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Special Education Teaching Tips for First Year Teachers

written by: anamariarox • edited by: Elizabeth Stannard Gromisch • updated: 1/5/2012

The new school year is about to start and as a new teacher you are searching for a few tools and tips to help students with special needs in your classroom. Where do you begin?

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    Being a special education teacher is a very big responsibility. The responsibility for creating effective lesson plans and intervention plans for special education students lies in your hands. With your skills as a teacher, you can help special needs students have the best opportunity for learning success.

    The Best Classroom Arrangement

    The student needs to concentrate during classes. To achieve this you must be careful how you arrange the classroom. Make sure each student has an individual working space. Avoid small groups when they are working. Groupings could become a distraction in engaging in the learning and the expected outcome for students who have difficulty in concentration and on task engagement.

    Arrange a few spaces where they can go after they finished their individual work. This way they will not disturb the rest of the kids who are still working. These spaces must have some games such as puzzles to keep student working until the end of the class period.

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    Introduction Day

    On the first school day you should introduce yourself to your students. Tell them what are your expectations are from them. Make sure you let them know that you trust their ability to study and make good decisions.

    Special needs students may need a lot of positive affirmations to boost their self confidence. The teacher should also explain them what they will study during that semester. Do your best to make them see you as an approachable instructional leader in the classroom.

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    Be Flexible

    Being flexible is part of being a special education teacher. Your students may need special attention and individualized attention. If some days, you see that they need to do something else other than what was planned, be flexible and just change everything in your lesson goals. You have to work according to their needs. What you will find is that your students are flexible in the learning process as well.

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    Allow Your Students to Use Word Processing Packages

    You can allow your students to do their homework using a word processing package. For students with learning disabilities this would be very useful. Word processing packages can simplify the writing process and assist students in other academic content areas access the learning objectives and complete them.

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    Ask for Help From an Instructional Assistant

    Instructional Assistants (IAs) are integral assets to special education classes and mainstream classes. They are able to provide individualized attention in helping students organize assignments, prepare for exams and complete homework assignments. IAs are also able to provide behavioral support systems for students needing additional interventions for off task behavior.

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    Provide Appropriate Exam Conditions

    As a special education teacher, you need to provide your students with appropriate exam conditions. For example, they might need a writing assistant. This person can write their dictated answers.

    Students may also need other assistive devices in taking required assessments. Make sure that the exam room has good light, fewer distractions and has a conducive seating arrangement. Teachers have the option to provide the exam questions in written format or have them dictated using a proctor or writing assistant. Check with your students what would be easier for them and use their IEP (Individualized Education Program) to see what directions are provided for your special needs student.

    There are a lot of teaching tools and tips for first year teachers as they begin the new school year. The biggest tip is to get to know your students, study their IEPs, meet with the Special Education case manager, talk with their parents and have conversations with your students daily to make sure that their educational needs are being met each day in your classroom.


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