Back to School Tips for Special Education Teachers

Back to school season is one of the busiest times of year for teachers. While most teachers will be busy preparing for their first day of school, special education teachers also have to think about what happens after that. This can be especially challenging when you’re working in a new school and with new students. Here are some tips that will help make your transition into a new classroom easier:

Be organized!

  • Use a planner. You can use a planner to keep track of all your tasks and upcoming events, or you can use it as a way to plan out your day. They are great for helping you stay organized and are especially useful if you have multiple students, as they allow you to set up different schedules for each student without having to remember everything at once.
  • Use calendars! Calendars are great reminders of important dates, such as birthdays or holidays that may be celebrated by your school district or community. If you have multiple students with special needs who require different schedules, using a calendar will help keep their appointments straight so they don’t get confused about what’s going on when!

Get to know your new students.

Getting to know your new students is important, but it can be as simple as asking them to tell you their name, age and favorite subject. Ask them to tell you about their summer vacation and what they did with their family. They might mention a book they read, or a movie they saw this summer. Try out this boom deck to get them talking!  

When getting to know your students better, remember that it’s OK if they don’t want to talk about certain things (such as perhaps an illness). This doesn’t mean that you should avoid those topics in the future–just take things slowly and find out how comfortable your student feels talking about something first before bringing it up again.

Know the behavior plans.

  • Know the behavior plans. A well-designed behavior plan is a great way to keep track of student behavior and also help you know how to respond if a student exhibits certain negative behaviors. 
  • Use data from the classroom observation tool to help you track student progress over time in their behavior across environments (classroom vs home). This will show you where students need improvement in order for them to succeed throughout school year and beyond!

Give them a schedule they can follow.

  • Have a schedule that is easy to follow. If a child’s schedule is too complicated, he or she may become confused and not know what to do first.
  • Have individual visual schedules that can be posted on the wall in their room or on their desk at school (like this one). These will also help you stay on task when working with different students throughout the day!

Set up support staff and interventions.

Setting up support staff and interventions is a must. If you’re a special education teacher, you know that there are times when you’ll need help from colleagues on the team. Whatever the reason may be, having a plan in place for when this happens is crucial to keeping things running smoothly.

If I could give any advice on how to set up your floating support system more efficiently, it would be this: provide schedules for all of your teaching assistants! Not only do these help keep everything organized so everyone knows what they should be doing, but they also make everyone more efficient.

Use visuals in teaching – Get creative!

  • Create your own visuals if you want something more personalized than a textbook page or worksheet. You can make them out of construction paper and markers, but if you want them to last longer than one day, consider using laminate sheets or clear contact paper on top of regular paper. That way it’s easy for kids to write on too!
  • Use pictures instead of words when teaching new vocabulary words – this will help your students recognize these words outside of class so they’ll build their vocabularies even faster! (Cue thumbs up!)
  • Use different colors to highlight key points in a lesson – blue may mean “this is important” while red might mean “this is confusing” or green could mean “I don’t know what this means yet so let’s play around with it before moving on!”

Communicate with parents and build relationships early on.

Parents are a key part of the special education team. Communication with them is vital and must be done early on in order to build trust, rapport, and a relationship that will help you work together for your student’s success.

In order to communicate effectively with parents:

  • Find out what methods of communication are preferred by each parent. Some may prefer email or phone calls while others want everything in writing. Be sure to ask about their preferences so that you can keep them informed appropriately.
  • Send home notes as soon as possible after every meeting with parents or teachers about your student’s progress, behavior issues, needs (and more). This will help families feel more involved and invested in the process of helping students succeed at school

Stay calm and have a sense of humor!

You can’t control everything that happens in your classroom, but you can control how you react. As a special education teacher, there are many things that may happen that may make your job more difficult than it needs to be. It’s important to remember that no matter what comes up throughout the day, you need to keep a sense of humor about yourself and the situation at hand. A good way for me has always been just laughing at myself when I have made mistakes or have done something silly. It’s important to try not taking yourself too seriously because then it makes life easier! If there is something funny going on with students or colleagues, find it! Laugh!

A smooth running classroom is the result of many factors coming together so start now, get ready, and take it one step at a time!

There’s a lot to do when you’re getting ready for the new school year, and it can feel overwhelming. The good news is that there are steps you can take to make sure things go smoothly.

Here’s how:

  • Start planning now! It’s never too early to get started on your back-to-school checklist; in fact, the sooner you start planning, the more likely it will be that everything goes according to schedule. If possible, start organizing your classroom before summer ends so that when students arrive they’ll have a clean place to sit and work. You should also create a calendar of events leading up to the first day of school (e.g., publishing dates for newsletters) and beyond (e.g., parent/teacher conferences).
  • Take it one step at a time! As daunting as all this might sound, don’t worry—there will be plenty of time later on in our process where we’ll talk about some strategies for making sure things keep moving along smoothly after kids come back too! For now though think about what needs done first so we can make sure everything else gets completed later down the line…

Now that you’ve read our tips, it’s time to put them into action. If you feel like something is missing from our list or if you have any back-to-school advice for teachers working with special education students, don’t hesitate to reach out! We would love if you could share your thoughts in the comments section below so we can continue growing as educators together!

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