I teach a class of 10 students who have varying learning difficulties. I make individualised study plans for each of them and plan and give the lessons.
I come to work about 45 minutes before the students. I've designed the lessons beforehand, so in the morning I just take out all the materials we're going to be using that day, check my e-mail and see if anyone will be absent that day. Then I go to the teacher's lounge and get coffee.
This year I taught fourth grade, so the average schooldays were from 9 to 2. We get to design our schedules ourselves. A single lesson is 45 minutes. We have two 25 minute recess periods every day, and a 15 minute lunch. I'm supervising the recess once a week and the rest are technically free time. More often than not, though, there is something that needs to be done between the lessons. My students need all the attention I can give them during the lessons. I eat with the students at the school cafeteria, so we have no lunch break.
We have a 4th grade mainstream class that we work with, so some of the lessons are together with them. I plan and teach these lessons together with the other class teacher. My class also has an assistant to help the students, who's there for most of the time.
When the students go home I stay at the school to finish off the day. I usually have a few messages to send to some of their parents; about upcoming events, feedback on their child's behaviour at school etc. Then I plan the lessons for the next day. If there are no meetings that day, I usually leave 1 or 2 hours after the students.
I love the students. I love seeing months' of hard work pay off, when one of them finally gets a hang of multiplying or tells me how proud he is that he kept his cool when we played soccer at P.E. I like that I have the chance to focus on each of them as individuals so that everybody gets to practise what's best for them. It's great to get to learn them and notice that all of them have their strengths, and use those strengths for them to build other skills on.
I also like having another class to work with, so that I get to design and discuss the school year with a colleague. And working with children, you're guaranteed you'll laugh at least a little and have at least one fun story to bring home with you every day.
It does get stressful. Being responsible of a child's development is a big burden to carry. Not all children live happy lives, and a troubled child will act up and take it out on you. No matter how much you try not to, you do take some things home with you.
People always envy teachers of their short hours, but I'm rarely if ever home before my fiancee who has a 9 to 4 job. And when you get close to a deadline (rapports, report cards, individualised study plans etc.) the days get even longer.
I do believe a special needs teacher has to have their own life together, so make sure you do things outside of work that make you happy.
Other than that I'd say collaboration with other teachers is the key. Internet helps a lot with sharing ideas and thinking of ways to solve problems. And it's always good to make sure you get to work together with someone locally, were it a partner class or just a good colleague.