Schools have been out for a few weeks. But I bet you are already searching for back to school tips for special education teachers.
Or is that just me? I’ve had my few weeks to rest, and now my mind is on fire getting prepared for the new school year.
I have found several essential tips (and supplies) for preparing for the new school year.
Back to School Tips for Special Education Teachers
#1 Developing a Schedule
One of the things that I have learned over the years is that it takes a few days to get a consistent schedule. So don’t be hard on yourself. It takes time to develop a plan that fits.
As a special education teacher, you could be doing multiple classrooms, multiple subjects, and even multiple grades.
Depending on your caseload of students, you could have a manageable caseload or a more difficult one this school year.
For example, it is important to know how many students you work with daily.
In my time, I have seen two different scenarios at the elementary school level. I have seen a special education teacher stretched over five grades and a teacher just handling one grade’s worth of students.
#2 Individualized Education Plans
You will have an Individual Education Plan (IEP) for each student you work with during the school year. It includes the student’s strengths, weaknesses, and goals for the year.
Be sure to familiarize yourself with each IEP. Not every IEP is the same. In addition, some students will require more support than others.
If you have a new student at your school, get all their information beforehand. This way, you can hit the ground running on day one.
If possible, try to meet the student and their family before school starts. This way, you can start to build that relationship.
Get all of your materials ready ahead of time. This way, you can be prepared for each student on day one.
#3 Don’t Get Discouraged
Think about your students and their individual growth. As a special education teacher, it is important to know that your students may not make the same growth as others.
They are doing their best, and their best may not be as much as you predict. And that is okay.
There have been many days that I have thought about how much I wish my students would be able to achieve a specific score on an assignment.
I have learned that students with disabilities try their hardest each day. However, they may have times when their efforts aren’t as consistent.
But they are trying their best. And that is all that you can ask for.
#4 Be Prepared to Go Off Plan
Sometimes things do not go as planned. Each day in the special education field could be completely different.
I have learned through multiple instances that things may not go as planned, which is okay.
Each day is a new day to try or attempt to teach it differently. All children learn differently, and the more flexible you can teach, the more success your students will see.
Your plans may change due to such things as:
- Fire drills
- Kids absences
- Weather delays
- School closures
- Special events
If those things do impact the schedule, don’t worry. You aren’t the only teacher experiencing those things. However, be prepared to go off plan if needed.
What Supplies Does a Special Education Teacher Need?
Another essential back to school tip for special education teachers is to gather the supplies you will need before school starts.
Because of all the supply chain issues, you may want to start your shopping even earlier this year.
Here are a few of the supplies I have found essential.
#1 Glue Sticks
As a special education teacher, I collaborate with two other general education teachers to provide instruction and services.
The students in those classes use interactive notebooks each day. Unfortunately, these interactive notebooks require lots of glue.
As a special education teacher, you can never have enough glue sticks.
Pens may be one of my favorite school supplies to buy. I typically use colored pens each day to do various tasks. But, of course, this is always necessary when you think about returning to school.
#3 Documentation Binder
As a special education teacher, you are responsible for documenting and providing accommodations for students with disabilities.
You are also responsible for documenting students’ progress toward their IEP or Individualized Education Plan Goals.
The great thing about the internet is that you have access to websites like TeachersPayTeachers and Etsy, which offer many templates for helping SPED teachers document their students’ accommodations and goal progress.
Here’s an editable special education binder that seems to have everything!
Are You Prepared for the New School Year as a Special Education Teacher?
Special education teachers have a lot of work to do when preparing for the new school year. But by following these simple tips, you can be sure to hit the ground running to provide your students with the best possible start to the school year.
These are just a few tips for the new school year. Be sure to take some time for yourself as well. Back to school can be stressful.
Find a way to relax and recharge each day. Then, you’ll be happy you did.
What tips do you have for the new school year? Let us know in the comments below!
Do you have students that need extra help? We offer one on one online tutoring for special education students.