How to Become a Special Education Supervisor

Sandra Burns
Sandra Burns
Elementary school principal; M.A. Ed. Administration & Leadership K-12, Special Education Supervision K-12

What Does a Special Education Supervisor Do?

Just as starting a career in special education takes a lot of thought and consideration, extending your qualifications takes just as much time and thought before taking the next leap to obtain a supervisory certificate in special education. Several responsibilities fall on the shoulders of a special education supervisor.

Special education supervisors coordinate the mandated training of teachers and support staff with special education programing and students’ needs. As administrators, they provide leadership and utilize decision-making skills to oversee the instructional programs and offerings for an entire school, district, and special education system.

In addition, a special education supervisor, also called a special education director, develops educational plans for students with special needs, and they work closely with teachers, parents, and other school administrators to provide the best education experience possible.

A special education supervisor also:

  • Attends all IEP meetings/the district’s LEA as final decisions for programming are left up to the supervisor
  • Develop policies and procedures to identify student needs and provide Individualized Education Programs
  • Set and stick to special education budgets
  • Coordinate parent and community relations
  • Compile and maintain special education records
  • Key players to hiring staff/observe and evaluate special education teachers

Special Education Supervisor Requirements: Skills

Requirements needed to become a special education supervisor go beyond a bachelor’s degree. Holding a master’s degree in special education, or something related, and earning a supervisor certification will equip a special education teacher to become a special education supervisor. A doctorate in special education can be very beneficial for this career, but is not required.

There are much greater skill requirements that also is needed to become a special education supervisor:

  • Professionalism
  • Collaboration and communication skills
  • Adaptability
  • Listening skills
  • High level of sincere compassion

Maintaining a professional attitude and demeanor is a must in a supervisory role just as it is when you are a special education teacher. Cooperating with teachers, other administrators, parents, and community agencies is essential to collaborating and developing a supportive environment for our staff and our students. Showing compassion is essential, especially when working closely with parents and building relationships. People recognize when they are treated as an equal and when they are treated with respect.

Working closely with all IEP team members requires patience, just as these skills are needed in a special education classroom. While these skills are not something that can be taught, they certainly are skills that will make you successful in the role of being a special education supervisor.

Special Education Supervisor Requirements: Education

To work in this field, a minimum of a master’s degree in special education or in general education with emphasis in special education is required. Typically, a supervisory certificate is obtained when moving into this administrative position.

In order to earn a supervisory certificate in special education a minimum of five years of special education teaching experience with an Instructional I or II certification in special education is required.

Why Should You Consider Special Education Supervisor Jobs?

Shortages in the field of education are affecting not only the state we live in but also the United States as a whole. This shortage is creating a high demand for teachers and administrators all sorts, with many states identifying special education as a field of great concern. When first beginning your career in special education, what was your “why” as to the reason you wanted to become a special education teacher and have special education teacher jobs?

When you step into the role of becoming a special education supervisor your reason as to why you wanted to pursue special education is amplified as you have a greater impact than just the students in your classroom. You have the opportunity to impact all students within a district with special needs and lead the team of teachers who work with our students with disabilities. As a special education supervisor the opportunity is there to be the voice for all of the students with disabilities within your community.

How to Become a Special Education Supervisor?

If you are at the point in your career where you want to become a leader within the special education field, and have received your level two certification in teaching, the very first step would be to reach out to other special education supervisors. This will allow you to ask genuine questions that are concerning to you and open your mind to what it is like to be a special education supervisor.

Next, find the college that best fits your learning style and is flexible with what works for you. Some programs offer all online and virtual learning and others that have evening classes that meet face to face.

Knowing what works for you and your schedule will help you find the perfect program to enroll in. Once you find the school you wish to enroll in, you may want to look into tuition reimbursement from your district.

Reviewing their policies may help the cost that goes along with furthering your education.
Becoming a special education leader and joining the admin team requires one to have compassion and creativity. This, without a doubt, is a premium in this field, which sometimes can make special education jobs more challenging, but it also makes the career deeply rewarding.

Leading with your heart, following regulations and policy, and always doing what is best for the child will always guarantee success and a rewarding outcome.

Interested in becoming a special education supervisor and want to further your education? Check out our available special education graduate programs and get started today!

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