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 :)


  1. This is awesome Melissa! Definitely some great reminders as we all head into a new school year.

    Jennifer Smith-Sloane

  2. This is great advice. However, in my experience in two different districts, I had little say when students received their other services. The biggest thing I'd recommend is to be flexible! Although, I don't know how you can teach special ed. and not be flexible. :-)

  3. This is awesome! I would love to see how to plan for pull-out small groups (for those of us that run the resource room) i.e.. how to schedule them, how to structure them, etc.

    I am also having a giveaway! Check it out...

    Diary of a First Year Teacher

  4. I'm pretty sure I'm the last person consulted when it comes to services. But that's okay because once I have those in place, then I work around it for my small group/individual schedule/classroom schedule. I'm flexible :)

  5. Melissa, I enjoyed reading your post regarding Tips for New SPED teachers. I am definitely not new but this is SO-o-o-o what is starting to go through my mind with just 2 1/2 weeks left of my summer.
    Even as an experienced teacher, I try to approach each year as if it were one of my first ones. ...perhaps not the first one but maybe the 2nd or third.
    I find that I have to wait for all the specials to be scheduled (e.g. APE, OT, PT, Speech and Language). I also often have a resource model student or two in my self contained classroom so I have be sure to schedule around their classes as well in order that they are in their classrooms at the best times for them.
    One thing I have added to my yearly set up in last 10 years has been setting up an IEP data sheet. This puts all my goals and objectives for each child on one sheet plus gives me a place to record data for them. I will be sharing more about this in the next day or so over at my blog.
    Thank you so much for this post. Its always so nice to see how other SPED teachers minds work putting together a new year.

    Mary Ann

  6. I love the idea of having your schedule on the back of your ID tag. That's ingenious!
    Grade School Giggles

  7. I would love help in this area.
    I have an OT who gives all students 16 hours per year. When I first arrived 3 years ago she would participate in rotations with us for an hour a week. Thus working more with the students. Now She only spends 30 minutes a week in our class. He will start out at 45 minutes and then decrease it. She does a whole group activity now. Now I would enjoy a whole group activity one time a month, however my paras and I are doing all the work. Nothing is set up, organized, no model for the students to copy, rarely are things modified per student. her assistant will start talking and then to her. It just feels like chaos to me. I have attempted to discuss for 3 years now. But there is no collaboration. She will even lower hours without telling parents or myself. I have to call her out in a meeting. And I say in a meeting because typically she is late putting the stuff in. I have tried to talk to admin. but nothing. Any advice!! admin.

    1. Hi Jennifer- Wow ... that is a toughy. I had a similar problem with a speech teacher last year. She was always late... I would bring my kids there and she would not be there. This would set off several behaviors... it was a never ending circus. I spoke with her about the legal need to meet IEP services.. I spoke with my principal and program administrator. Nothing was done until a parent got involved when I mentioned she was behind in services. I knew that the only way to get anything done was to have a parent complain... it's sad but it is the truth. Maybe that would help???

  8. This kind of information is really helpful and wonderful that it can help their special education. Still they can refer to online essay writing service reviews if they want to have some information about writing.


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