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musicmeg222 musicmeg222 is online now
 
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Taking over a caseload from a previous teacher
Old 02-08-2019, 09:10 PM
 
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A special ed teacher left her current position during the school year, as she had to move out of state. I recently interviewed for this opportunity and was offered the position earlier today. I am a first year teacher and will attend orientation very soon, but I'm curious about a few things.

I have been thinking about some questions I already have but also planning out many things within the classroom. I believe this position would be much easier if I were to start out fresh at the beginning of the year on my own, but instead, I'm taking on a position from a previous teacher at the beginning of the year.

How does this work with IEP's and documentation? I understand any new information added or changes made are my responsibility with my name on them, but I'm just not sure how the completion of IEP's will work since I'm taking over for another teacher.

Also, does anyone have any tips or suggestions for first year special education teachers? Anything is appreciated.

Thanks!


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Old 02-09-2019, 06:49 AM
 
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You will take over IEPs all year. Rather it be from new students, students moving in or out. I suggest read each IEP and check your date to make sure your in compliance.
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Best case scenario
Old 02-09-2019, 07:17 AM
 
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someone will be available to help you with your first several IEPs-a director, a mentor, a coworker... someone. First thing, make a master calendar and write the IEP date and reeval date of every student in your caseload on there. There are some dates (IEPs) that only need a few weeks notice and others (Evals/reevals) that need much longer.

A lot of IEPs now are reduced to fill in the blanks, check the boxes, and so on. It can be a struggle to learn the web-based IEP program/system your school uses. Your school probably also has checklists for compliance and/or paperwork stating how to word the important parts to meet regulations. Check to see if your IEP program has an online manual and/or video tutorials. Don't be afraid to ask questions. Even after you have written the bulk of it and have the meeting, it can be tweaked with the permission of the parties in the meeting. In my school, my SpEd Director always looks it over and does the finalization of it before it is locked.

The best plan is to read the present and even previous IEPs--when you see wording you like, refer back to it often. Even the "bad" or poorly worded ones teach you how you want come across on paper. No two are exactly alike for a good reason. That is why it is called the Individualized Education Plan.

As for the documentation--find what works for you. Find out the assessments you are required to give students and if your district already has protocols to measure that. If not, find assessments that you are comfortable with giving. As long as you use the same measurement each time, you can measure progress. You don't want to switch assessments willy nilly. It is apples and oranges so the comparison won't be true.

When it comes to documenting progress towards IEP goals, that is ongoing. There are lots of ways to write it down. Be it charts, post-it notes, binders, graphs, or whatever, find something that is not a burden to you. The more burdensome you find it, the tougher it is to make yourself do it.

Number one piece of advice is to be organized. Some days I feel like I am drowning in piles of paperwork. I change the ways I do things, handle things, see things, store things, and so on frequently. No one way is right for everyone. Again. find what works for you.

By the way, this:
Quote:
I believe this position would be much easier if I were to start out fresh at the beginning of the year on my own, but instead, I'm taking on a position from a previous teacher at the beginning of the year.
Just because the school year has already started for the students, you can still go in as if it is the first day of a new program and reestablish the routines and procedures the way you want them. There will be an adjustment period either way--might as well get it the way you want it. No matter how well you are prepped on what already happened this year, you will not do things the same way. No use trying in that case.

Good luck. Come back anytime with your questions.
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Old 02-09-2019, 08:08 AM
 
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Thanks for the helpful information 'whatever' and 'Tsy2013'. I appreciate the tips.

I'm very excited to begin this position. I will gain some experience for a few months, until the end of the school year, with a small caseload. I'm hoping this will lead into a new position for the start of the new year.

I'm hoping I will have plenty (maybe just enough) of time to review IEP's before beginning. I will definitely add the IEP due dates to my calendar first. I just want to make sure I'm familiar with all of the students needs especially since I wasn't the one to test them or create the IEP from the beginning. I'm also hoping I'll have a *little* time to learn the IEP program my district will use.

Random, but I've never heard of this website, so I was doing a bit of research about it. Is this website safe and reliable? At the top of my browser where I enter the URL, it says it's not secure, so I'm a bit worried. It seems like a helpful little community, but I want to be sure.
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Old 02-09-2019, 11:55 AM
 
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What kind of position is this? Resource, self-contained, etc.?

IME in resource, it's common to work with IEPs I haven't written anyway. We get many transfers throughout the year and when my students come up from preschool, obviously the pre-k teachers have written those IEPs.

As a brand new person, I wouldn't try be making any changes/amendments. Follow the IEPs as written even if you would have done some things a little differently. You can change them as their meetings come up. I'd only do an amendment if you have a lot of data to support over time that it's necessary.

If you're not the only sped teacher in your school, ask for specifics about that district's IEP rules. IME every district has their own things that are "set in stone" for them. See if you can attend someone else's IEP meeting before your own so you can get a glimpse of how they're run in that district. If you are the only sped teacher, see if another service provider such as the SLP can help you.

I also agree with the pp who said even though it's not day 1, you can still act like it is with new procedures/routines, etc. When students say, "But that's not how we..." you can remind them that this is how it will be moving forward. In resource I am constantly getting new students and am used to having to review procedures/rules/routines. Since my students also don't see me for a huge portion of their day, they aren't as attached to routines/procedures that a regular class might be. I'd imagine it would be different in self-contained.

I know it seems scary but I think it might actually be a blessing to be starting now! You'll get a nice little trial period to see what you do/don't like and how you want to run things, and then you can start fresh with a lot more knowledge and preparation next year.

Re: the "not secure" thing- we've talked about that before. It just means it's not set up for things like taking payments or anything like that. Since you're not entering any information that needs to be secure, you don't need to worry about it.


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Old 02-09-2019, 04:43 PM
 
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Haley23 -

Thanks for the helpful information. I'm trying to stay positive as I think taking over a teacher's position toward the end of the school year will be a good benefit and even better learning experience. I just hope to do well enough that I'm able to sign a contract for next school year.

It's a mixture of resource and inclusion in the general ed classroom. I'm going to attend orientation sometime early next week, so I don't know all of the specific details yet.

I would assume the school/district will supply funds for any supplies I need? I'm guessing most supplies are available within the classroom the previous teacher had left. For the new school year, I'm hoping I at least purchase a few things I want.

I think once I become familiar with the position, understand the requirements, and know the policies and procedures, I should be fine. It feels like 100+ questions are running through my head at once. I just need to find and document IEP due dates, meeting dates, and become familiar with any extra help (mentors, other teachers) that I can find.

Crossing my fingers this will be a good 3 1/2 months until the end of the school year.
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