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Increasing the resiliency and retention of itinerant special education teachers
Itinerant special education teachers provide direct instruction and consultation services to students of all ages in a variety of community and school settings. Just like classroom teachers, their workload can be very stressful and challenging. Itinerant teaching requires a different skillset from classroom teaching and many of the challenges they face are very unique to the job. The training and retention of itinerant special education teachers continues to be a challenge in many areas. This study examines the unique challenges of itinerant special education teachers. Nine itinerant teachers were purposefully selected based on experience and interviewed using semi-structured interviews to examine the key stressors, current support, sense of efficacy and unmet needs related to longevity in the profession. A constant comparative method was used to identify themes in the data and those were analyzed for relationships between themes. Major findings include: the importance of support from colleagues and administration, training in relationship-based consultation and collaboration. This study focuses on the experiences of itinerant teachers who serve students in early intervention programs. As more special education students are served in the general education setting the role of itinerant special education teachers becomes more essential. The high turnover and risk of burnout that effects all special education teachers is well documented in the literature. By understanding the kind of support itinerant teachers need, this knowledge will help to reduce burnout and maintain experienced special education teachers who will provide quality services to young students and their families.