This article was published at Hamline University by Anne Kopas on April 15, 2021.
Hamline’s new special education program helps fill the urgent need for qualified special education teachers in Minnesota.
Hamline now offers initial and additional licensure in special education with specialization options in the areas of academic behavioral strategist or autism spectrum disorder. Hamline’s special education graduate programs are designed for working adults, with many courses offered online or in hybrid format. Clinical experiences are customizable to meet each student’s needs.
Starting fall term 2021, students with a bachelor’s degree can begin the initial special education license, blending general foundational education courses with special education-specific courses.
Autism Spectrum Disorder and Academic Behavioral Strategist License
Then, starting summer 2022, teachers can earn an additional license in autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or as an academic behavioral strategist (ABS).
The ASD license will prepare teachers to address the needs of autism-spectrum learners, including strategies for communicating with both students and their families, as well as the specific abilities and challenges of this population.
The ABS license prepares teachers to manage today’s diverse classrooms more broadly. The license positions teachers for a variety of classroom roles; they’ll gain the skills to address the needs of students with learning or other disabilities, along with general strategies for ensuring classrooms remain a safe, encouraging environment for all students.
Statewide special education shortage
As the demand for special education teachers grows, schools are struggling to fill open positions. In 2020, the Minnesota Professional Educators Licensing and Standards Board identified academic behavioral strategy as a statewide shortage area. With a special education license, teachers can position themselves as competitive candidates for top roles.
The Hamline School of Education and Leadership’s advocacy-based approach to learning has gained attention statewide: Over the past six years, three of Minnesota’s Teachers of the Year have been Hamline alumni.
“These new special education programs will address critical areas of need, while also building on HSEL’s central emphasis: equity and advocacy for all students and families, particularly those who have been historically marginalized or underserved,” said Joe Lewis, associate professor and department chair for the School of Education and Leadership.
Coursework encourages teachers to find ways to address today’s education issues, like the opportunity gap. Special education licensure prepares teachers to make a real difference in the lives of students whose abilities are too-often overlooked, said Lewis.
“Our graduates will have the knowledge, skills, and dispositions they need to make a difference in the world, one student and one family at a time,” said Lewis.