When you have a child or children with ADHD, chances are you will spend time working with various school personnel. The different people you meet have different responsibilities and each do a different job. Each of them can help you to help your child succeed. Knowing what the different titles and job descriptions are can help you determine who can help when something goes awry.
A teacher is defined as a person who teaches pupils in various learning and thinking skills. Elementary school teachers normally teach children all of the major subjects. In middle school and high school, teachers are often specialized, teaching one particular subject, such as Social Studies or Math. In all states, teachers are required to be licensed. Teachers have completed at least a Bachelor’s Degree and normally have undergone a teacher-training program. Some teachers have continued their education to receive a Master’s Degree.
Special Education Teacher
Special Education Teachers have gone through the same education and licensing procedures for a regular classroom teacher. Many continue their education and obtain their Master’s Degree. Special Education Teachers work with a variety of students with special needs. Students can have physical or mental disabilities, including: mental retardation, learning disabilities, autism, visual impairments, deafness, emotional disorders, brain injury and other health problems. Special Education teachers work with parents and other school personnel in developing an educational plan specific to each child.
The Guidance Counselor works with students in dealing with social, personal and behavioral problems. They can provide advocacy for students with special needs. Many Guidance Counselors will teach classes on conflict resolution, anger management and drug and alcohol prevention. They also will work with students on an individual basis. In high school, Guidance Counselors also offer career and educational counseling as well as provide information on college admissions, career choices, financial aid, trade schools and apprenticeship programs. Guidance Counselors will also work with parents in making sure an IEP or Section 504 is followed. They can often be a central point of contact for parents, especially in middle school and high school when parents are working with numerous teachers.
A School Psychologist is a psychologist that works for the school district and can provide assessment for learning disorders. School Psychologists are often present at Individualized Educational Program (IEP) or Section 504 meetings. They will work with the parents and teachers to determine what special services or accommodations a child might need to succeed in school.
The principal of a school is the person that oversees the day-to-day operations of the school Principals routinely visit classrooms and monitor the quality of education. They manage curriculum and work to improve the skills of the teachers in their school as well as set performance goals for the entire school. Principals often interact with parents and students. Principals also work with the budget in their school as well as set policy and regulations for the school.
The Vice Principal normally handles discipline and absenteeism concerns in the school. They will talk with students on vocational and educational matters. Many handle administrative duties such as ordering textbooks and working with the principal on a daily basis to set school policy.
A tutor works with students on a one-to-one basis to assist learning in a specific subject. Tutors work in many different subjects. For example, when a student is struggling in math, a math tutor will work with them to help them master the curriculum. Tutors often work in conjunction with a teacher to reinforce the specific lessons a student is struggling with. Many school districts offer after school tutoring. This is sometimes done with teachers or high school students that excel in certain areas. Private tutoring is also available in many communities; parents would be responsible for paying a private tutor
Speech Therapists are required to be licensed and many states require at least a Master’s Degree in speech and language pathology. They are sometimes also referred to as Speech and Language Pathologists. Speech Therapists diagnose, treat and work to prevent speech and language disorders. They can also help students with cognitive-communication, voice, swallowing and stuttering. Speech therapists help individuals and their families learn to live with the difficulties of having a speech disorder.
Reading specialists provide assessment of reading skills and work with students that may be struggling or reading below grade level. They normally work closely with a student’s teacher to support and supplement the regular classroom curriculum. When a child needs an Individualized Educational Program, the reading specialist sometimes provides written evaluations of a child’s reading performance and may also provide recommendations or design a reading program to help the child succeed and improve reading skills.
Occupational Therapists work with people that have mental, physical, emotional disabilities or are developmentally delayed. They work to help improve basic motor skills, reasoning skills and help in developing coping skills for individuals that may permanently lose abilities. Occupational therapists work with students to help them participate in school activities. They may recommend modifications to equipment if needed by a student. Occupational therapy is sometimes included in an Individualized Educational Program.
Sometimes students are assigned a One-on-One Aide. This person will work specifically with one child in a variety of ways throughout the day. They may provide learning assistance, behavioral help, work with a child to develop social skills or daily living skills. These aides sometimes help students in transitioning from one class to another. An Individualized Educational Program should specifically spell out what an aide is to help a student with during the day based on their individual needs. Some students may have an aide stay with them for the entire day, assisting them in different classes, while other students may need an aide only during certain times of the day.
A Behavioral Specialist normally has a Master’s Degree and works with students with emotional disorders or with students with drug or alcohol problems. They are trained to use a number of techniques to help students with emotional disorders such as depression, eating disorders, gambling or bipolar disorder. They will work with the student to identify behavioral problems and work on finding solutions and coping strategies. Behavioral Specialists will work with students and often talk with their families to develop strategies that can be used at home as well as in school.
The media specialists are responsible for the audio and video equipment in the school and would make sure that equipment is available for teachers during lectures and classes. They may also have equipment for special needs students that may require additional learning aids.
Educational consultants work independently of schools and are hired privately by families to assist in developing an Individualized Educational Program or a Section 504 Plan. Educational consultants work with the families to help determine what services or accommodations a student will need to succeed in school. They will often attend meetings at the school with the parents as advocates. Educational consultants work with families in locating outside programs or schools for at-risk youth. They also help families find college programs and financial aid.
Eileen Bailey is a freelance health writer. She is the author of What Went Right: Reframe Your Thinking for a Happier Now, Idiot’s Guide to Adult ADHD, Idiot’s Guide to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Essential Guide to Overcoming Obsessive Love, and Essential Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome. She can be found on Twitter @eileenmbailey and on Facebook at eileenmbailey.