Classroom and Social

Back To School in SPED: 10 Essential Items to Prepare

Prepare for back to school in SPED before the year begins. We all want to start the school year feeling ready to go. Preparation in advance is the key. The following 10 items are critical to have organised before the students arrive. Note this page was written prior to COVID lockdowns. However, much of the prep work is still relevant and the checklist was updated to simply include the word digital in some areas.

If you are a new teacher either to Special Education or to the field. Welcome. You in particular will find this list handy. If you are an old hand, reflect on last year – distance and in class. What will you change/prepare? Read on for some ideas/reminders to help you get ready.

Items to Prepare For SPED Back To School

  1. plan for the year/ detailed unit for first term/weekly overview/daily overview including routines
  2. Rough timetable drafted (we all know this will change) include all specialties known
  3. Schedules: class, individual schedules; work task schedules, first/then (I have more info on what to include and some free schedules here)
  4. Resources for first 4 weeks – (items organised to accompany planning including books and sensory items prepped eg playdough made/ rice dyed (here are some great sensory ideas here)
  5. Rules to focus on and reward system (if using) – planned/printed/prepared (download my rules poster free here)
  6. Communication core boards low tech printed
  7. Teaching Assistant expectation folder done
  8. Breaks plan for staff created, printed and laminated
  9. Beginning of school year letter to parents written
  10. Sub plan and resources for one week done

There are many more items required of course such as seating plans but this is the basics to get you started. In NZ and much of Australia, we plan IEP meetings at the same time each year. All student meetings are done at this time but if you live in a country where each student’s IEP is done at different times obviously a cheat sheet page with key dates recorded would be a critical document for you.

Prepare as much as you can for back to school

Do as much as you can before the students arrive, to lessen the beginning of the year anxiety/butterflies that happen to everyone. The first few weeks you will be exhausted emotionally for a number of reasons: getting on top of those school holiday behaviours that have crept in; taking on board a whole lot of information from parents, therapists and students; teaching the expectations, routines and schedules and settling into a rhythm with new teaching assistants. Therefore the more prepared you are the less daunting it will be. It also means after school and in the weekend in those first few weeks, you will be able to relax without lots of prep.

Where to begin when preparing for back to school in SPED

If you haven’t started yet just breathe first. Then choose one thing and get working on it. Organise the things that you have to sit and focus on and give yourself a little break for others. Making schedule pictures, printing and laminating can be done as you watch a little Netflix! That way it will feel like you’re having a break but you will still be able to tick things off the list.

Checklist to Help You Prepare

Checklist to prepare for back to school in SPED

Speaking of ticking things off a list I have included a very simple checklist just so you don’t forget things. Simply print and start in whatever order you wish. Complete one at a time and get it ticked off. It will inspire you to keep going and it is a sense of accomplishment every time you see another item checked. Off you go now and begin as sadly, it won’t do itself.

Print checklist here.

Aroha, Ann

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