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A Clean Slate: Starting Over Fresh in the New Year

Special Ed Resource Room

A Clean Slate: Starting Over Fresh in the New YearA New Year - A New Classroom

The start of a new year always feels like a chance to try new things and maybe even “start over” with our students.   This is the perfect opportunity to reflect on what is and what isn’t working within your classroom. Taking the time to identify these things and then brainstorming ideas on how to keep the good going and reconfigure the bad will help make your classroom run smoother and will help you to be a more effective teacher.

Start by making a list.  I like to involve the paraprofessionals that work with my students since they often have fantastic insight on what is and isn’t effective.   After your list is made identify the top 5 items that you would like to focus on.  You may want to make these into goals; sort of a New Year’s Resolution for your classroom.  Then brainstorm and research ways to achieve your goals.  I like to go to teacher blogs, Pintrest, and other networking places where I can talk with other teachers and find out what works for them. Finally, start working on achieving those goals. 

I thought I would share my list with you and a goal planning sheet to help you map out your own goals. 

1.     Organize theme materials
This has been something that I have wanted to accomplish, as I feel like I keep remaking the same materials.  I plan on organizing my themes by binders ( We all know I love binders!) and also using some type of bag or expanding file folder tote to store the stuff that will not fit in the binder.  I found these 7-pocket accordion file  binders that come in all kinds of colors.  I think these may be a great way to organize my materials!

2. Re-evaluate Student goals:
As special education teachers we are constantly re-evaluation our students and making sure we are meeting their needs.  I have not been satisfied with some of the ways I have written my goals in the past and want to make some of them more clear as to what is expected of the student.  To help me identify this I am going to use an IEP goal planning sheet that will include all necessary goal information. 

3. Plan additional embedded instruction: 
Embedding instruction into all parts of your day is especially important for students with special needs.  Every moment of the day is a learning opportunity.  “Embedded instruction is an approach used to promote child engagement, learning, and independence in everyday activities, routines, and transitions. This is accomplished by identifying times and activities when instructional procedures designed for teaching a child's priority learning targets are implemented in the context of ongoing [naturally-occurring] activities, routines, and transitions in the classroom.” (  I would like to use a planning matrix for each of my students to ensure that I am teaching to every possible moment.   You can find an example of a matrix  and other information about embedded instruction at this website :

Here are more links with information on to set goals to “re-start” your year with your students.



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