Hi, everyone! I'm Angelia from Extra Special Teaching.
One of my blog readers emailed me earlier this week asking me some questions about being a resource teacher. If she's asking, I figured there might be some more new teachers out there with the same types of questions. Her questions were:
What do I do with my students the first few days of school? Do I "pull" them immediately?
My first year as a resource teacher I wanted to know the same thing. So here is what I told her from my perspective. And please remember that what works for one school/teacher may not work for another. There might be procedures already set up that are specific to your school. It never hurts to ask. I'm still asking all kinds of questions.
1. Get a list of your "caseload." This is basically all of the students you are responsible for as the SPED teacher. You may already have this, but you may have to find someone to ask (i.e. data clerk, other SPED teacher, or some other SPED type clerk). And whatever you do, remember to be SUPER nice to the data clerk, admin people up front. You will need them at some point! :)
2. Find out as soon as possible who the general education teacher is for your students.
3. Touch base with those teachers. Even if you don't have a definite idea of what you're going to do schedule wise, at least pop in so that they know you are aware of the student and will be making plans for them. Some general education teachers are amazing but some are WAY overwhelmed at the thought of SPED kids.
4. I personally think kids need a few days in their gen ed classes to get to know their new teachers and the procedures and routines. A lot of it depends upon how your school does things. I've had kids stay in the gen ed class (with support) for the first week. This year, they wanted me to start pulling on the 3rd day. There's no real right or wrong answer. I did send my aides in for the 1st and 2nd day for support. I was with my self-contained student so I couldn't leave him otherwise I would have gone in and out to support the kids if needed. Remember, you are still responsible for the minutes even the first week. You can typically (at least in the 2 states I've taught in) cover the minutes through aide support.
5. Get a look at those IEPs. Figure out how many minutes each child is going to get and for what areas (reading, writing, math, behavior, social skills, etc).
6. Ask the gen ed teachers for their classroom schedules. You'll need their schedules to plan pull-out services. Remember to work around specials, lunch, recess, speech, PT, OT, etc. If you're pulling a kid for math, you don't really want to pull him during his reading block. It's a lot to consider and think about.
7. With all that info, you can start planning your schedule. I try to look for common blocks of time that I can pull kids. I've had years where it's a merry-go-round coming in and out of my room. Good grief it was a nightmare. I hope it's not like that for you. I typically make a spreadsheet and color in blocks red for times that I can't pull a student.
8. I try to touch base with the general education teachers frequently. Just asking if they need anything, can I help with the kids, trying to figure out how they do homework/curriculum so I can plan something similar, etc. Making yourself available and telling them that you will be flexible/accommodating/you're there to support them and kids/etc. goes a long way to getting them on your side. You never know what their previous SPED teacher experience was like or what kind of experiences the general education teacher had before meeting you.
9. Use the other SPED teachers for info. They will be knowledgable about the IEP process and computer program in your state. Plus, they will kinda know how the school works.
10. Try not to get overwhelmed. Easier said than done, I know. It will work out though. The first few weeks of pull-out can be tough, but you and your students will find a groove. If you can't remember when kids are coming, going, doing this, or doing that, schedule alarms on your phone. I do it every year for my kids or they would NEVER get to speech. I just set weekly alarms with the kids' names. My students quickly learn what the alarm means and know who has to go where.
Good luck to you as you start the new year!