Simple Special Education Tips to Prepare for a New School Year

Goodness, as a special education teacher, there are about 100 things to do every day. We need the summer to rest, relax, and prepare for the new school year. In this post, I’ll be sharing ten things that I try to do every summer in order to prepare for the next year. 

Reflect on Last Year

Be honest with yourself. What went well? What didn’t go well? What changes would you like to make for next year? As teachers, we should always be looking to grow, learn, and change. I try to reflect and determine a handful of strengths and a handful of weaknesses. 
As I’m writing this, it is the summer of 2020. Which means, I just wrapped up a spring season of eLearning. I had a lot of things that went well, and a few things I discovered as problems areas. Try to think of your reflection in two chunks–before eLearning and after eLearning. 

Find New Routines

From your reflection, you might discover that you need a few new routines. Maybe it is a before or after school routine to keep yourself organized or feeling like you are ahead of the game. It could be something you do during your prep to help save time. 
I also like to think about academic weaknesses in my students and find routines that we can do on a daily or weekly basis to help them improve. In this blog post, I have a few routines that I use in my small reading groups every day. 

Explore New Websites

As we enter into another year of digital learning, we might need to explore new websites. What will make digital learning easier? Once we are back to “normal”, what will make learning easier or more efficient? 
A few ideas that I’ve been exploring this summer are Google Classroom, Boom Learning, Zoom, Google Meet, and Seesaw. 

Brainstorm a Better Year

Imagine if you could have the perfect year. What would it look like? Would you be able to pull smaller groups? Push in to the general education classrooms more? Have a better intervention for reading? 
For me, I have been brainstorming what the perfect RTI system will look like. I’m not thinking about what my principal will think. I’m not thinking about what the grade level teachers will think or say. I’m just brainstorming. 
Now that I know what I want, I’m going to work backwards and start deciding how I can make that happen. What hurdles will I need to jump over to get the perfect system in place? 

Shop for Supplies

For me, this is the FUN part! I love school supply shopping. And as special education teachers, we often don’t have kids bringing in a backpack full of supplies. Here is a list of supplies that I like to be on the lookout for over the summer. 

Create an Amazon Wishlist

Do you always have a list of things that are little out of your price range? If you do, create an Amazon wishlist. You can easily share it to your social media so your friends and family members have the opportunity to help out. If your district allows, you can also share it with your students’ parents. 
I had a friend on Facebook post her Amazon wishlist. She had everything from $5-10 chapter books for her classroom library to more expensive items for flexible seating options. 

Learn from Others

I love to get ideas from others. Some of my favorite activities and routines have come from Facebook groups. If you are a special education teacher, I invite you to join The Resource Room Facebook Group. 
During the summer, you can also join book studies or other online professional development. I learned so much from my book study this summer. I can’t wait to implement some of the ideas I got both from the book and the other teachers. 

Review & Organize IEPs

Nothing feels better than getting organized and ready for an upcoming school year. Review IEPs and make notes of things that need to change, goals, and services. I like to keep my IEPs in a binder, so they can be referenced quickly and easily. 

Prepare for Progress Monitoring

Progress Monitoring can get away from me if I’m not prepared. I suggest taking some time to plan for progress monitoring. In this post, I share what I put in my progress monitoring tub to help me be ready for the school year!

Relax & Recharge

This is the MOST important tip! It is so easy to get sucked into all of the beautiful and genius ideas you see on Instagram, Pinterest, and in Facebook Groups. Take time to unplug and relax. I know I often have to remind myself that it’s ok to take a break. It’s ok to take a vacation or sit and read a book. It’s also ok to have an unproductive week where you barely get out of your pajamas and watch Netflix all day every day. Put yourself first, so you can be ready! 
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