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Saturday, July 25, 2015

SPED Summer Bloghop: Week 5 {First Week of School}

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It's time for week five of the SPED Summer Bloghop! This week we're discussing the first week of school. 

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The first week of school is always a whirlwind for me. It's such a busy week of getting to know students, figuring out what they know, and getting all of the beginning of the year paperwork out of the way. 

In an inclusion/resource setting, there's a lot to do in the first week. I spend most of  of that time really getting to know my students, especially if I've never worked with them before. 

Because schedules can change and I want my students to get to know their classmates, general ed teachers, and rules and procedures, I spend the first day or two in the general ed classroom. This allows me to get familiar with my students and see what they know without taking them away from the important beginning of the year activities. 

When students do start coming into my classroom, I like do some get to know you activities and some pre-assessments. For me to plan my instruction, I really have to know where my students are, especially since most of  my instruction isn't on grade level. 

I'm using the Reading Mastery program this year with my older students, which has a built in pre-assessment. For my younger students, I do a sight word assessments and a comprehension passage to see what they know. I also use beginning of the year mClass/DIBELS once the general education teachers have the data. As a resource/inclusion teacher, it is so important to talk to the general ed teacher and get as much info and data from them as possible. 

I have my students fill out a beginning of the year "All About Me" sheet on the first day. This is a helpful way to find out some basic information about my students. Also, the time that they are answering the questions is a great time to strike up a conversation with your kids. It's a low pressure time to really get to know them. 

*Also, you can use the favorites that they share on the sheet to find ways to engage them on activities. For example, if a student really likes horses, create activities that include horses. They will be interested in the activity and be practicing the standards at the same time!* 

You can download the "All About Me" sheet that I use here
All About Me Handout {FREEBIE}

It's actually a part of my full Back to School Icebreaker Pack that you can find here
First Week of School: Icebreakers & Get to Know You Activities

Tips for the First Week of School: 
1. Overplan. If you don't know your students, you don't know how fast they will complete activities. It could be twice as fast as you plan for, and you don't want to be left with free time. 

2. Get to know your students. People really aren't exaggerating when they say that building relationships with your students is a key factor to success during the school year. Without those relationships, the school year can become so much more difficult. Take time to ask your students about themselves, tell them things about you, and show them that you care about them. It really will make a world of difference. 

3. Get as much data as you can on your students. When you know where they are academically, you can use that to help you plan upcoming lessons and activities.  It also informs you on where they are in regards to IEP goal progress. Don't overwhelm them with pre-assessments though. Try to assess their skills in more fun and engaging ways. 

4. Try not to get overwhelmed. The first week of school is crazy. Don't beat yourself up if you don't fit something in or  you feel like you could have done better. Reflect on what happened and try to do better next time. No teacher is perfect but as long as you're reflecting and always trying to get better, you're doing an awesome job! 

Visit Julie at Superheroes in SPED to see what she does in the first week of school!

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