While working with students with moderate to severe disabilities can be incredibly rewarding, it also poses its own set of unique challenges. The one-size-fits-all instructional approach that may work in general education cannot be replicated for students receiving specially designed instruction and related services (and rightfully so!). A personalized approach to learning for special education students requires careful consideration and a solid understanding of the federal education laws in place to protect our student population. In this eBook, we will uncover the top 5 pressing pain points that special educators face and offer strategies to help you navigate them effectively to ensure your students have every opportunity to thrive.
Heading to the beach? Looking forward to longer, slower days? Planning to teach ESY? For many special education teachers, the answers here are: check, check, check! When a traditional school year ends though, what comes next for students with moderate to severe disabilities? For many, an ESY program is an important part of their IEP that helps ensure they continue making progress on key skills.
As we continue to navigate the realm of heightened staff shortages, special education departments today look slightly different than they did a decade ago. If you were to ask a Special Education Director who makes up their team, they would likely reply that it hosts a mix of teachers who are fresh out of college, or who have transitioned from general education or an inclusion classroom into a self-contained setting. To the surprise of many, a Special Education Director may even tell you that some of their special educators are teaching while still working through the formal certification process at night. This guide is designed to help new-to-the-field special educators define best practices for writing effective IEP goals that will drive students down a path of academic and personal success.
Have you ever applied for a job and noticed that the application you were filling out had an Equal Opportunity Employment (EOE) disclaimer listed? That’s there because employers are required by law to notify applicants that they don’t (and legally can’t!) discriminate based on certain things, like disabilities. Similarly, as the EOE law is in place to protect workers, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) has been established to protect the rights of special education students.
Today, schools are faced with heightened challenges brought on by special education teachers and related service providers leaving the profession at faster rates than new hires are entering it. Staff shortages can lead to disruptions in learning for students, and it's essential to find ways to support and retain the teachers who make a difference in their lives. Let’s talk about some strategies that can help to offset the burdens fueled by staff shortages, from professional development and mentorship to higher pay and providing high-quality curriculum resources.
Think about your everyday life as an adult involved in your community. What do you do? What skills do you need to have to go, for example, grocery shopping? Or to a restaurant? For students with disabilities, life skills – the skills needed to manage selfcare, are correlated to improved education, employment and independent living outcomes.
It goes without saying that learning safety skills is important for everyone, but it’s critical for students with moderate to severe disabilities. If these skills are not taught directly and systematically, they often will not be learned naturally. Let’s tap into key safety skills that can be taught in the classroom and practiced in natural environments, as well as how you can teach them effectively.
Ever heard of the “Sunday Scaries?” Often times, the Sunday Scaries are referenced on a Sunday night when Monday morning is quickly approaching. For many, this means wrapping up a weekend of relaxation and transitioning back into the 9-5 grind, or for students, it means heading back to a full week of school. Transitions in general can pose feelings of overwhelm, and that leap from high school to post-secondary life is certainly no different - especially for students with moderate to severe disabilities.
Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), students with disabilities have the right to receive a free and appropriate public education. This means that all students will receive the same academic opportunities as their typically developing peers. As a special educator, you recognize that academic progress for your students with moderate to severe disabilities is important, but you also know it’s not the full picture. Supporting prosocial, adaptive, and functional skills, among others, is key in helping your students reach their full potential and live as independently as possible one day.
Technology has revolutionized the capabilities of special education software, providing unprecedented resources and opportunities to students with disabilities. From interactive software that breaks down academic concepts into chunks to communication tools designed specifically for those struggling in general education settings, advancements in special education technology are opening up a world of potential.