New Students: Starting the School Year Right

by Howard Gerber on August 16, 2011

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Every year, new students and teachers must learn to work together in the classroom. A special education teacher must coordinate with numerous people to make sure their new students receive the help and services they need to succeed in school.

Studentsback-to-school

At the start of the school year, you will simply focus on the students you have been assigned. You will not begin scanning for new students who may need to be tested for several weeks. During the week or so before students arrive; review the files of all new students. If possible, visit the classroom teachers from the previous year to learn more about what the student likes and dislikes as well as their biggest challenges and past successes.

Classroom Teachers

Once you are familiar with the students you will be assisting, visit the classroom teachers they will be with this school year. Provide a print out of accommodations for individual students to make sure they are receiving assistance from the very beginning. This will be an invaluable service for the classroom teachers, especially new teachers who have limited exposure to special needs children and may not be sure what they should do in regards to helping them feel accepted and successful from the first day.

Special Education Team

Some students will have a larger educational team than others. Students may have an occupational therapist, speech therapist, counselor, or assistant who will be helping them throughout the week in addition to you and the classroom teacher. Coordinate a meeting with all parties as early into the school year as possible so everyone will be aware of how they can assist the child with all areas. Overlapping services are almost as bad as a lack of services. If everyone is able to work together skills can be reinforced without becoming boring and no skill set or knowledge area will be overlooked.

Parents

Parents are possibly the most important member of a student’s educational team. If the framework that is set up for the child is not reinforced at home it can lead to set backs or further academic struggles. Don’t wait for the annual review to get to know the parents of your students. Call them within the first week of getting back to school and find out how the child did over the summer. If there were major changes in the family dynamic or if the child attended a camp and has shown improvements since the last school year, this should be taken into consideration as soon as possible. Exchange contact information with the parents and encourage them to become active participants in their child’s education.

What tips and tricks do you have for special education teachers who want to make sure their students start the school year right? Do you have games, routines, or methods you have found to be especially useful?

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