Focusing on organization at the beginning of the school year is the key to success. Being organized saves time, and provides peace of mind. The first step in being organized is by collaborating with the general education teachers you will work with. Remember you are a team!
1. Provide them with a list of your special needs students that are in their classrooms. Include relevant information such as services, accommodations, health concerns, behavior intervention plans, etc. Be sure to provide any personal information that will help them to understand the student’s needs, such as family situations, learning styles, etc.
2. Compile a master chart of their schedules and preferred times for pulling out or pushing into their classrooms to provide services. This chart will help you in scheduling. Try to accommodate teacher time requests, taking into consideration any paraprofessional support that is available, as well as minimizing travel time for yourself.
3. Explain your instructional methods and materials. Agree on a place for you to work with the students, and a designated place to store your teaching supplies.
4. Finally, ask if there is any beginning of the year placement testing they might need.
You are on the way to an organized year.
I am one of the thousands of teachers heading back to the classroom this week, after an all too fleeting summer. As I prepare for this year, I continue to reflect on my successes and mishaps from the previous school year. These experiences range from the exuberant student who was finally able to read an Accelerated Reader book independently, to being the teacher who was feeling flustered trying to meet the numerous deadlines and important needs of my students. Surely, this constant push to meet the never ending deadlines of paperwork and tasks, is a major reason most teachers are left ragged and gasping for breath by the school year’s end.
This year I have made a “New Year’s Resolution in July” to find ways to be more efficient with my time, and to streamline tasks. A good place to start was by reading an article by Joe Mathews, Don Debolt, and Deb Percival at Entrepreneur.com. While simple, their thought provoking statement that all time is spent in three distinct ways, either in thought, conversation, or action, lead me to reflect on the truth in their words.
As teachers, we are continually engaged in thought. How best to present a lesson, engage a student, or respond to a parent. In addition, possibly the most productive thinking is spent in reflection. Productive reflection allow educators to expand their knowledge and skills. Genuine conversation with colleagues enriches our minds and refreshes our souls, as well as providing a vehicle for collaboration. Conversation encourages rapport with our students and their families. Action provides the vehicle for meeting the deadlines and tasks necessary for successful teaching. Action is where I need to resolve to be more efficient. What ideas do you have for being more effective in your actions this school year?