Special Education and Childhood (Grade 1 - Grade 6)
Students who choose the special & childhood education program will be qualified to teach children in the elementary grades 1-6, as well as children receiving special education services (grades 1-6). This program is recommended for those who are interested in working with students with disabilities as a special education teacher, teaching in elementary education, or being highly prepared for inclusive classrooms at the childhood level (grades 1-6).
Successful completion of the program leads to New York state initial certifications in BOTH special education (grades 1-6) & childhood education (grades 1-6).
Program Curriculum and Requirements
Sixty credits of general education courses are common to all bachelor's degree programs. These courses are designed to develop the skills - critical thinking, informational literacy, communications, and the ability to work effectively with diverse groups — as well as the ethics and values that will enable students to succeed and make a difference in the lives of others.
Faculty will assist student in choosing general education courses that link to their field of education and some general education courses satisfy program requirements.
New York state requires that students in teacher preparation programs pursue an academic concentration of study. Education majors take a minimum of 12 courses (36 credit hours) and choose from one the following content areas:
- English language arts
- Social studies
Liberal arts (for B-6, special education & 1-6 and TESOL programs only).
Education coursework ranges between 36 and 42 credit hours depending on the program:
- 36: Early childhood & childhood education (B-6) and childhood and middle childhood (1-9)
- 39: Special education & childhood (1-6)
- 42: TESOL programs
These courses are designed to specifically align with the conceptual framework and mission of the College of Education and the approved national standards for each program.
Bachelor degree programs in education total between 120 and 137 credit hours, depending upon the program selected, and are comprised of a combination of general education, academic concentration and professional education courses.
All programs require comprehensive clinical field experience. The opportunity to observe and begin working with qualified teachers on various aspects of the teaching-learning process begins during the freshman year, and is required throughout the program. Field placements are aligned with coursework, include specific assignments and responsibilities, and are completed in three phases:
- Phase 1: Education Impact Field Experience - Candidates begin IMPACT placements in area schools as freshmen, minimally 20 hours each semester across five semesters. Transportation is provided to students as needed. And placements are arranged by the university in accordance with education/professional coursework and the area(s) of certification. Candidates are expected to complete all required field experience to be eligible for their teaching assistantship, establishing a comprehensive clinical experience.
- Phase 2: Teaching Assistantship - Aligned with the methods (400-level pedagogy) courses, candidates complete two placements resulting in a minimum of 60 hours in a classroom. Candidates in this phase are expected to continue to develop the competencies set forth by the program standards and to have experiences with various methodological approaches as relate to actual classroom practice and address student learning across content field and grade-level curriculum expectations.
- Phase 3: Student Teaching - Student Teaching is a culminating experience that is required of all candidates for completion of the program and teacher certification. Students will spend a total of 14 weeks student teaching (two full-time seven-week placements, one in each area of certification). The Student Teaching Handbook outlines all candidate expectations, which include planning, teaching and assessing instructional units, aligned to the curriculum and addressing student needs.
Students who wish to be certified to teach in Ontario will earn their initial New York state teacher certification and be assisted to apply through the Ontario College of Teachers for the letter of eligibility to teach in Ontario at the intermediate/senior level.
Median annual wage for an special education teacher in 2020 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Niagara University's College of Education offers a master of science in education, early childhood education and special education that leads to initial and professional New York state teacher certifications in both early childhood education (birth through grade two) and students with disabilities (birth through grade two).