Hi everyone, I’m Grace and I’m currently teaching 4th class. Before this, I was in SEN and sometimes felt overwhelmed with the paperwork requirements, so I’m going to share a few tips I think might be helpful for those starting out in SEN!

Basic organisation: First things first, have a folder dedicated to every child stored in the same place every day in your room – this will make storage a lot easier and quicker as opposed to fumbling around with worksheets. Allow the children themselves to be responsible for the taking out and putting back of their folders, as well as keeping them tidy! Have a well-stocked room in terms of having spare stationery. Of course, this is important in any classroom, but time slots are so limited in support that there’s no time for the children (or teacher!) to procrastinate by going back for a pencil, but if you have the supplies at hand, they’ll soon learn that you’re not going to allow any time to be wasted in that way!

Paperwork: IEPs are often the first thing we think about when in SEN – nowadays they’re commonly referred to as School Support Plans. IEPs/School Support Plans are often overwhelming when you’re expected to make several of them at the start of the school year, especially when you’re new to SEN, you just don’t know where to start. It is not uncommon to be expected to devise an IEP for a child you’ve only taken a few times and don’t really know yet. Often, there are numerous targets you would like the child to meet, but you must limit them to about five targets, keeping them short and realistic. Remember that parents read and sign the IEPs so make sure the targets are simple enough for someone who doesn’t work in education to understand – this is a great opportunity to talk to parents about the things they can do at home to help their child achieve their targets. There are plenty of sample IEPs on my page to give you some ideas. I even have an IEP template on my page with advice and recommendations to guide you through the IEP writing process.

IEP template with recommendations: https://mash.ie/product/iep-template-with-recommendations-examples/

Pack of sample IEPs: https://mash.ie/product/pack-of-sample-ieps/

Non-academic groups: Speaking to other teachers in SEN, I found that this was a common area that teachers struggled with. There’s no set curriculum to follow for areas like social skills like there is for literacy and maths and of course, every child has a different reason for being in a social skills group. Before we get into the “heavier” side to social skills (e.g. emotions/feelings etc.) we need to get to know the children to build a trusting relationship within the group; through board games, general conversation about themselves using simple ‘getting to know you’ games etc.  which are available on my page:

‘Finish the sentence’ cards to help children develop self-awareness and generate talk about emotions/feelings: https://mash.ie/product/sphe-social-skills-finish-the-sentences/

Getting to know you cards with easy to answer questions about themselves: https://mash.ie/product/social-skills-sphe-getting-to-know-you-questions/

I also have a yearly plan for social skills which may be useful in helping with your planning or to just give you ideas on what to do: https://mash.ie/product/social-skills-plans-covering-8-months/

I have also put together the most important things you’ll need for SEN in one huge pack which you may find useful: https://mash.ie/product/sen-pack/

Being in support is rewarding in its own way and the variety in terms of class ranges will keep you on your toes. There is a lot of unfamiliar paperwork and organisation involved with SEN but you learn these things along the way. I honestly believe that being in support will make you a better teacher, heightening your awareness of all the needs in your class when you’re back in the classroom.

Thanks for reading this article and use code SEN20 for 20% off all products on my page!

Grace

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