The first couple weeks of school for a special education teacher can be overwhelming!
Once you know your students, there are things that you need to put into place to make sure that they are successful in your SPED classroom. It can be a lot!
Plus, special education teachers have to think about IEP mandates, progress monitoring, inclusion, related services—OT, PT, Speech, Vision services, adapted PE, paraprofessionals, sensory input and more!
Not to mention tracking behavior and learning how each of the students will be able to succeed.
Oh, and don’t forget differentiating almost every single lesson.
Take a deep breath…there are things you can do to make the back to school season easier!
Before school starts or in that first week of school, one thing you can make sure you have all set are your visuals of your routines.
Visual schedules can be printed and laminated! This saves tons of time during that back to school rush when you really need to be thinking about your content and building positive relationships within your classroom.
Even if you prefer to laminate at school, (trust me, I get it, that’s how I was for years) the amount of time and sanity you will save by purchasing a cost-effective laminator and laminating pouches is priceless.
2. Bind everything.
Well, not really everything, but our special education kiddos always need help learning to stay organized.
We like to bind monthly spelling work, pocketbook units (the meat and potatoes of our classroom) and morning work before school even starts.
Basically, our entire September is prepped before school even starts.
This gives us so much extra time in the classroom because the students are not losing papers in their book bags, and shuffling papers into their mailbox after every lesson.
Binding work also means that students take ownership of their work because they are proud to own an entire workbook that they can show off to parents, administration or friends!
3. Prepare birthday gifts.
Birthdays happen all year long and if you’re like me and put your teacher energy into what you’re teaching and how you’re teaching, then birthday gifts are unfortunately an afterthought.
I always have good intentions and want to give my students cute gifts to let them know they are appreciated and I care for them, but in the midst of Annual Review meetings and field trips and all the other school related hectic-ness, sometimes it doesn’t happen.
Well, this year I decided to make birthday pail gifts and I AM SO RELIEVED!
I’m all about convenience these days with two little ones at home so I found some adorable birthday themed items from Oriental Trading and made all of my student birthday gifts in one sitting.
They are sitting in my closet at school, ready for birthdays! And who could argue the cuteness scale on these? Candy, bookmarks, sunglasses, pencils, stickers and more at a great price!
4. Progress Monitoring
Before school starts, or within the first couple of days, see if you can access your student Individual Education Plans.
Find an editable Progress Monitoring resource from TPT, I use this one right here. Type up all of your student goals and objectives ONCE! Then print multiple copies and you are set until their goals change at their next AR meeting.
I know what you’re thinking…pure bliss. Editable Progress Monitoring sheets are a game changer. I can’t believe at one point (years ago), I would handwrite goals every so often.
5. Meet with your paraprofessionals or aides.
If you won’t have a day already embedded in your conference days to meet with your staff, this might be a good idea.
Take them for coffee or see if your administration would pay for them to work those conference days or even part of the day when you have time in your classroom.
Not only can they help you with things you need to set up, but it’s a good plan to develop a positive rapport with them before school starts.
Let them know your expectations in the classroom, your teaching style, routines and what you will need of them throughout the day.
It can be a challenge to get to know new paraprofessionals and new students all at the same time! And, as we know in special education, it is a personal journey.
The stronger that our relationships are with our team and students, the better off everyone will be.