In many districts, it’s common to see 25-30 students in a classroom at once. Adding students with IEPs into the mix adds to the stress, especially for educators who don’t have a degree in or experience with special education. Here are some tips to set all off your students up for success!
1. Read your Student’s IEP – This is one of the most important things to do when teaching students with Individualized Education Programs (IEPs). Remember – this is a legal document that you are required to follow. Additionally, a student’s IEP provides great information to help you save time figuring out what they need to be successful in the classroom. The IEP includes their present levels of academic functioning, instructional and testing accommodations they require, supplementary aids, services, and supports that they require, and their goals. Many case managers will provide you with an “IEP at a Glance.” This is a condensed version of the IEP document with the most important information. If your student’s case manager doesn’t provide you with one, you can download my editable IEP at a Glance form for free!
2.Collaborate – Students with IEPs have an IEP team, which includes an administrator, classroom teachers, a special educator, parents, and related service providers as appropriate. To keep everyone on the same page and provide the student with the most appropriate program, it’s important to collaborate with the IEP team. Sometimes, that just means sending a quick email to a parent to let them know what their child was successful with that day. Other times, it means meeting with the occupational therapist to implement strategies into the classroom.
3. Implement Backwards Planning – Backwards planning is a great practice to ensure that you’re addressing the standards and your student’s IEP goals. First, look at the standards for your grade level and your student’s IEP goals. After identifying what your end target is, you can plan units and lessons. Finally, consider what modifications and/or accommodations your student will need to participate. This helps to guarantee that your lessons are geared for your particular audience to meet the standards/goals instead of planning a lesson that doesn’t line up with student need and standards.
4. Utilize Universal Design for Learning (UDL) – UDL is a fantastic way to teach ALL of your students, including those with higher needs. It focuses on providing multiples ways of representation, expression, and engagement. Multiple means of representation means that you present content and information in different ways. Similarly, you allow students to show what they know in a variety of ways and allow students different ways to learn (differentiation). Most importantly, realize they are a student first, just like the rest of your class! It’s easy to get overwhelmed with the additional work you may need to do, but when I remember they are just a student, it brings everything back into perspective!
Thanks for reading my post! My name is Georgia. I’m starting my 3rd year of teaching as a K-5 special education resource teacher. I love working with all different grade levels in both the general education and special education settings. I am also working towards my masters in Educational Leadership and Administration.