Some of the ideas are probably no-brainers, and some may seem way too complicated; but if you are able to take the time to complete at least one these ideas it will help your school year start on a more positive note.
Back to school time is busy for everyone; administrations, teachers, custodial staff, parents, and students. There are some things that you can do to help ease the transition from summer break to school year. Even though many students will get the hang of things after a weeks, the first few days of school can be ver difficult. Some students, will struggle beyond those first few weeks, but there are things that teachers can do before school even begins.
- Send your students a note/letter from you. (If you don't know who will be in your class yet, send out a letter from all the teachers in your department.) Everyone enjoys receiving mail, kids especially. This simple gesture can make a positive difference for the special needs student.
- Send a note/letter to your students' parents. (Again, if you don't have your class list, see if the other teachers in your department/grade level want to send out a letter together.) This letter is less personal than the one sent to students, but tells parents a little about you, what you hope to accomplish during the school year, and how excited you are to have their student in your class.
- Familiarize yourself with your students' IEPs. It is important to refresh your memory on each of your student's needs, present level, accommodations, and goals. This gives you the opportunity to see who needs a re-evaluation and begin scheduling (in pencil) IEP meetings and re-evals. Also, if parents or classroom teachers come to you with questions or concerns, you'll be more familiar with what the IEP says.
- Hand out bookmarks during the first week of school. No matter what you teach, encouraging students to read is never a waste of time. Making personalized bookmarks may seem like a tedious job, but it doesn't have to be one. And seeing a student's face light up when they realize you know his/her name definitely makes it worth it. Using card stock, Microsoft Word, and a paper cutter or scissors this project really is quite simple. Your can just put the student's name on the bookmark, or put their name and the meaning of their name, or their name is English and another language. If you have a theme for the school year, you could write that with students' names also.
- Have a "Meet the Teacher" night. Some schools do this before the school year officially begins. If your school does not have a "Meet the Teacher" night, see if you can set one up for your students. Maybe the other teachers in the special education department would be interested as well. This gives the chance for your students to meet you and see where the class is and what it looks like. This can take away some of the anxiety special needs students often have at the beginning of the school year. If "Meet the Teacher" night is not possible, you can schedule a time (when you're not in meetings) for parents and students to come up during the day to meet you and see the classroom.
- Send out an "All About Me" worksheet. Send out the worksheet about a week before the first day of school that student (and families if necessary) can fill out and bring in on the first day. It's a fun activity that students can share about on the first day.