Whether you are a new or veteran special education teacher, these prep tips for back to school just might surprise you. Read on to find out my favorite prep tips to stay organized, prep materials, and build routines this new school year.
Tip #1 Organize Schedule Pieces
When you prep your schedule pieces, make lots of extras of each type of schedule piece! Throughout the day, pieces can get lost easily, so I like to have lots of extras on hand so that we can replace pieces as needed. I use this storage container to store and organize my extra schedule pieces (affiliate link)I hope this helps! You can learn more about how to organize them here.
Tip #2 Prep Extra Student Schedules
When prepping student schedules, always prep 2-4 extra. You never know when you’ll get a new student on a whim (I always get at least 2 each year). Nothing is worse than having to rush to prep and/or nhttps://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Simple-Math-Curriculum-for-Students-with-Special-Needs-2724549?st=5cc1164679bd0c1a978e0ff724ef1f31&utm_source=SSE%20Blog-%2010%20Back%20to%20School%20Prep%20Tips&utm_campaign=Simple%20Math%20Workbooksot be prepared! This way, the new student can have a schedule on their day 1.
Tip #3 Prep Curriculum Now
Prep your curriculum materials NOW (during the summer) instead of during the school year. Prep all levels of your curriculum even if you don’t need them now. (you will need them all at some point in your career) Be sue to prep all materials that align with the curriculum and store them together by unit/level (file folders, task boxes, workbooks, data sheets, etc). This will save you TONS of time and stress during the year if you have all your materials prepped ahead of time. You’re also more likely to actually use the curriculum the way it was intended if you prep it in advance and organize it!
Tip #4 Prepare a “Man Down” Schedule
A man down schedule will help you prepare for the changes that occur when you have a staff member out. It can be stressful and overwhelming trying to piece your day together when you’re down a person. A Man Down Schedule takes a lot of the piecing together out of the picture! Practice your man down schedule often so that everyone on your team understands the flow. (learn about zoning plans in this blog post.)
PRO TIP make this schedule before the year even begins just like you do with your regular schedule!
Free Zoning Plan Sheets are available here.
Tip #5 Color Code your Classroom
Use colored duct tape to color code your group tables for easy identification. You can also color code your schedule pieces to indicate which table my students go to for each activity- this keeps things simple and leads to 0 confusion about where to go! This prep tip can help provide visual supports to your students to increase their independence navigating their school day. More color coding tips in this blog post!
PRO TIP: My schedule pieces come already color code for you.
Tip #6 Make a Prep List
This may seem like an obvious one, but trust me when I say I have made the mistake of NOT doing this prep tip: Make a list of what you need to prep. Especially during the back to school season when you are prepping lots of things, make a list and prioritize what you need to prep. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve started too many prep projects at once and gotten things mixed up, then nothing gets finished. OR I completely forget to prep something very important! Make the list!
Tip #7 Attach your Velcro BEFORE Cutting
Attach your velcro BEFORE cutting out your laminated pieces. This is a HUGE time saver!
More lamination tricks in this blog post.
Tip #8 Create a Prep Station
We often have very little time to prep materials in our classrooms, especially with our paraprofessionals By creating a Resource Prep Station, your paras will always have something to work on when there is down time. Grab some bins and label them: to copy, to laminate, to cut, to velcro then place materials inside! There will always be something to do!
Tip #8 Always save boxes and containers
If you plan on having a task box center, start saving old boxes, containers, paper towel rolls, coffee creamer bottles, etc now for easy task boxes! I typically purchase small/$1 materials to use with these containers/boxes such as, pom pom balls, colored popsicle sticks, mini erasers, colored buttons, etc. The students love them and they last! Learn how to start a Task Box Center in this blog post.
Tip #9 Laminate worksheets for Independent Work
You can always laminate worksheets you use often and put them in a binder with a dry erase marker to save paper and time. If you use cut and paste worksheets with your students, laminate and Velcro some of them for added practice as well as independent center work! I love doing this with math and spelling worksheets!
Tip #10 Focus on Routines
At the beginning of the school year, focusing on building routines, structure, and consistency will go a long way! Spend extra times teaching routines and learning classroom systems and your year will flow more smoothly. The First 10 Days of School are all about routine!
I hope you enjoyed this roundup of prep tips! These tips came from SSE Bloggers Whitney and Michelle! Thanks for sharing!