Need advice/tips/and anything else you've got!

Discussion in 'Special Education' started by girlinaz, Jul 11, 2012.

  1. girlinaz

    girlinaz New Member

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    Jul 11, 2012

    I have recently been employed as a K-4 resource teacher and am excited as ever. However, the past couple years I have been in gen. ed. so I am feeling a little clueless on how to even begin.

    1. To start with, I will have my own room. What sort of things are "must-needs" right away?

    2. Also, is it helpful to have things such as a word wall and a reading corner? I am just trying to figure out how I will be able to make my room suitable for kinders and 4th graders (and all in between). Do I need work station areas, such as a writing center?

    3. What are some tips for organizing and keeping track of student work, data, IEPs, etc?

    4. I don't even know what to do for Meet The Teacher night. Do I need student emergency cards filled out (I would normally do that in gen ed) and what other items would I need? Would it be best to make a letter introducing myself?

    5. CLASSROOM MANAGEMENT: I normally have done the "flip the card (red, yellow, green, etc)" and the "fill a jar with marbles" and "table points", but how the heck do I do that with kids coming in and out? Any strategies for managment? I definitely want this figured out before kids start!

    Like I said, I have been in general ed. and am completely new to SPED so I'm freaking out (just a little!). Any advice you have would be greatly appreciated! Thank you. :thumb:
     
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  3. time out

    time out Comrade

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    Jul 11, 2012

    Hi, I'm a gen ed teacher but hopefully these answers might help. I don't think ESE or specials' teachers get a lot of visitors on meet the teacher night. You will probably have a few IEP meetings before the first day of school though. I wouldn't worry about emergency cards but you will have to contact parents throughout the school year but most likely during your planning or after school.

    Also, our ESE teacher doesn't write an introduction letter but then again she knows all the parents because she was at the staffing meeting. Since you're new, you may want to write one.

    Most likely, you'll only have students for an hour at a time. You can and should have expectations for your class but our ESE teacher would communicate with us if their were any behavior problems. You could also create a behavior form to send home instead. Hope this helps:)
     
  4. karebear76

    karebear76 Habitué

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    Jul 11, 2012

    I have 4th grade only. I run my room very much like a gen ed room for a lot of things. I absolutely have to have a management system that goes well with the homerooms, or I would lose all credibility with the students. I have done the flip a card thing, but now I'm using the clip chart.

    I suggest that you decide how you are going to keep yourself organized. I use a 2 inch binder as my teacher binder. I have tabs for schedule, plans, grades, newsletters, calendars, etc. Then each student has a binder for IEP assessment and documentation. This is teacher preference. Think about what kind of organization you liked in gen ed and go from there.

    You will need to keep supplies on hand b/c kids will most likely not remember to bring them. So find out if they're provided by school or if you need to hit sales. Definitely have different paper (primary and notebook) and pencils on hand.

    Find out when you can access IEPs to start reviewing needs and thinking about grouping kids. I do full replacement so I know when the students will be coming to my room based on their HR rotation.

    Be prepared to have a duty. I have cafeteria duty every day, which prohibits me from using Eat with Teacher rewards and such. It also makes grade level collaboration difficult.

    My word wall is sight words only. I have a library as well. I sometimes require nightly reading so I allow students to borrow my books if they don't have any at home.

    I made a brochure at Vistaprint for meet the teacher. Prior to that I typed a letter. I have mixed attendance. I also go to the grade level presentation that night. I try very hard to project the image that I am a 4th grade teacher, not I am a special education teacher.

    Good luck and keep posting here as you prepare for your new adventure!
     
  5. samsmom

    samsmom Rookie

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    Jul 19, 2012

    I work mostly with K-2, but also see a few students individually (3-6), so my room is pretty all-purpose.

    Must-have's for me from the get-go are:
    Familiarity with IEP's/goals
    A well-organized class library
    An area where the students can sit and read
    General student supplies (pencils, scissors, glue, erasers, paper, etc. Karebear76 is right; the kids forget these).
    An organized method for keeping student work, IEP goals, observation sheets, etc. I change this every year b/c I have yet to find one that I keep up with on a daily basis.

    I do have parents who pop in during back-to-school night, so I make sure I am prepared. I pull out the texts we will be using, some leveled readers, and am ready to describe a "typical" day/week. I always send home an introductory letter (as does my colleague who works primarily with 4-6).

    Word Walls - I love them but haven't figured out how to use them well. I will definitely have an interactive one for my kinders, I am not sure yet what I will do for the older students.

    Management: The most students I have had at one time has been 8. Up to this point, there has been no need for behavior charts/cards etc. (I really am not in favor of a "can be seen by all" type of management system anyway). We do discuss expectations (and revisit these throughout the year) and any issues are addressed through a quick, quiet discussion with the individual student. So far, that has worked fine.

    Work on building parent and gen ed teacher relationships - those are so SO important. It is a wonderful job...congratulations!
     
  6. mopar

    mopar Multitudinous

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    Jul 20, 2012

    I would definitely have a library and a word wall. You may want center areas, you may not. This will depend on your schedule. Will you need to pull a third grade group and a second grade group at the same time?

    You will definitely want a place for supplies as the students will forget them and then waste time going back for them. You want to limit this wasted time.

    I would plan to attend each grade level meet the teacher night if possible. And I would write a letter home to the parents. If nothing else, the letter will provide them your contact information.

    For classroom management, because you have them for such a short time, I've seen success with a sticker chart or star chart. Basically, if they follow directions they get to put a sticker on their chart. Once they fill the chart, they get some kind of small reward (maybe a special chair, playing a game during resource time, etc).
     
  7. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    Jul 20, 2012

    I've also recently made the transition from gen. ed. to sped teacher. Here are my suggestions:

    1. You'll need to have a place for each student to store his/her belongings that they will use in your classroom. In my resource room, we use tables instead of desks. So, I have tried using both cubbies and magazine holders stored on a shelf as options for the students to keep their materials (i.e. folders, workbooks, flashcards, etc.). Also, as others have mentioned, you'll need basic supplies (glue, pencils, paper, kleenex, etc.). Even if students remember to bring them, they usually end up staying in the gen. ed. classroom and don't make it to the sped teacher. If you're lucky, some gen. ed. teachers might be kind enough to share.

    2. In my classroom, I had a reading corner that was basically just a rug with some pillows and stuffed animals. It also served the purposes of a cool-down zone and place to do partner work. I attempted to do a word wall with sight words, but it didn't really work last year. I'm hoping I find a way to make it work this year.

    3. I wish I could suggest a good way to collect data and organize student work and IEPS. I've been scouring the internet trying to find a good method the past couple of days. I think I'm going to end up using individual binders for each student where I'll keep the IEP, data collected, and student work. We'll see how well this works out....

    4. I was hired mid-way through the school year last year for my sped position, so I didn't participate in meet the teacher night as a sped teacher. When I was a gen. ed. teacher, it didn't seem like too many parents visited the special area and sped teachers. I'm planning to have a letter/handbook about me and my classroom available for parents that do stop by.

    5. Classroom management is the one area I felt successful in last year, and I plan to use the same method this year.

    I started out with a star chart, where students would earn a star at the end of their resource session if they followed directions and participated. Although the students were VERY eager to find out whether or not they earned a star at the end, I found it difficult to determine whether they truly earned it. They might be terribly unfocused and off-task for most of the session and then be completely on-task the last ten minutes. I didn't want to reward them for the off-task time, but I didn't want to overlook their on-task time either....

    So, about half-way through the semester I changed my behavior plan. I created a token economy. It required tokens, a binder with token tracking sheets, a "school store" menu, an expectations chart, and, of course, tangible incentives.

    Expectations chart: "How do I earn tokens?" I listed four or five things students were expected to do (i.e. participate in lesson, encourage others, etc.), and I hung this chart in various places around the classroom, as well as placed it in the front cover of my token binder.

    Tracking sheets & binder: I created simple sheets where I had a column for the date, tokens earned, subtotal, tokens spent, and remaining balance. Inside, a half-inch binder, each student had their own sheet that was filled out at the end of each session. (I usually stopped instruction about 2-3 minutes early to make time for this and "shopping" for the incentives. It was well worth the loss of those 2-3 minutes! The time leading up to it was much more productive than before I implemented this system.)

    Tangible incentives and store menu: This was the "worst" part of the system. I had to invest in prizes. I ordered from Oriental Trading and made a couple trips to the grocery store. I had small toys, school supplies, $5 gift cards, and snacks available, each for a different value that I determined. I made a menu to show what was available and the cost of each item. I hung this up and stored a copy in the back cover of the token binder. I stored the items on a shelf, where I also labeled the cost on the containers holding them. After my first investment, I only had to do minimal replenishing throughout the remainder of the semester... and only for the most popular and least "expensive" items. The beauty of this is that you can set the cost based on the number of tokens you expect to hand out, so you determine how long it will take students to earn the prizes (and how often you have to replenish). Many students save day after day until they earn the "big" prizes. Others just want something small every day.

    Tokens: You, of course, need tokens or something similar to use this system. Here is how I used them: During each session, I handed out tokens - usually just one or two at a time - to the students that were on-task, helping others, participating, etc. They collected them in their area of the table. I made it very clear from the beginning that playing with or counting the tokens during a lesson would result in earning no additional tokens. I never took tokens away when students did do those things or other inappropriate behaviors. My goal was to focus on the positive and not the negative. If a student was doing something inappropriate, I tried to compliment the other students and reinforce their positive behaviors rather than reprimand the student with the negative behaviors. This wasn't always possible... Sometimes you have to say something about the negatives, but I tried my hardest to avoid it. At the end, students counted their tokens, I logged them in the binder as mentioned above, and then they returned the tokens to my token bucket.

    All-in-all, I found this system to be very effective at managing behaviors. Students who were off-task quickly changed their behavior when they noticed that the on-task students were being rewarded with tokens. It took a bit of work to set-up, but it was well worth it. There is not a chance I would go back to my star chart. The other resource teacher next door told me she's going to implement this system next year, too.

    I hope this is helpful to you. I have word doc files for the token economy system I can email if you're interested. If you find any good resources for data collection, please share!
     
  8. Coastalteaching

    Coastalteaching New Member

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    Aug 14, 2012

    New 4-5 ESE

    Hello Everyone-
    Today was first day of pre-school for me and I feel really overwhelmed! Last year I was an interim 1st grade teacher which ended up being a k-1 split. I was wondering if anyone has advice for setting up your schedule, lesson planning when pushing in, and anything else that could help me. I studied ESE in college but never got the chance to apply it and now I feel a tad overwhelmed......please help:)
    Thank you
     
  9. Coastalteaching

    Coastalteaching New Member

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    Aug 14, 2012

    I would love a copy of your system if you would love to share. I would greatly appreciate it. Let me know if you could send it then I'll send my email.
     
  10. karebear76

    karebear76 Habitué

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    Aug 14, 2012

    Welcome Coastal! For scheduling, I start by making a table with all possible class periods for the week. Then I block out the mandatory stuff like my duty time, my lunch time, and planning time (I only have 4th grade, so I have common planning time). After that I look at required minutes and homeroom rotations. Since I do replacement reading & math, I know when the students would have those classes and write in names. I don't always do inclusion but when I do, I block those times out as well. My times in inclusion are more para-like than co-teaching so I don't plan. I have modified curriculum/assessments but the content teacher did all planning. I just went with the flow.

    Good luck!
     
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2012

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