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New Job, new setting.....
Old 05-18-2020, 07:46 PM
 
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I am transitioning back into a former school district as a special education teacher. Although, I have experience in general education, what suggestons would my seasoned SPED teachers give to someone new in this area of education?


Thanks in advance.


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Congratulations!
Old 05-19-2020, 11:40 AM
 
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Mainly, don't let other people's stories get you down!!

There can be negatives--like any job--but the positives outweigh the negatives. Even the dreaded paperwork can be handled.

A lot of what you learned for GenEd will still work in SpEd. The primary thing is still relationships and routines. Just like with GenEd, you need to find the fine line between adhering to procedures and being infinitely flexible...

I hope they assign a mentor or buddy teacher. If not, find someone in your building who is SpEd too or familiar with the process. It is good you are familiar with the building and district already, that eases a lot. Try to find out what levels and groups you will have. Find out what resources you have available. Find out if you are resource or self-contained--those sorts of things.

Don't overstress about the disabilities and diagnoses--those are just labels. Find out what the students NEED and go from there when planning everything.

I've been in SpEd K-12 by now and a lot of their needs are very similar. Academically, I still primarily focus on reading, writing, and math. I also add in life skills--like social skills, self-care/hygiene, vocational and more.

A big part of SpEd is the relationships with parents. Think about how you want that to look and work for you.

To touch back on the paperwork, I wouldn't worry about the IEPs as much--you will have training as well as the examples of previous years or other students. If you see another IEP and like how they word things, remember it and use it. When you get your caseload, read through the IEPs and see how they word things, layout the paperwork and so on. Now, (as opposed to when I started, IEPs happen at the click of a few buttons and careful phrasing. We will help here on PT, there are endless groups on FB (tho be careful there...) and the examples of your director and colleagues. Evals and ReEvals are tougher but again, your info needs to come from your district because each district does it differently.

The toughest part for me- Data Collection and documentation! Try to explore what will work for you. Coming from GenEd, I'll put it like this...You have to pretend that every student is an RTI kid... You need to document things and be able to transfer that information to IEPs and progress reports.

I have tried a number of things over the years. Right now, I keep a binder with copies of goals/benchmarks and my data. I use one big binder--I tried individual student binders and it was too cumbersome. I have some items that are self-reporting (iReady, teach your monster to read, etc.) I do baseline data at the beginning of the year and update near the end of reporting periods and prior to IEP meetings. I don't try to take data on every single thing every single time. I usually pick a couple days a week and stagger the students so I am not pulling my hair out.

I also write my IEP goals to include the phrase 4/5 trials or 3 of 5 observations or similar. That way, if the student does have a bad day during data collection you can drop it so it doesn't wreck their stats. (Like in GedEd when teachers will agree to drop the lowest grade...)

Anyway, feel free to ask questions here any time.
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Thanks for responding
Old 06-07-2020, 06:17 PM
 
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In the midst of COVID19, the job search and relocating across country, I just got back to reading this thread.

Your words were helpful and encouraging. I am actually excited and a bit nervous about the fall. But that is a GREAT thing!
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