When did you decide to become a teacher? When it was time for college, I enrolled in the Elementary Education teacher preparation program at the University of Vermont. Whether you decided in college, grad school or later in life, every teacher has gone through a teacher preparation program. While I loved my program at UVM, there are certain things you could only learn on the job… UNTIL NOW!
Enter The Simply Special Ed Blogger Team
The Simply Special Ed blogger team is a group of experienced teachers, SLPs and OTs who write monthly about some of those teacher tips you learn only by being in the classroom.
Check out my top five things I wish I learned in my teacher prep program below!
1. Use student’s IEP goals to guide instruction, regardless of the educational setting (NOT just in self-contained!)
Whether you are teaching a standard curriculum or a modified curriculum, you can (and should!) keep your students’ IEP goals in mind. This way, you can use the strengths of the student to guide your practice. Creating academic task boxes is one of my favorite ways to teach academic skills AND help my students meet their IEP goals. See Whitney’s post on how to set up task boxes here!
2. The prompt hierarchy exists, but that doesn’t mean you need to use every level.
If you are a brand new teacher, you may not know what the prompt hierarchy is. I know that this is one strategy I did not learn in my teacher prep program but I use it EVERY day.
Depending on your student and what you are teaching, you may want to work from most to least prompting or from least to most. Regardless of how you are prompting, if you are teaching a fine motor skill, let the student do it as best as they can WITHOUT physically intervening. Taylor, our SSE Blogger and resident OT writes about why she doesn’t use hand over hand prompting here!
3. Get familiar with AAC- even if you don’t have AAC users this year
What is AAC? AAC stands for Assistive and Augmentative Communication. These systems are in place (work with your SLP!) to provide a method of communication for those students who are nontraditionally verbal. AAC can be used to address both expressive and receptive language! Find out more here!
There are many different types of AAC. The two main types are Low Tech AAC (think PECS, yes/no boards, etc) and High Tech AAC (think ProLoQuo2Go, Dynavox, TouchChat, etc). Read more about the pros and cons of dyne different types of AAC here!
4. Incorporate real world skills in the classroom
As a millennial, something I hear ALL the time is “Why didn’t they teach us this is school?” Well, now is your chance! Regardless of your instructional setting or your students’ ages and abilities, you can teach life skills or activities of daily living. In my late elementary classroom, we work on brushing our teeth, going grocery shopping and preparing meals. See how Kate teaches life skills in her high school class here!
5. Promote the inclusion of students with their same age peers!
As a special education teacher, you are your students’ first advocate within the school building. Other teachers and other students will look to you to see how you interact with your students. Be proud of your students and all that they can do. The benefits of inclusion are not strictly for the students in special education. ALL students benefit from inclusion. Alyssa, the founder of Simply Special Ed gave us 10 tips for promoting inclusion on the blog. Check it out here!
Experienced Teachers: What is one thing you wish you learned before you started teaching?
New Teachers: What else are you curious about learning before you head into your first or second year?
Hey new teachers, applying for a job soon? Get my application checklist for free, here.