5 IEP Meeting Considerations

Thursday, February 7, 2019

IEP meetings can be super daunting - for both teachers AND guardians. We as educators spend so much time crafting effective (seeming) IEPs with our students best interests at heart - but the meetings don't always go as smoothly as we'd like. Here's 5 considerations when planning for these important and often stressful meetings.

1.) Plan with the family 
Family members (guardians, parents, etc) are an integral part of the IEP process, they even have a spot in the IEP for "guardian concerns". I feel a common mistake is using that box DURING the meeting - it can be really overwhelming for a family member to be asked in the middle of a meeting where an already written IEP is being presented, "Any concerns?"

Some school districts allow teachers to send home drafts of an IEP, while some do not. Either way - get family involved!! Two ways I have done this are hosting an unofficial pre-meeting. During this short meeting, it's guardian focused. I gave them the opportunity to share barriers their see at home, and anything they'd like to see their child completing. This allowed me to ask follow-up questions and the guardians knew that I was taking their considerations seriously and making them an integral part of the team. Another idea is sending home a simple (KEYWORD: SIMPLE!!!) questionnaire asking what their child's biggest barriers are at home and any tasks they'd like to see their child completing - essentially, any questions I would ask in that unofficial pre-meeting.

Listening to home concerns, implementing that into the IEP, and during the meeting pointing out where you addressed that concern is a HUGE way to create a fluid sense of communication, build trust, and ultimately ensure carryover is an important way that we can support our students holistically in our IEP writing.

Why Co-Regulation is SO IMPORTANT

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Self-regulation is such a buzz word lately, but what about CO-regulation? Arguably, it's the first step to actually teaching self-regulation. If you haven't been co-regulating with your students and you're finding that they struggle to employ self-regulation strategies, this might be the missing piece!

So what's self regulation?

Self-regulation is the "conscious control of  thoughts, feelings, and behaviors" (McClellan and Tominey, 2014). I mean, that's a LOT to ask of kids, especially those who have experienced childhood trauma which has disrupted their brain pathways, and/or have diagnosed disabilities. As an adult who did not experience childhood trauma and is neurotypical, I struggle with self-regulation. It's important to remember that it's a skill we're constantly developing, and that it's tricky.

So when we hope children will begin to self-regulate, we often want them to independently ask for a break where they'll start using appropriate coping skills like deep breathing, stretches, coloring, or journaling. We teach them when they're at their baseline, they can exhibit the skills when they're calm, but when things get real, they often can't reach for the skills they've been practicing, and they continue to escalate. What now?!

5 Essential Oils for Teachers

Monday, December 17, 2018

Essential oils are all the rage these days, and teachers - more than ever before - are using them in their classrooms and in their everyday lives. What's the deal?! Since not every classroom and school has the ability to diffuse oils in their classroom environments, I compiled a list of the 5 essential oils and oil blends that are perfect for every teacher. The oils I'll be referring to are all from Young Living Essential Oils.

A Wellness Roller
I think the one commonality among teachers is...germs. Yep. They're everywhere. A roller (you can buy some great rollers off Amazon here) with essential oils that promote a healthy immune system is a tried and true way to boost your health and wellness to fight off the inevitable kid germs! 
This is the blend I like to use;
I roll this on the bottoms of my feet and on my spine every night before bed. Sickness, be gone!

5 Gifts Under $10 for Paraprofessionals

Thursday, December 13, 2018
Paraprofessionals are the MVPs of our programming, but sometimes giving them gifts can break the bank during the holiday season! Here are 5 suggestions for gifts that are under $10 so you can still show them how much they're appreciated. 

Celavi Essence Facial Face Mask Paper Sheet Korea Skin Care Moisturizing 9 Pack (Mix of 9)

What screams "self care" more than a face mask?! These face masks have great ratings on Amazon, and the set comes with 9 face masks for only $10.99! You can split them up into gift baskets for your favorite paras!

3 Time Management Hacks for Special Educators THAT WORK

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Our time is so precious and there's simply never enough of it! So, how do we get a hold of it?

1.) Determine where your time is being spent.
Have you ever read the book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People? While I am personally not one to consistently dive into the "self-help" genre, this book is essential for anyone and everyone. Stephen Covey lays out some really important habits that those who are truly effective embody. One of my greatest takeaways was his Time Management Grid. 
What in your day fits into each of the 4 quadrants? Where are you spending the bulk of your time? I created a grid for special educators to show the generic overall events and expectations in our field, and where they might fit into the time management grid. 

All About the Emotional Disability Category

Monday, November 19, 2018

Disability categories ebb and flow and change regularly. At one time, we called students as Emotionally Disturbed, or having a Behavior Disorder, and nowadays we refer to this label as Emotional Disability or having an Emotional Behavior Disorder. Some people may refer to this as a student having ED or an EBD. Does it really matter what words we use? Yes, it does. Language matters. There is always a reason why language changes when referring to populations of people, and there is a specific reason why this language changed. There is no longer a defined difference in having an emotional disability or a behavior disorder, it is now considered one in the same. 

How does a student get identified as having an emotional disability?
According to IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act), a child must exhibit at least one of the following to a marked degree and it must adversely affect their educational performance:
  • struggles with learning and it cannot be explained by intellectual, sensory or health factors
  • struggles to build and/or maintain meaningful interpersonal relationships with peers and teachers
  • given normal or typical circumstances, the child exhibits unmatched behavior or feelings
  • a general pervasive mood of unhappiness or depression
  • a tendency to develop physical symptoms and/or fears associated with personal or school problems

5 Ways to Teach Size of the Problem

Friday, November 9, 2018

Making mountains out of molehills can be some of our biggest battles as teachers in behavior focused special education settings. Situations as small as a student getting the wrong pencil can start an enormous battle when we are working alongside children with limited coping and problem solving skills. Teaching students to determine and accept the size of the situations they face is a crucial step in the process of problem solving on a daily (hourly!) basis. Here are 5 steps (and a few tried-and-true support products!) to help you figure out how to best tackle this essential skill!

5.) Focused Practice
Students need ample time to practice this skill in non-crisis situations. As we know, teaching skills during the apex of crisis is essentially a lost cause, and these skills should be focused on when students are at their baseline. I love scenario based practice using frequently experienced situations as a guide. Having your students problem solve through common situations when they're ready to learn is an important way to build their skills so they can see clearer when they face those uncomfortable situations in the future. 

I created a set of 100 scenarios that I used every day during our morning meeting time. I projected these and together, as a group, we talked them out. This allowed students to role-play, problem solve, and think through situations that they faced all of the time! I wrote these scenarios with my students in our therapeutic behavior setting in mind. You can grab them here!
Size of the Problem - 100 Digital Scenarios
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