Systems for Special Educators (With a Free Download for You, Too!)

Jan 30, 2015

It’s no secret to me that special educators have a whole additional set of challenges when it comes to Togetherness – more paperwork, more moving between different classrooms or even different schools, more meetings, and more data – all the while wanting to do right by the kids who need us most.

I recently spoke to Kristin B., a learning specialist for fifth graders in Nashville, who’s created some nifty tools to better serve her students– and make her life easier. Here are her top three systems to battle common administrative challenges for special educators – including a new template to download!

1. No More “Surprise” IEP Meetings! 

Kristin manages this by preparing one copy of this IEP Meeting Organizer for each of her students, and putting it in the binder that contains her student data. She then loads all of her key dates right into her Comprehensive Calendar, so she has a one-stop-shop for all of her IEP meeting planning.

Her next innovation on this form is going to be to add in a place for phone numbers. We love it!

Kristin was kind enough to let us build a sample IEP Meeting Organizer from her model and place it for free-download here!

2. No More Massive Paper Pile-Ups! 

I know you all have files for each of your students, but let’s make it even easier to find what we need and hold on to the required documentation. While the state of Tennessee requires what needs to be in an IEP file, Kristin realizes how large and unwieldy that file can become. Her answer? She makes dividers for each section of each student’s file based on the state’s checklist. Below is a snapshot of her dividers.

  • Section 1: Current Annual IEP
  • Section 2: Previous Annual IEP
  • Section 3: Current Evaluation and Availability
  • Section 4: Previous Evaluation and Availability
  • Section 5: Pre-Vocational Section

Kristen describes the benefit:

I’m never panicked when a state auditor or district person comes to check files because I know they were done right the first time. I don’t have to waste any time re-checking the file.

3. No More Messy Data! 

And if you’re not already jumping with delight at all of these goodies, let’s look at one last system in Kristin’s classroom: her instructional binder. This is where she keeps all of the documentation and data she needs as she works directly with students and teachers. With her binder in place, Kristin doesn’t need to scramble to find needed evidence for a parent-teacher conference and creating quarterly progress reports; it’s all right there. The sections of her binder are as follows:

  • Progress Monitoring
  • Documentation
  • IEP at a Glance

Kristin acknowledges that a lot of these systems took an upfront time investment, but she says the pay-off is both in her kids making great progress—and her own head feeling like it is kept on straight!

Together Discussion Question: Special Educators, let your voices be heard! Do YOU have any great systems or templates? Are you in need of anything in particular?