Special Educators Have More than the Typical Teacher Responsibilities!

diana 1Every new school year is stressful; despite the fact that I love and look forward to new beginnings. Stress, if not properly managed, easily causes me to feel incompetent and overwhelmed. There are just so many variables to consider at the start of the school year, and juggling is not always my forte.  Managing new students (and parents) that are added to the existing caseload, new teaching responsibilities, scheduling meeting, learning new forms along with other IEP responsibilities, is daunting. I am out of breath and haven’t yet mentioned teaching and classroom management.

Over my thirty-years of teaching, I have discovered some strategies for managing the start-up craze. First of all, make contact with all the new parents on your caseload and share with them how to best get in touch with you.  Ask parents how they are best reached and what form of communication they’d prefer.  Always remember that parents aren’t your enemy, they are your partner.  Next, begin to set a calendar of all meetings for the year. Confirm dates selected with providers and begin to provide parents with meeting dates and times.  The goal should be that by the end of September, all of the annuals and triennials meetings should be calendared for the year.  Committing to scheduling meetings will ensure a smooth school year and alleviate anxiety. I promise that less than one percent of your meetings will change if you provide parents with advance notice.

I provide all of my students and parents with an easy way to get in touch with me after hours.  I’ve done this for years, so that parents who would like to share academic responsibility with me can. I post my home number! You may think that sharing my home number with parents is unnecessary, but I have only experienced benefit from it for over thirty-years of teaching: first, my students have access to me when they need me the most and that is when they sit down to complete their homework, second, I get to further develop a relationship with my students. Many times the phone call that I receive is from a student who just needs a quick minute of support.  Again, that the phone call will ensure success in so many ways: homework getting completed, student feeling that he/she can do it, student is advocating for him/herself all of these are positives. Sometimes a parent will call and ask questions regarding the something he/she didn’t understand about homework that evening and occasionally, a parent will call with a concern. This too helps manage stress in that you are hearing from the parent before they are at his/her wits-end.  In all of my years of teaching, it happened once, I did meet a parent on a weekend to address her concerns. By Monday morning, everything had calm down and it was business as usual.

Sure special education teachers have a lot of responsibilities, but I wouldn’t trade my job for anything! Next time, I look forward to sharing my training with positive discipline in the classroom.

 

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About talkcounts

Diana Loiewski has been teaching special needs students for over thirty years. She not only is a classroom high school teacher, she also serves as an administrative designee in IEP meetings, and case work trainer for the military Exceptional Family Member Program. In addition, she presents on special education topics all over the country and is a co author of Individual Education Plan Workbook for Success, and Healthy Relationships a multimedia workbook for special education teens and adults. ___________________________________________________________________ Elizabeth Dominick is the parent of an 18-year-old special needs student. Elizabeth and her husband navigated the special needs odyssey from the time their son was 3 years old to the present. She and her husband have placed their son in both public and private settings and have worked with attorney advocates to get better services. Ultimately, they ended up educating themselves on special education law. Elizabeth is a past reporter and editor and currently writes parent meditations and other articles for iepsurvival.com. __________________________________________________________________ Sharon McCormick is a special education teacher and blogger. She has been in the classroom for over fifteen years. Prior to that time, she worked with emotionally disturbed youth in residential and group home settings. She is clever and creative and enjoys supporting students with special education needs. ___________________________________________________________________________ Renee Tompkins is a graduate of Illinois State University with a Master’s Degree in Speech and Language Services. She is an amazing and energetic professional with fifteen years of experience working directly with special needs students. She also serves as a board member of the Special Education Foundation and supports fundraising efforts for teachers within the Poway Unified School District. She is currently employed with the Poway Unified School District and she delivers services to both groups and individuals in the transition program working with adults eighteen-years-- twenty-two years of age. Her current responsibilities include organizing and running a healthy relationship program with both men and women with intellectual disabilities.
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