One minute you’re on the beach watching the waves crash into the sand, and the next minute you’re receiving your student roster for the upcoming school year.
With a few simple planning steps, you can switch gears and start to prep your return back to school.
Read on for 8 tips to help you (and your students!) ease back into the classroom seamlessly.
Review student IEPs
Before starting the school year, review each student’s individualized education program, or IEP, to ensure you familiarize yourself with educational goals and supports. Make note of any approaching important dates, such as annual IEP meetings, upcoming evaluations/re-evaluations, functional behavior assessment dates, etc. By reviewing the IEPs, you will begin to understand where the children are at in their educational journey, so you can plan accordingly for what they need.
Connect with parents/guardians
Once you receive your new class roster, connect with the students’ parents or guardians. Some ideas include snail mail, a phone call and/or email detailing information about yourself and upcoming dates. A clear line of communication is key in supporting your students in their education.
Regroup with support staff
Schedule a meeting with support staff and related services providers that you’ll be working closely with throughout the school year. These may include teaching assistants, speech and language pathologists, physical therapists, occupational therapists, etc. Create a schedule and plan of support as indicated by the IEP to deliver a well-rounded education for your shared students.
Meet with general education inclusion teachers
If you don’t already have a professional relationship with the general education teachers you’ll be collaborating with, now’s the time to establish one. Share your students’ IEPs and schedules with the general education teachers so together you can create an optimal learning environment based on your students’ needs and goals.
Prep your resources
Begin to brainstorm and gather any classroom resources that you’ll need to start the year off. This may include supply lists, contact information, classroom procedures, etc. Having your resources prepped, organized and easily accessible is a surefire way to keep yourself, and your students, on track in the classroom.
Organize your classroom set up
Strategize the layout of your classroom to ensure optimal functionality. Organize tables and desks in a layout that not only works best for your teaching style, but also allows for your students to feel comfortable and successful in their environment. Determine where to place visual schedules for students to reference, classroom resources/materials for you to have easy access to, and more.
Create a daily schedule
Start a draft of a daily schedule – both a master classroom version, as well as individual student schedules. Base your schedule off of students’ IEPs, as well as any non-negotiables in the classroom (ie: bathroom breaks, lunch time, etc), then start to pencil in the workings of a daily routine. Of course, this will be subject to change once you start the new school year, but starting with a framework helps support you and your students at the onset.
As with anything, the more prepared you are for change, the easier it will be for you to pivot your daily plan when necessary. Staying organized and flexible will be vital to your transition back into the classroom.