Now!

6:15 a.m. Shower the fastest shower in the history of showers. While you gulp your coffee between washing, rinsing and repeating, you run through your day in your head. It’s going to be a busy one. More coffee. 

7:30 a.m. Out the door. You’ve got this. No problem. You make it to school without spilling the much-beloved big gulp sized coffee on yourself and you appear as though you had an amazing four hours sleep. Not bad!

7:45 a.m. You drift into the parking lot just in time. If you don’t make eye contact with anyone, you can make it to your room and set up the visual schedules for your students before they arrive.

7:46 a.m. Dang. You made eye contact. 

8:15 a.m. RUN, don’t walk, to your classroom just as the first student and his mother arrive at the door. Your amazing paraprofessional is there to save the day and take attendance as the parent wants “just two minutes” to talk to you about her child’s services. All of the services. All. Of. Them. 

8:30 a.m. You get to teach! Woo Hoo! Teaching is just part of being a SPEDucator. Your para has a group, you have a group, your independent group is working away and…

8:31 a.m. Surprise fire drill. You have this down to a science. You grab the noise-canceling headphones for three of your love bugs. The amazing para grabs the blanket so that the students with sensory aversions to grass can stay calm. Everyone heads out the door. You quietly recite the social story that has been memorized for fire drills while you monitor the students who have been well-prepped for such a surprise to their daily schedule. 

9:30 a.m. Recess and bathroom break! As nine teachers jostle for three stalls, you notice that it is eerily quiet. It’s probably because the other teachers know you are on the hunt for a mainstream teacher for one of your students.

10:00 a.m. Back in class. Just as you begin your lesson, Johnny begins wandering the room for his weighted vest. Susie can’t find the pink pencil with the blue unicorn on it. She can’t write with the purple pencil with the orange unicorn on it. Pencil found. Weighted vest recovered. Crisis averted.

10:15 a.m. The speech therapist calls and needs to move the speech group to…now. No worries. Off to speech.

10:45 a.m. (How is it still a.m.?) Dare I say it? You get to teach! And teach you do. You teach like you have never taught before, all the way up until…

12:00 p.m. Lunch. You wave goodbye to your students as Andres approaches. He hands you a note and a blue box of macaroni and cheese – the kind that has to be cooked. The note explains that Andres has a new food aversion and this box of mac and cheese is all he can handle. His sensory needs are no one’s fault so you gladly make the macaroni and cheese in the teacher’s lounge for him.

Another day, another IEP meeting.

1:20 p.m. Remember that 2:30 IEP meeting? The one you worried about all night? The office interrupts your lesson to let you know that the parent has called to give you “advance warning” that they are bringing guests…and will be audio taping.

1:30 p.m. Phone again. It’s the general ed teacher calling to let you know she has to leave right after school today and won’t be able to attend the IEP meeting but hopes she has given you enough time to get another gen ed teacher to sit in for her. 

2:15 p.m. A saint colleague has agreed to attend the IEP meeting even though it’s April and she has attended three IEP meetings this year already. You smile and swallow the fact that you have attended three this week alone and thank her profusely for stepping up. She truly has saved you! 

2:30 p.m. IEP time. You take inventory of the participants: parents, tutor, attorney, tutor’s attorney, gen ed teacher, speech therapist, occupational therapist, adaptive PE teacher, school psychologist, principal, and you. There are more people at this IEP meeting than were at your wedding.

4:30 p.m. The IEP meeting is over. It’s amazing the things a team can accomplish when the best interest of the child is the focus. Way to go team!

5:00 p.m. You walk to your car with your teacher bag in hand and a huge smile on your face.  You wouldn’t trade your life as a SPEDucator for the world. 


A Day in the Life of a SPEDucator

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Veteran Member

Valerie is a Special Education teacher.  She loves reading, enjoying fine wines (as fine as you can get on a teacher's salary), and laughing. If she isn't in her classroom, you can find her with her feet on the pavement walking off the stress of the day or singing as loud as she can, often at the same time.

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