Sharing IEP Information with School Staff

As a student's special education teacher or program manager, it is your job to make sure that an IEP is being followed.  Part of that is ensuring that teachers and staff working with your students are informed about certain applicable aspects of their IEPs.  An IEP is a confidential legal document so there are many things to think about when sharing information.

Children's Books That Include Characters with Disabilities

It is really important for teachers to include books that provide mirrors (books where students can really identify with the characters) and windows (books where the students can see into the lives of those that are different from them).  A book that may be a mirror for some, may be a window for others.

Books that include characters with disabilities and illnesses are so important to include in our classroom and home libraries.  They provide windows AND mirrors, often at the same time, for ourselves and our children.  Through the magic of reading, our students can learn about others and be more accepting and inclusive.

17 Essentials for Your Special Education Classroom

I recently got an email from a newly graduated teacher headed towards the first classroom of her very own.  She wanted to know what were some must-haves for her special education classroom.  I tried to think of some of my favorite items and some less-obvious things.  I came up with 17 things that made my classroom life easier and better.

If you're not a special education teacher, that is okay!  Most of the things on this list will apply to you and your classroom too!

How Special Education Teachers Can Improve the IEP Meeting Experience for Parents

As a parent, heading into an IEP meeting is overwhelming.  Even well-seasoned parents of children with special needs get nervous before walking into a meeting where the sole purpose is to dissect what their child can and cannot do.  There are some things that special education teachers can do for parents to elevate some of the anxiety that comes with attending IEP meetings.

Dear Tired Teacher,

It seems that as soon as spring hits, teachers start fantasizing about what their classroom will be like in the fall.  We start thinking of all of the ways to improve what we have been doing this year.  We say things like, "Next year, I will always have my attendance in on time" or "I'm going to be so much more organized next year."  You may already know your teaching assignment for next year.  You may be getting excited for a new classroom configuration you want to try out or a whole new grade level you've never taught before.  But, my tired teacher friend, I urge you to slow down and remain present in THIS year.

Improve Student Writing with Guided Research Projects

I've never really been a fan of teaching writing, but I always really dreaded when it was time to teach informative writing.  Even as a student, research projects were the worst!  As a teacher, I especially hated when it was time for research projects to begin.  

For me, the topic was always too big and I didn't know where to start.  I had a hard time staying on topic.  I never really knew when it was time to be done researching and time to begin writing.  I found that a lot of my students were having the same issues and knew there needed to be a better way.

Staying Positive While Feeling Overwhelmed

It is a known fact that teachers have stressful jobs.  Many times, we do not know how stressed we are until we get totally overwhelmed.  Depending on your school environment, you may feel overwhelmed more often than not.  The following are some ways to remain positive and calm when feeling overwhelmed at school.

Building Strong Parent Teacher Relationships in Your Classroom

As teachers, one of our greatest resources can be the parents of the students we work with.  It takes time and effort to foster strong relationships with parents, but it is often more than worth it in the end.

I've worked with parents that are ready to jump right in and become a partner right away and others that needed more coaxing.  There are several things you can do to create a welcoming environment that produces parent allies or even parent partners.