The Dyslexia Association of Singapore (DAS) acknowledges that supporting children with special needs can be challenging (Professionals working with special needs kids face burnout: Poll; April 25).
Several studies have revealed a higher attrition rate among special education teachers than general education teachers. When reviewing the possible reasons for this, the lack of proper staff development training and support from administrators often surface.
It is important for special education teachers to be supported with adequate and appropriate training to deal with the pressures they face.
Research on training for teachers and pre-service teachers often highlights the positive influence of mentoring. In recent years, coaching too has gained prominence in helping teachers of varied experience levels advance in their roles.
In addition to formal training, DAS invests in providing our educational therapists with ongoing mentoring and coaching. Besides learning from others, our educational therapists are also groomed to enhance their knowledge and skills by acting as buddies for newer teachers.
Such developmental support, coupled with the option to decide on their desired areas of development and training, resonates with our educational therapists' sense of purpose and passion to contribute.
It has helped DAS significantly in keeping our staff.
Studies have also cautioned employers against being complacent and relying only on providing upgrading opportunities to teachers.
It is vital for teachers, especially those in special education, to feel heard and be encouraged to promote their well-being. A job satisfaction survey of our teaching staff received a high response rate, underscoring the importance of job satisfaction.
Many stress factors can make special education teachers feel burnt out and disempowered, including a heavy load of paperwork, lack of preparatory time, the increasing complexity of learning, behavioural challenges in the classroom and rising expectations of student outcomes.
To help them overcome these challenges, organisations must consistently provide sufficient training and support.
Geetha Shantha Ram (Ms)
Dyslexia Association of Singapore