What supports can school leaders provide to develop effective and committed special education teachers?

Page 6: Relevant Work Orientation

man in class

School leaders can ease new teachers’ nervousness and help prepare them for their first exciting weeks in school by offering a relevant work orientation. Orientation is an opportunity for new teachers to establish relationships with key support personnel (e.g., district supervisors, mentors, instructional coaches). Ideally, orientation takes place prior to the beginning of the school year. During this several-day meeting, new teachers gather essential information for starting their teaching career. Some information is important for all teachers, whereas other information is specific to special education practice.

All Teachers
  • District and school guidelines, policies, and procedures
  • Expectations about teaching
  • Curriculum and assessments
  • Parent communication
  • Lesson plans
  • Classroom set-up
  • Tips for the first weeks of school
Special Education Teachers
  • IEP procedures
  • Behavior plans
  • Transition plans
  • Caseload management
  • Alternate assessments
  • Collaboration with general educators

When they create an agenda for orientation, school leaders should think about what is necessary for new teachers during their first month in the classroom. Cramming too much content into a short period of time can overwhelm new teachers and create confusion. School leaders should keep in mind that orientation is only the beginning for relaying information. They should continue to provide relevant information throughout the school year.

Margaret Kamman
Margaret Kamman, PhD
Project Coordinator, CEEDAR and NCIPP
University of Florida

Margaret Kamman reiterates the importance of a relevant work orientation (time: 0:41).

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Again, consider Jamal and think about what information is crucial to help him be successful in his new position. If you were designing Jamal’s orientation, what information would you be sure to include? Explain why you would include this information. (Remember, you don’t want to overwhelm Jamal.)

An orientation is designed to provide Jamal with an overview of key information that he needs to know as he gets started in the year and to identify key resources and contacts. A key aspect of orientation is providing resources, such as district manuals, Websites, and purchased resources, including new teacher handbooks. Jamal will also benefit from knowing who to contact for additional information, so a chart of district and school contacts for specific areas of assistance (e.g., how to order materials) would be especially helpful. Leaders should emphasize specific areas that need attention early in the year. Because Jamal is teaching students with emotional and behavioral challenges, he should be introduced early to the district behavioral specialist. Ideally, Jamal’s orientation will begin to address instructional expectations for students at the middle grades, curriculum resources, assessment requirements, and specific ideas for having a good first month in the classroom.

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