The other week, something happened in my classroom that made me think "well I definitely didn't learn how to handle this in college!" I don't quite remember what happened, but it was either the day a child threw up or the day a child wanted me to look at his Thursday underwear.
Either way, it gave me the idea to team up with some of my very good special ed blogging friends to bring you this blog post... things you could only learn from teaching in real life.
2. When you think of the teacher-parent relationship you'd like to have, please know that this is a learned and highly practiced skill that you may not get down the first year, or even your fifth. Jennipher of Teach Love Autism wants to you realize that... "You'll have to swallow your pride and do extra work just to please the parent [sometimes]. Learning the balance of maintaining positive relationships with parents and doing what you know is best for the student now and for their future is a daily struggle." In addition to that piece of advice, Michelle of Miss Hey Miss wants you to know that... "Parents can make you or break you. Together we are a team. Create a positive communication rapport within the first few weeks of school so when there are rough patches... which there will, but it will be easier to talk with them because of your previous positive communication interactions."
The Bender's Bunch also advises fellow sped teachers to apply for grants and utilize Donor's Choose. (Don't forget about Pledgecents too! If you want to know more about them, read my previous post here.)
Mrs. P's Specialties says, "Special ed programs often have more adults than students (paras, therapists, teacher, etc.). There needs to be a system for communicating and updating the staff regularly. When everyone is on the same page, students grow and progress quicker." Utilize the help that is given to you and dictate "jobs" to the other adults in your classroom, even if it is bathroom duty. You'll thank yourself later.
Mrs. H's Resource Room has some killer advice on co-teaching and co-planning: "Make common planning with your co-teachers a priority. This is the key to making co-teaching successful. Common planning will ensure that you know what is coming up, gives you buy in to the class and teacher you are working with, allows you to differentiate instruction for all learners, and gives you time to share ideas and come up with plans to reach all students." Get on and stay on the same page.
7. My philosophy on lesson planning has been to always over plan. I mean, like, an extra 30-45 minutes of a lesson over planning. Yeah, I'm that crazy... but for a great reason. Angela from Extra Special Teaching agrees, "Be flexible. Always have some kind of back up, independent work that you can quickly pull out or your aides can quickly pull out. Many times things do not go as planned." When you have a student having a meltdown, and there are other students in the classroom... you need to attend to the behavior, but keep the other students academically occupied. It never hurts to over plan.
8. Just when you thought you were alone in hating your job for a split second, know that you aren't alone. Alicia from Delightfully Dedicated in SPED says, "It's "normal" to hate your job for a season. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. You will not always feel that way." Amen!