What supports can school leaders provide to develop effective and committed special education teachers?

Page 5: Good Job Match

student writing on whiteboardTeaching jobs vary a great deal and each presents a unique set of demands, challenges, and opportunities. One component of a new teacher induction program is to match the teacher to a position that is aligned with her experience, preparation, and preferences. A good fit between the teacher and her position establishes a foundation for success. In considering a good job match, school leaders should keep in mind:

  • Caseload Match—How well prepared the teacher is to work with the range of students she will be teaching (e.g., students with autism spectrum disorders [ASD], learning disabilities, intellectual disabilities)
  • Age/Grade-Level Match—The extent to which the teacher has preparation and experience to serve students at particular age or grade levels

A new teacher’s effectiveness and success in the classroom may depend not only on her general qualifications, but also on the fit between her particular skills, knowledge, and dispositions and the teaching position she has been hired to fill.
(Johnson, Kardos, Kauffman, Liu, & Donaldson, 2004, p. 6)
  • Content Match—The extent to which the teacher is prepared to teach the specific subject content (e.g., social studies, science, mathematics)
  • Program Model Match—How well prepared the teacher is to work in the program model or service-delivery model (e.g., co-teaching, resource, self-contained)
  • Applicant Preferences—The extent to which a specific job is compatible with the applicant’s preferences (e.g., urban/rural, school location)

Research Shows

Teachers who are well matched to their positions are more likely to experience success and remain in the field.
(Bishop, Brownell, Klingner, Leko, & Galman, 2009; Morvant, Gersten, Gillman, Keating, & Blake, 1995)

The nature of the hiring processes itself can affect how well a new teacher is matched with a position. In general, a decentralized hiring process—in which the principal, not the district, hires teachers—can help increase the possibility of a new teacher being hired in a position that is a good match. A decentralized process allows the candidate to learn more about the school and the expectations for the position through visits to the school and interviews with teachers. This process also enables current teachers and staff to learn more about the candidate.


Recall that Jamal is certified as a K–8 PE teacher and has passed the state’s special education certification test. He was hired to teach middle school students with emotional disorders in a self-contained classroom. He will have to teach his students all of the content areas (e.g., reading, social studies). To what extent does Jamal have a good job match? That is, how well do his experience, preparation, and preferences match the position he is going to fill? Explain your answer.

Jamal clearly lacks preparation and experience for this middle school assignment. He has a background in physical education, but no other formal preparation or experience in special education. Although the ages/grades he is teaching match his training, his caseload, the program model, and the content he will be teaching do not. We don’t really know what Jamal’s preferences are. Jamal studied special education readings in preparation for the test, but he clearly will have challenges addressing the needs of students with emotional disorders and also teaching content.

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