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First Year Special Education Teacher

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The following collection contains strategies and advice for teachers that are new to teaching special education.
First Year SpEd. Teacher
Posted by:fiver326 #141999

One of the biggest obstacles is keeping everything organized. Here are a few things that I do:

Your hanging folder for each student is great. I do the same. Within each hanging folder I place 3 file folders. One labeled "Work Samples" (for samples, annecdotal records, etc.), one "Paperwork" (IEP documents, meeting preparations, quarterly progress reports), one "Communication" (for all forms of communication with family--a copy of all notes to/from me, and a log of any phone calls and what was discussed)

On my desk I have a notecard with all of the IEP due dates. I generally just have each student labeled with a first initial and the date it is due. It's starred if I am the case manager (some student I work with but do not manage so the IEP paperwork process isn't as...

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Progress Monitoring
Posted by:Speced9 #142000

I highly recommend ongoing progress monitoring with your students. If your district is only using DIBELS three times a year, you won't get much out of that with your students. Progress monitoring each student on a weekly, or bi-weekly basis will show those little steps that they take during the course of the year in reading skills. My progress monitoring is a separate entity from the DIBELS monitoring the whole school does in October, January and May.

I set up a progress monitoring notebook with each DIBELS subtest as a section (Letter Identification Fluency, Initial Sound Fluency, Phoneme Segmentation Fluency, Nonsense Word Fluency, Word Usage Fluency and Oral Reading Fluency). Depending on where they are at, I have individual student progress graphs for each student in those sections.

Remember that you are progress...

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special ed management
Posted by:ritateach #142001

Is your class going to be self-contained? My first experience was in a Mild Cognitve Impairment class. I ranged from 8-10 students most of the time. I set up an excel sheet where I listed all of their goals. When I am assessing each child's goal I list the results on this sheet. I keep this sheet in a notebook. In this notebook I have pockets dividers for each child so I put their individual IEP goals on separate Excel sheet. In the dividers I put in the assessments that I have used.

My lesson plans I wrote in Microsoft Word in order to meet each of the child's needs. We did some things together in the classroom, but I had such a range of academic strengths I made sure to group accordingly and work on special needs. My parapro would help me work with the various...

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I used a scanner
Posted by:Narrative C #142002

to scan all my IEP's onto a flash drive. That way I always had all IEP info available to me, instead of looking up info or making copies, copies, copies. When I was at a meeting, or a parent had a question, I could just look up the info on my flash drive. I used a flash drive so I wouldn't have confidentiality problems--I always had the flash drive. I just kept it with me and stuck it into my laptop when needed. So much easier than paper files, and I could look things up at home if I needed to. (I always had back up paper files, of course!)

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First Few Weeks of School
Posted by:heart4sped #141323

We spend tons of time during the first few weeks going over every little aspect of the day and how we "behave" in each environment throughout the day (hallway, bathroom, cafeteria, etc.) I approach the behaviors in a logical way with the children--giving them a reason for each behavior. We practice (literally practice) doing these things until the children understand and can do it successfully. And yes, I have been known to sit in my chair incorrectly (and fall out), just to illustrate the REASON for sitting with your feet on the floor. They absolutely LOVE it when I fall!

During morning circle time, we review behavior expectations using a question/answer format. This sets the tone for the day. I'll ask "how do we sit in our chairs? on the carpet?, etc". I use a note card flip chart with pictures from Boardmaker, to illustrate the appropriate behaviors...

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No title
Posted by:PPCDTeacher #142003

My aide and I model the classroom rules, such as acting out how to line up, how to sit at the table, how to listen to a story, how to use the computer, etc. To make it fun, we also act out how NOT to do those things in really silly ways because it makes the kids laugh to see me act silly (for some reason, my kids love to watch me do things like walk backwards or fall down or cry or scream!:rolleyes:) . LOTS of modeling. We also go over the classroom rules every day together and go over the schedule. We also read together a lot and play together a lot, just to get to know each other.

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"In school" field trip
Posted by:bis4betsy #142004

I work with moderate/severe Kindergardeners and we take a "field trip" around the school to meet people who work there. We also visit the principal, the library, the custodian, the office ladies, the cafeteria workers, etc. and especially the nurse, because unlike the rest of the school population my students have been to a Dr. multiple times and get very anxious going to the nurse! We try to make sure they know her and where the office is, what's in there, etc.
We visit ALL the bathrooms and drinking fountains as well as the other classrooms they might visit for mainstreaming. Then I take pictures of these people and put them in an album to help the students get familiar with them and look at during reading time. It helps get them more comfortable with their environment and builds some vocabulary and social skills as well.

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Posted by:Speced9 #142005

I teach K-2 (not sure what you're teaching), so I spend the first week modeling appropriate behavior/expectations for centers etc. The way I see it, I need them to be able to work independently when I start small group work. The best way to ensure they can do this is to practice the individual center activities/computer programs before sending them out on their own. So, that first week is a lot of centers work with me and my aide working with them, going over behavior expectations and routines. Since the first week usually isn't a full five days (We usually start on a Tuesday or Wednesday), it's a good way to start the year.

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setting up your classroom
Posted by:spedstar #142006

With a lifeskills teacher already present in our K-2 building, I will be the "basic skills" special ed. class for K-2. I feel a bit of your anxiety as I'm brainstorming ways to set up my classroom also.

Have you thought about setting your classroom up with centers to focus on specific skills? I do agree a good amount of small group learning is important to have in a special ed. classroom to create a sense of teamwork and for you, as a teacher, to present important rules/expectations and social skills to the class. Also, you mentioned having 2 aides. Most often the aides maybe able to give you some perspectives on what went well in other classrooms they have worked in. They also may be familiar with some of your students already, so I would brainstorm with them first. They would be a good resource to you. Another...

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New teacher
Posted by:RAD #141322

I'm in the middle school. I also go over rules/expectations, make sure the students can open their lockers (combination locks). For the 6th graders who are new to the building, we do tours and introduce them to the secretaries, principal, nurse, counselor, media specialist, cafeteria staff, etc. Make sure they know all the "important" people in the school.

I also do informal testing to see where they are at in math, reading, writing, spelling, etc. Most students show some regression over the summer, so I want to know what skills need to be brought up to speed. I also have students make a "me" poster. On a 12x18 sheet of paper they write their name in big letters along the side of the paper. Then they need to come up with something that relates to them for each letter and draw or find pictures to illustrate it....

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Posted by:fiver326 #2177

Here are a few forms I have. They are very basic. There's nothing fancy about them but they get the job done for me. Hopefully they're helpful.
Apparently I can only attach one at a time. (This is my first attachment so I wasn't sure.) This first form is just a check-in/out form so I have documentation. Some of my students have goals about having all materials ready to go home independently so I have this sheet to use as documentation.
I will attach 2 other sheets. They are two different formats that I've found useful for documenting the progress toward a goal.
I use an anecdotal page also through the day to just make notes. I don't have that page saved on my home computer and I can't access PT at school. I basically have one page that has all of the...

Download: sample check in sheet.doc (110.592 KB)

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Posted by:fiver326 #2178

This is a page with the goal and objectives. I use initials or sometimes just first initial up in the corner so I don't have to worry about confidentiality and locking my clipboard away all the time.
I have all the goals stapled together by subject. When it's reading class, I grab the reading packet and a clipboard and carry it with me so these are always in my mind as I'm circulating.

Download: sample goal observations.doc (113.152 KB)

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Posted by:fiver326 #2179

This last one is another format for goal observation. It's organized by student instead of one page per goal. This form worked better for me last year but this year I prefer the other form I attached. I'll attach it in case you find it helpful. It's just another format.

Download: sample goal record.xls (117.76 KB)

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