Monday, July 22, 2013

Tips for New Special Education Teachers: Setting Up Services

Looking at IEP’s can seem very overwhelming.  While a well-written IEP can tell you a lot about a kiddo… it will never tell you everything.  With that being said, you do not want to plan a years worth of curriculum, even two weeks worth, until you have spent a few days with your students.  Most importantly, you cannot set up your daily schedule until you have all of your specials set up.  Here are a few tips to setting up your student's services.


1.  Make a master list.  Review each IEP and make a list of each service. Be sure to note minutes/week or month and whether it is individual or group.  Review each IEP AGAIN and a 3rd time to make sure you didn't miss a service! Also- note any amendments or pending assessments from last year from the minutes page of the IEP.  Be sure to review each minutes page of the IEP.
(My master list from last year)

2.  Schedule Group Services. I try to schedule my group services first.  For my class, Speech and APE  are the biggest services my kiddo's receive.  I like to start with these services as they take the biggest chunks of time.  I would advise to schedule your services from the most time to the least time to reduce scheduling conflicts!
           -When setting up student groups, consider behaviors and cognitive abilities.  I usually sit down with the service provider to reivew the IEP goals to see who would work well with one another.  Ultimately, the service provider should be the one to choose the groups to allow for easing instruction and assessments on their end.  I just provide input in terms of behaviors! (and BOY do they appreciate collaborating to create balanced groups!)
(Example of setting up Speech)

3.  Schedule Individual Services.  When scheduling individual services, consider what time of day is best for that student.  Also- consider the transition time for the student to get to the service provider location.  I like to set my individual service times for either first thing in the morning (straight from bus), at the end of the day (walk straight to bus from service) or before/after recess and lunch.  Any time I can reduce the transitions... the better!  

4.  Create a master weekly schedule.  POST THIS EVERYWHERE! I post this on my schedule board, by the door and a tiny version on the back of my I.D. tag so I can see it when I go out to get my kiddo's from recess/lunch.  By making a weekly schedule like the one below, it is easy to look at it every morning when setting up your daily schedules!

5.  Be sure to thank your service providers (and your bus drivers too!).  I love my service providers.  They take such good care of my kiddo's! I am blessed to have a great special education team in my district.  We are able to collaborate, text and email each other and get immediate responses.  We have a solid team and it makes working that much better.  Be sure to thank your service providers.  During holidays, end of the year, birthdays etc., be sure to send a card/gift their way! They work hard and deserve a thanks every once in a while.  I love to make a huge class card and laminate it with a class picture.  This way they can put it up in their office! A little bit of thanks goes a long way!

I hope this advice helps with starting your new classroom! Good luck :)

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