I Have a Caseload, Now What?
Is this going to be your first year as a special education teacher with a caseload? Maybe you recently finished your accrediting program (congratulations!), or you are working on a variance switching from the role of a paraprofessional to a special education teacher, or working with some other limited license.
Regardless of what your level of training and expertise is, as the fall approaches, this can be an exciting and stressful time. This is what you have been working toward! You know you will be able to develop and master skills over time, but you realize that student needs are going to be present starting on day one. You cannot wait to start working with students but are not sure how to prepare yourself. Here are three tips for starting the year with your new caseload. (Don’t miss the free resource at the end of this blog post!)
1. Make sure you have the most recent Individualized Education Program (IEP) and Evaluation Report for each of the students on your caseload.
For each of your students, you will need to have the most recent IEP and evaluation report. These documents will provide you with information about each student’s disability, educational needs, and their programming. If the student is transferring from another school, you may need to request their records if this has not already been done for you.
2. Review the IEPs with your tasks in mind.
Reading through each IEP can be overwhelming, especially if you are not sure what to do with the information. Approaching the IEPs with the tasks you need to complete in mind, such as building your or paraprofessional schedules, ordering necessary resources and materials, selecting curriculum, planning lessons, and setting up your progress monitoring plans, etc. For example, looking through the service minutes of students likely means more when you are using the direct service minutes to inform your teaching schedule than reading through it to get familiar with the IEPs.
3. Communicate and collaborate with others.
Communicating and collaborating with others is critical to setting yourself and your students up for success. Although as a case manager you will have a role in implementing the programming outlined in the IEPs for students on your caseload, there are others who will have a role as well. For instance, general education teachers may need to implement accommodations and modifications, paraprofessionals may need to work with the student, related service providers may have time with the student, and so on. Make sure that everyone knows what their role is so that implementing the IEP is a team effort. Communicating also includes asking questions and seeking support when needed.
Starting the year off with a solid understanding of student needs and a plan to fulfill your responsibilities helps ensure an equitable education for the students on your caseload and helps reduce your stress. Creatively Focused is able to support you with this endeavor. Through axis3, you can learn more tips about setting yourself up for success in managing your caseload and learning more about components of the IEP. axis3 can support you with resources, mini-modules, and self-paced courses. For a sneak peek at what axis3 has to offer, check out this free resource: Building Schedules for Special Education Paraprofessionals.
Written by Kalin Schoephoerster, Instructional Designer