Planning with Regular Classroom Teachers
An elementary teacher's classroom schedule can often be complicated. On one day, she has an hour of planning time in the morning. On another day, she has 30 minutes in the morning and 30 in the afternoon. If you are a special education teacher, then the inclusion teacher preparation time often has to be incorporated into the regular classroom teacher's planning time. This can also be a challenge for you if you have students from different classrooms or grade levels, so you may need to use paraprofessionals or co-teachers to help you teach your students and plan lessons with other teachers. Ideally, you should plan with regular classroom teachers weekly or biweekly, and you should also have some inclusion teacher planning time to yourself. Once you have a schedule and have followed it for a month, all involved parties should evaluate how it's working and make any changes.
Tips for Getting the Most out of Planning Time
Since your inclusion teacher planning time is limited, it's important to stay focused, be organized, and have a routine for planning time. Here are some tips and ideas for setting up the teacher planning time:
Have a copy of the students' IEP with you when you meet with regular classroom teachers.
- Plan fo
r the student first before you address concerns. Once you start discussing a student's progress or concerns over behavior and so on, time can fly. Get the business taken care of first–what is the student supposed to read this week? What objective needs to be focused on? and so on.
- Once lesson plans are set, discuss any concerns about the student. If time runs out, these concerns can be discussed over e-mail if they are urgent. If not, you can make a note of them and discuss them at the next set inclusion teacher preparation time.
In the last few minutes, set goals for the student's week and one idea or concern to think over until the next meeting.
If you consistently run out of time when you are meeting with other teachers because you have to discuss more than one student or you are both talking a lot, then set a timer for each step above. For example, planning the students' week may take 10 to 15 minutes. Once the timer goes off, then whether or not you are finished, you have to go on to concerns. If there aren't any, then you can go back to planning. After using a timer for a few meetings, you may not need it any more to use your teacher planning time effectively.
Planning Time Law
Laws exist for planning time, and they differ from state to state. If you are not sure of your inclusion teacher preparation time laws or rights, then talk with your teacher union representative in your building. You can also check with your state's department of elementary and secondary education if you have questions about your planning time.