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Got the Teaching Job & Planning the First Weeks of School!

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teaching job and planning the first weeks of school

You got that teaching job, congratulations! But now, whether you are a first-year teacher or a teacher changing positions you start thinking. “What am I going to teach the first weeks of school?” And don’t worry, we have all been there. It’s a daunting task thinking about all the rules and procedures you want to have in place but, how to get it all in? In this blog, I’m sharing what every special education teacher needs to have in place to start the year right! AND I’ve got a surprise solution at the end that can save you time and energy!

Creating a Functional Classroom Setup

Before the students come into the classroom you will need to consider the following questions:

  • Where will students come in and get unpacked?
  • Where and how will they pack up at the end of the day?
  • Where will you have students take breaks? Read Books? Use Computers?
  • Where will you put their schedules so they can easily see them and use them?
  • Will you have an independent work area? Do you need an adult nearby?
  • Will you rotate centers? What will those transitions look like?
  • Which materials will be kept hidden and out of view so as not to distract?
  • Where will your whole group lessons be taught? What about individual work time?
  • Are there any students in wheelchairs?

*There are a TON of things to think about when setting up your special ed classroom and these are just a few. You can read more about classroom setup and the must-haves here!

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Plan and Prep Beginning of the Year Schedules in Your Teaching Job

I actually start my special education teaching job with barely any academics. I know, it sounds weird but it’s so worth it once we get later into the year and your classroom is running like a well-oiled machine! So what do we do? Well, a lot of procedures, routines, rules, and schedules! I teach my students their schedule, and I’ve never regretted it!

Typically, we have two schedules during the year. The first is a whole group schedule that I use mostly at the beginning of the year. Then students get individual schedules introduced a few weeks in!

The whole group schedule is what we all follow during the first few weeks. It is for teaching our classroom procedures in a big group. My paras help to support and model things for the students. Some things we plug into the whole group schedule are:

  • Unpacking and Morning Routines
  • Classroom Rules / Expectations
  • Walking in the Hallway
  • Asking to Use the Restroom / Drink
  • Transitioning in the Classroom
  • Eating in the Cafeteria
  • Expected Behavior During a Whole Group Lesson
  • How to Check Your Schedule
  • Our Classroom Management System
  • Expected Behavior in Inclusion or Special Classes
  • Completing Independent Work
  • Practicing Fire Drills/ Evacuations
  • Using Sensory Toys
  • Taking a Break Appropriately
  • Working with Paraprofessionals (In Stations)
  • Working with the Teacher (IEP Data/ Goal Work)

and I am sure you can think of others too!

Additionally, for the first few weeks my students and our whole group schedule looks like this:

teaching job and planning the first weeks of school

If you are interested in the individual daily schedules that I use in my classroom later in the year you can read about those here.

using visual schedules to teach

Teaching Classroom Rules

Next, we teach a lot of the classroom rules at the beginning of the year. We also explicitly teach the classroom rules. Initially, I found this works best by taking each rule and breaking it down. Then create examples of what following the rule looks like and perhaps a few examples of what following the rule does not look like. I will usually ask my paraprofessionals or assistants to act as students and we model for them each classroom rule.

Of course, I also like to use visuals to support my students, and since I struggled to find resources that used visuals I liked for my classroom and my students’ abilities I created one! It has materials to help fill in those first few weeks in your new teaching job!

Check out my Classroom Rules Bundle!

It has posters with real photos for both elementary and secondary classrooms.

classroom rules and teaching job first weeks

The Classroom Rule Bundle has worksheets students can complete in lessons as a class while going over the rules.

It has independent work materials that can be done as a whole group to practice procedures but, also work on those rules at the same time! You can read more about independent work in the classroom here!

Getting Some Routine Lessons in Place

Thirdly, we get started with our normal routine! I start teaching Morning Meeting in my classroom. It’s my favorite whole group lesson to teach and I have found the perfect way to teach it with all the different learners in my classroom.

teaching morning meeting the first weeks of school

We start with the very basics and add things as the year goes on including:

Now again, we start with one of these and build onto it a little more each time students are able to handle it. Moreover, the same goes for if we start having materials for the students to engage with during the lesson while I project it on the smartboard! It’s all about baby steps so we can do it right and keep things running well!

Reviewing those IEPs for Your Teaching Job!

Lastly, this isn’t really something that I do without the students. But I will do this with my paraprofessionals if we have time at the beginning of the year. I will go over the important sections of the IEP that will directly reflect the way we work with students in the classroom. Some of these sections include:

  • Present Levels of Academic and Functional Performance
  • IEP Goals and Objectives
  • Specifically Designed Instruction or Accommodations
  • Related Services
  • Transition Plans (if applicable)

Once we have gone over these I start to plan and think about how data will be collected, how instruction will support those goals, and how behavior plans may affect the structure of our classroom. All of this can change your classroom in ways you may not have expected!

How Do I Do All This Before School Starts?

Lastly, I know what you are thinking. How am I supposed to be prepared to do all of these things when I have never taught in a classroom like this before? Well, I have put together the ultimate life-saver!

special education teach job class setup bundle

Introducing the Special Education Classroom Setup Bundle! It includes 14 resources that I have used in my teaching job to support my students, paraprofessionals, and co-teachers in making our year successful.

Check out some of these images to see some of the items included!

Feel free to check out this resource in my store and save big with the bundle discount and get everything you could possibly need to start the school year with confidence and success!

If you still think that there are things you could use support with feel free to join my email list where I share weekly ideas, tips, and resources to support you all year long!

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