Advice for first year inclusion teachers

As we head back to school very soon, I thought I would answer some questions asked of me by new special education teacher.

1

The best plan for collaborating with the classroom teacher is to set up a meeting at the beginning of the school year and sit down and discuss expectations.  Each teacher is different and it is best to ask them.  I found it best to meet during conferences, if they are the same time.  If not meet before and after school.  I always liked to check-in on a weekly basis if not more often to know how my students where doing and if they needed anything.

2

The best strategy I found for making students feel included is to work with all students in the class.  Take time to work with students who are not on your caseload.  Every time I did this, all the students in the class enjoyed the extra attention and responded positively.

Another way to help make them feel included is when you pull students to work on a specific concept help all students struggling with that concept.  Pull the students to the back of the room in a small group, just make sure it is ok with the classroom teacher, but what teacher is going to say “no” to their students getting extra help.

If the class is divided on not understanding concepts, divide the classroom up and you work on one concept while the classroom teacher works on the other concept.

3

Make sure all areas are covered.  If the student struggles in math, make sure you address it in the Present Level of Performance (PLOP) or what ever your district calls it.  If you address it in the PLOP, you are going to need at least one math goal in their area of need.  Make sure accommodations are in place to help the student, for example, extra time on a test.  Your district should provide training on writing an IEP.

When it comes to communicating with everyone, the biggest meeting is the annual IEP meeting.  Throughout the year you might need to talk to everyone if things change with the student.  Or if your student masters all goals before the year is over.  That is a great problem to have.

Also, I have found when communicating with parents, the sandwich approach is the best.  Start out with good news, deliver the bad news and then end on a good note.  I know sometime this can be very hard, but parents also like to hear the good news.  It also shows parents you truly care about their students.

Make sure you keep your administrators in the loop on what is going on.  It can be a quick conversation or email.  If you keep them in the loop on what is going on they will have your back if anything goes wrong.  I spend a good chuck of my planning period communicating with parents, classroom teachers and administrators.  It is also a good idea to document all theses conversations, especially with parents.

4

Each student will be different but you must follow the IEP.  If it says to be in their math class everyday make sure you are there. The amount of assessments will be listed in the IEP or your district will tell you how many times you should assess each student.  Also, make sure you are taking data on their IEP goals.

Parents need to be updated during each reporting period.  Some districts this is every six weeks, or every nine weeks.  Make sure you follow the IEP and reporting dates listed.

The best advice I can give is get in touch with every parent at the beginning of the year and introduce yourself and get the year started on a positive note.

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