Tips for Restructuring a Special Education Program

2019-2020 was a year of many firsts for me.  It was my first year in middle school, my first year sharing students with a co-teacher, first year only teaching 2 content areas, first year back in an alternative curriculum program, and so many more.  I was given a unique opportunity in that both my partner teacher and I were new to the program.  We had the opportunity to build our program from the ground up eliminating all sense of “it’s always been done this way”.  I wanted to share with you 5 tips that I have learned from going through this process.


Be Open

Be open and receptive to the ideas of those who you are working with.  Co-teachers and paras both will have something to contribute.  Forming a relationship with the people you work with will be key to your program’s success and the best way to do that is to make sure that you are listening to everyone envolved.


Remember Best Practices

Remember to stick to best practices.  Don’t try to do something different than what you know already works.  Once you get the program up and running, then you can take the time to experiment with changes.  Stick to what you know is evidenced based. But also remember, it’s okay to admit when something isn’t working and needs to be changed.  Not every idea you have will work out and when that happens, you need to be willing to let it go.


One Day at a Time

Take it one day and one step at a time.  Make changes slowly, especially if some of your staff have been working in the program for years.  They may be resistant at first, and that is totally normal.  Human beings are typically resistant to change.  The best way to help this process is to explain the why and make it relevant to them.  If they understand these two things, it will help.


Admin are Your Friend

If you want something for your program, ask your admin!  Every time I have approached my administration with a proposal, they’ve been willing to go along with it and approve it, because I had planned through the process and provided a rationale as to the why and how.


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