View Full Version : Opening a Special Ed Class Grades 1-8

12-23-05, 11:38 AM
The following are some important tips for a special ed teacher who is starting a new school year. These are primarily geared towards multi-grade Learning Handicapped, or Severely Emotionally Disturbed classrooms:


* Desks should be arranged in a manner where each student has his/her own personal sharing or grouping, as this leads to major distractions for the special ed child.
* Centers should be arranged in various parts of the room where students can go when they are done with their individual work, so they do not disturb others. These centers can be filled with fun and educational things such as puzzles, easy reading with pictures, GeoSafariŠ, and other hands-on material.
* The teacher's and aide's desks should be placed at opposite ends of the classroom, front and back, for supervision purposes.


As in regular ed classrooms, some bulletin boards should be reserved for the students' work, while others should cover topics that are also being covered in the curricula at that time. For example: when I work on my Ocean Unit, I put up a bulletin board with a blue backing, different sea life taped onto it, and I drape an old fishing net over it, complete with small sea shells caught inside the net. Next to this board, I have a center with many shells, complete with two books all about shells and the ocean floor.

On the first day, plan on reviewing your CLASSROOM RESPONSIBILITIES, (not RULES--the kids become immediately resistant), SCHOOL STANDARDS, and your PERSONAL EXPECTATIONS.

This last part is extremely important. Most of these students have gotten used to low expectations from their previous teachers...and as a result, have tried little, academically and behaviorally. If your personal expectations are high (but realistic) they will raise themselves to your expectations!

Depending on the age of the students, you may want to include your expectations for the overall year. However, for special ed students, you must be clear about choices they make, and positive and negative consequences of those choices.

* Placement tests: Begin the first day giving at least one placement test and try to have all tests completed by the third day. The sooner you have the students in a routine, the better.
* Fun activities: Plan some fun activities for the first day. Let them have a period of time to interact together. They may play games, work on a fun assignment together, or whatever you decide.
* In an elementary school, start organized P.E. from the very beginning. Tremendous social skills, along with physical skills, classroom cohesion and organizational skills are developed on the playground--especially with the special ed student.


* ALWAYS PLAN MUCH MORE THAN YOU'LL GET THROUGH IN A DAY. Sometimes, some of your ideas won't work out with these particular kids on that particular day, and you'll have to switch. Also, with high expectations...your students may do better than you expected, and finish sooner than expected!
* Be prepared to THINK ON YOUR FEET. These students are often extremely intelligent and expect you to take them to areas you may not have anticipated. On the reverse side, a discipline, or learning problem, that unexpectedly shows up and is not dealt with immediately and appropriately, can destroy a lesson for the entire class.
* Be FLEXIBLE. Some days, even the first week, you end up having to forget about your plans and do something unplanned. That's okay and part of being a special ed teacher!
* Finally, and probably most important, ENJOY YOU R KIDS. These are usually sweet, fun kids, and a good special ed teacher can have a greater effect on their future than anyone else. pecialEducation.html