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Back to school tips for Special Education Teachers in 2021

Back to school tips (2)

Back to school is finally here, with the students across the UK returning once more to classrooms after a long and arduous year of distance learning. Most schools will be teaching on-site in the coming year and it is definitely time for teachers to brush up a bit on their to-do lists and beginning of year tasks. Performing these duties as a SEN teacher can be even more time consuming, which is why we at Senploy have arranged a neat list of education tips and tricks for teachers to help you out with Back to School 2021!

How do teachers prepare for back to school?

Teachers have to prepare for a new school year in a couple different ways, ranging from clerical, admin duties, reviewing student files and starting or restarting communication with the rest of the school staff as well as parents.

SEN teachers need to keep track of a lot of things for all their students. These include:

  • Individualised Education Programs (IEPs)

IEPs specify a SEN pupil's goals and objectives for any given year. They are arranged by the pupil's parents working with specialised therapists and counsellors and are the main guide on how a teacher should approach an individual student through the year.

Review all the children's IEPs and, if necessary, consult with the child's parents and other professionals they interact with regularly on the best approaches to the tasks specified in the document!

  • Communication logs

Communication is key in an SEN teaching environment as every child's needs are different. By keeping a clean track of all the conversations as well as any additional notes that result from them, you will be keeping one step ahead, able to provide the best education and support to your pupils!

Review, keep tidy and keep notes! There will be a lot of phone calls you have to make, so make sure you're keeping good track of all of them! Don't forget to communicate with any co-teachers or SEN teaching assistants. They'll be helping you out, so they need the same info that you have!

  • Daily schedules

After reviewing the IEPs and making any necessary calls, you will have to prepare daily schedules with personalised plans for the students. These can include food menus as well.

  • Any additional teaching material

If you have realised a daily schedule, you can take your time to prepare any additional materials you will want to include in your lessons, such as little tasks that need printing or any games. Keep track of it all and keep it at the ready when coming in for your scheduled classes.

It is always good to refamiliarise yourself (or check it over if you are coming in for the first time!) with the classroom itself. You need to keep in touch with any materials that might need updating or anything else that might need tidying up. We are still in a pandemic, so keeping a clean and safe environment for everyone is paramount!

What should a teacher do in their first week of school?

Last year has been an odd one, especially for students and mostly the younger or new ones. Some of the children have missed out completely on interacting with a classroom environment in their first year of education or in their first year at any given stage of education. They might not have had the chance to meet their classmates or you, the teacher, in person.

  • Prepare tasks and activities to ease your students into a classroom environment

It is a good idea to develop teamwork skills in students by introducing tasks they need to do in groups. Always keep track of a student's IEP when planning any tasks, though. Even without neurodiversity, students come from all manner of environments and they all need individual approaches that will demonstrate to them that their personalities and preferences are being valued.

  • Beginning of the year (B.O.Y.) assessments

The first week is the time to start conducting any beginning of the year assessments that will be used to update the students' IEPs and possibly set new goals for them in the future. These are especially important after the long period of distance learning, as many children might need additional support to adjust back to a classroom environment.

  • Tips for distance learning

In case SEN students need to be engaged through distance learning, such as due to Covid-19, we have prepared a few tips for that as well. Distance learning can be challenging, both for the teacher and the students, as the social element is greatly diminished in such an environment. A lot of children and young people will need assistance keeping up their mental health, engaging with the school setting outside of the school setting. Even if most schools are returning to classrooms this year, some families might still feel reservations in regards to sending their children out during a pandemic, especially if they have not had both of their vaccine shots.

  • Working together with the student and their family/carers, is paramount

Remember all the communication tips? You will be expected to engage the students' families and therapists, assistants even more in case of classes being delivered via distance learning. Find out how best to help, review the IEPs multiple times as well if necessary. Form plans together with the student's family or carers and work closely with them.

  • Review, Plan, Communicate and Realise

Special education presents its own difficulties faced with distance learning. Many students will struggle especially with focus and attention. If possible, utilise technologies and applications that help engage students or develop their skills. Many psychological institutes are working hard on developing readily available programs to assist students and their teachers in tackling this very real problem our times have presented us with. As technology is advancing, it is your task as a teacher to keep up with it.

Children and young people are adaptable to these changes. We have the responsibility to keep an open mind and be ready in order to make the best of the next academic year. If you would like to learn more about the SEN experience, check our latest SEN resources on:

  1. How to promote disability awareness in the classroom
  2. How to become a SENCo in 2021
  3. How to become a special educational needs assistant
  4. A simple teaching guide to dyslexia

Don't forget to check our recent special educational needs job vacancies.

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