How to handle the SPED teacher shortage in your classroom

The beginning of the school year is always full of surprises. Your class rosters are often handed to you pretty late in the game, and you never know which students will be in your class with IEPs. Often you have another teacher to collaborate with— your SPED teacher. But with teacher shortages all over the country, more and more teachers are experiencing the effects of teacher shortages. 

But one teacher shortage that teachers especially feel is the SPED teacher shortage. Let’s dive into this challenge for schools and what tools you can use to help your day-to-day life in the classroom.

sped teacher shortage

Why is there a special education teacher shortage?

Just like the larger teacher shortage, the special education teacher shortage is a result of a few issues colliding at once:

  • Many SPED teachers are feeling burnt out after teaching through the pandemic.
  • Low pay has pushed SPED teachers to seek out different careers.
  • Fewer people are entering the workforce as teachers.

In fact, by the 2025-26 school year, the U.S. is expected to have 200,000 unfilled SPED teaching positions

How does the SPED teacher shortage affect general education teachers and students?

Nearly every classroom in the U.S. has students with an IEP, and inclusion classes are the norm for most teachers. 

SPED teachers do a lot in these classrooms:

  • Lesson planning: General Ed and SPED teachers work together to make lessons that are accessible to all members of the classroom. SPED teachers know their population– their needs, preferences, and goals. So they help to create lessons that address these things for their students.
  • Instruction: SPED teachers are invaluable to the classroom as co-teachers. Co-teaching can look like a SPED teaching a whole lesson, grab a group of students for extra help, or another professional to facilitate learning in the classroom. 
  • Assessment: Not only do SPED teachers help prepare assessments that conform to IEP requirements, but they also help administer assessments. With so many students getting extended time and pull-out testing, this frees up teachers’ time. 
  • Parent communication: SPED teachers serve as liaisons for some of the most vulnerable student populations. Increased communication with parents is key to success for students with IEPs.

Special education teachers wear a lot of hats. Students, general ed teachers, and parents suffer if there aren’t enough SPED teachers.

How can digital tools help with the SPED teacher shortage?

You will need to work more efficiently when there are not enough SPED teachers at your school. Inclusion SPED teachers must coordinate with classroom teachers and have their populations do the same work as grade-level students– only leveled. TeacherMade is perfect for this. 

TeacherMade’s Co-Teacher feature cuts down the workload for SPED teachers.

With the Co-Teacher feature, teachers can:

  • Collaborate with other teachers
  • Make copies of assignments and then edit to include accommodations
  • Administer testing and assignments from anywhere and on any timeline

When you bring a robust online teaching tool into the mix, you allow teachers to collaborate on their own schedules. This frees up more time and lets their work go further!

We talked with 7th-grade teacher Amanda Mendenhall about how she uses TeacherMade in her classroom. TeacherMade is a vital tool for collaborating with her SPED teacher.

Tell us how you save time using TeacherMade

Creating assignments one time and being able to copy the assignment for each hour of the day saves me so much time and allows me to help my students individually. I am able to take the assignment I created for the regular education learners and modify it for my special education learners. I don’t have to reinvent the wheel for each assignment. The regular education students don’t even realize the special education students have a different assignment.  

How do you collaborate with your co-teachers using TeacherMade?

I have a special education teacher and a co-teacher I work closely with on a daily basis. Before I started using TeacherMade, this was daunting and difficult. I had to share each assignment with them, they would be able to look at it, and then they had to copy it to use it. With TeacherMade, I made them co-teachers to my classwork, and they can open it and use it. The special education teacher is able to see if her students were successful or not and reassign the work if they were not successful. The special education teacher is able to comment and help the students with the modified work. They are able to see the real-time work of the students. My co-teacher is able to stay on pace with me and is able to use the assignments I use. He teaches the same class I do, so this makes his life easier since he teaches three grade levels. All three of us are able to assign the work to our Google Classroom.  

TeacherMade helps you get back to more of what you love to do– teach. Try our TeacherMade PRO trial for 30 days to see how TeacherMade can transform your classroom. (And while you’re at it, invite your inclusion SPED teacher too!)