Advice for New Special Education Teachers

Check out our list of tips for new special education teachers.

If you are a new special education educator, find support among the other special education educators in your school district. Once in doubt, find outside resources such as national organizations and other professionals in the field of education.

Understand where your learners place academically at the beginning of the school year. Analyze the goals set the previous year, and explore how learners were served during the summer. Get sure that learners can have access to the general education curriculum where and when appropriate.

Give the inclusion class educator note cards (an assorted color for each special education learner) with the learner’s goals and a list of needed modifications. Operate as a team to ensure the best possible education. Skills need to be taught to all learners and periodically reviewed. For special needs learners, these are taught, retaught, and reviewed in smaller segments over a longer period.

Look at the big picture, and focus your energies on working with the learners who are under your guidance. Work with your regular education educator to incorporate some of your lessons into the mainstream class.

Become acquainted with the various outside providers working with learners and what support services they will be providing. If possible, make appointments with them prior to school begins or whenever new services begin. These experts may include juvenile justice system workers, behavior intervention specialists, and social workers.

Search the Internet for sites that house chat rooms for special education educators. Because identifying students’ disabilities is so broad, you may have one learner with a unique disability or characteristic. You may find other educators who have had similar learners in the class. Sharing information can open up or support many possibilities.

If you teach learners who will transition to another school, plan for the transition with the regular education educator, other educators, the learners, and the parents. Start in middle school preparing for the transitions from school to the workplace or to postsecondary education.

Carry in regular contact with the families of your learners. If the learners have severe learning problems, written notes at home, emails, or phone messages daily will aid their caregivers by providing info about the school day. You will be working closely with families.

Set up a system for getting work to learners who are absent over some time. It is important that learning stays on course during absences for more than several days. Contact or set a time to visit if appropriate. Showing that you care very important to the learner and to the parents.

Send out small increments of extended work with the learner. Ask parents to work on skills to accelerate the learner’s learning process. This is crucial during the summer when special needs students should continue reviewing skills.

Don’t do for your learners what they can do for themselves. It is perfectly okay to help your learners, but empower them with as much accountability and opportunity as possible. In the younger grades, teach them how to zip their jackets and then have them show you how they zip their coats. With older learners, show them how to use the digital camera and then have them demonstrate what they have learned.

In math, you could assign ten problems instead of twenty problems. Have the learner check with you for understanding prior to proceeding with the next ten problems. Understand that you can make accommodations for the learner.

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