First Year

Discussion in 'Special Education' started by missapril81, Jul 17, 2009.

  1. missapril81

    missapril81 Companion

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    Jul 17, 2009

    This is my first year teaching Special Education. Can anyone offer me and tips or advice that will help me make it through this first year? How was your first year as a Special Education teacher?
     
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  3. karebear76

    karebear76 Habitué

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    Jul 17, 2009

    My suggestion is to find a mentor. If you have one assigned by your district, great. If not, find someone in special ed that seems to know what is going on. They will be invaluable with helping you get timelines right, etc. They can also fill you in on the IEP process at your school.

    I would want to know these things:
    * Do you have a set time to do all IEP meetings? (my district does them in Oct, and then any move ins if necessary to adhere to legal timelines)
    * Who is the district representative for IEPs?
    * Where are special ed files located & what is the procedure for viewing them?
    * What am I expected to do (inclusion, self contained, resource, grades, etc)?
    * Do you have an online IEP program or other software for writing IEPs? Or handwrite them?
    * Will I have a para assigned to my room? Or a particular student, or none?
    * Will I have extra duties (recess, lunch, etc)?
    * Then specific questions for any educator: bathrooms, dress code, rules, discipline policy, etc. if this is a new school to you.

    My first year of sp ed wasn't bad at all. It was stressful, because I taught at 2 different schools. In the a.m., I had K-5 students. In the p.m., I had 5-6th grades. It was hard to really feel a part of the school as I was there only 1/2 time. Otherwise, I coped well. Over the years I have found things that I needed to improve on, and continue to work at them. Organization is a great skill to have. It only needs to be a system that works for you. I cannot stress record keeping and documentation enough. You have to be able to prove beyond any doubts that you have done what is necessary for each of your students. The better your records, the easier it will be. I have even been questioned 2 years after having a student. So now I keep all records for each student for a long time. I still haven't decided how long is appropriate.

    Basically, try to follow the rules, make sure you keep to all timelines regarding re evaluations, IEPs, assessments, etc.

    Good luck!
     
  4. Teacher2Be123

    Teacher2Be123 Companion

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    Jul 17, 2009

    I'm not in the field yet but I learned a lot from my one class last semester. The biggest thing I learned is to make a checklist/spread sheet of each child's individual goals/objectives/etc that way you can see which goals you have covered and which goals you still need to work on. Find out when your IEPs are due, when meetings are. If you are in a self contained classroom and students get pulled out for PT/OT/Speech find out the schedule so you can create a schedule for yourself of where each student needs to be at all times.
     
  5. spedtchr

    spedtchr Rookie

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    Jul 17, 2009

    What kind of class will you be teaching? It's exciting, but scary, isn't it?

    My first year was pretty great. I had a good mentor who helped me figure things out, and also a few other teachers who I sought out. I think the biggest thing is to ask for help and really listen to anyone who has experience. You'll quickly figure out who you can count on.

    I agree with the above two posts, that organization is so important. Every person likes a different system, but I think the most important thing is to stay organized in some way and not let "piles" start.

    The first thing I do every year is grab my calendar and write down all of the important dates for IEPs. I also give myself a reminder a couple of weeks before the due date so I can't forget. Most IEP software will also email you a reminder, so that is nice :)

    I'm sure you will do great! It's going to be pretty hectic and stressful at first, but you will get into a groove and things will get better from there! Don't get discouraged, everyone has had a first year teaching, so everyone will understand if you have a ton of questions :)
     
  6. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    Jul 18, 2009

    My first year in Special Ed was tough, but I knew that it was the right place for me--I loved it! You've been given good advice and suggestions regarding record-keeping and organization.

    The best advice I was given by my amazing mentor was to develop a "thick skin". There can be a lot of frustration directed at Special Ed teachers by general ed teachers. This is often because the whole process isn't completely understood by everyone, and it never moves quickly enough. If you are teaching a self-contained class, some may think you have it "easy" with your small group; if you are doing inclusion, some may think you have it easy because you aren't having to plan every subject for the whole class. Some teachers will love working with you, others may not. The important thing to remember is that you are there for your students and their parents. Your administrator will be the one to talk to about your responsibilities and scheduling; don't let anyone else "get" to you.

    Good luck; I love Special Ed!
     
  7. karebear76

    karebear76 Habitué

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    Jul 18, 2009

    Good point, MrsC! It is very tough to deal with the attitudes of general ed teachers sometimes. I've worked with very understanding ones, that will work with me to help me out, and then some not so much. You DO have to speak up for your students...sometimes an IEP dictates something that is not convenient for the gen ed teacher, but it is your responsibility to make sure it is done. I've had gen ed teachers try to change my schedule (that I worked 2 weeks on) b/c it better suited them. I try when I can, but that time was impossible & it really irritated me that this person had toyed with my schedule without knowing all the important details.

    Sorry for the vent...Try not to take things personally (I'm horrible at this...) and stand up for things that you know are right.
     

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