This is normal: The ramblings of a first year special ed teacher

Friday, September 5, 2014
First off, I need to apologize for not blogging since MAY! It's been a crazy couple of months. I moved TWICE since my last post and managed to start and end one job as a children's director at a Christian camp and begin a new one as a special education teacher. I am currently teaching 10 amazing, sassy, stubborn, and unpredictable 3-5th graders and LOVING it. I have an amazing support system at my school and have been learning so much from my principal, my psychologist, my instructional aides, and from the service providers. With that said, I am exhausted. I'm actually writing this blog post because I am killing time before I can go to sleep (I just won't allow myself to go to sleep before 9pm for some reason). I spend countless hours in my classroom. From what I have heard THIS IS NORMAL for a first year teacher-general ed or special ed. I had no clue the work that goes into being a teacher...the planning, the organizing, the meetings, the phone calls from parents, the notes to write and send home, the IEPs! The list goes on. It's sometimes hard already to remember that the whole reason I am doing all of this is for the 10 precious students that I get to teach each day. It truly is a JOY and a HONOR to be their teacher.

Okay enough mushy, emotional stuff and on to the goodies! After 3 weeks of teaching (wow, that went by FAST), I have found some awesome resources and products that I believe to be essential for any moderate to severe special ed teacher just starting off (or even for you seasoned teachers out there). I will be sharing one each week over the next seven weeks! Ready? Okay here I go!

NUMBER ONE!  Task Boxes & File Folders.

Currently, task boxes are one of my rotations i have an aide who works with the students and is reaching them how to do the task boxes. Eventually, my goal is for my students to be able to do them independently. 

Here is how I have my "Picture Perfect Independent Workers" Blue Table set up. They have a list of task boxes that they have to finish during their time at the blue table. Once they finish, they get to have their picture taken with a variety of props and "glam." The pictures then go up on the board. I got my organizational idea from Melissa Toth Finch. You can check out her blog all about the system here. I tweaked mine a bit to fit my students and their needs.

 I have made several of my own work boxes. Here are some of the ones my kiddos are currently working through. 

1. Sorting and identifying colors

2. Identifying letters, matching letters, and building words

3. One to One Correspondence/Counting 

I got this product from Teaching Special Thinkers on TPT. You can purchase the product here. It is jammed packed with awesome tools that can be used for task boxes, small group instruction, or independent work. 

4. Sorting by Category

The students are given a few different cards and pictures and have to sort the pictures by category. You can pick this product up for FREE right here

5. I got a TON of ideas from Sasha at the Autism Helper. She has a whole work task product that you can purchase here. It is a HUGE time saver and totally worth the 10 bucks!

Well, it's almost 9, which means I can get some sleep! Happy blogging and pinteresting you wonderful, dedicated teachers! 


  1. I like your task box ideas. I'm especially interested in this one: Identifying letters, matching letters, and building words. Did you make your own word cards or find them somewhere? Thanks!

    1. Yes, I made them! I only have four words in there right now, but will be adding more as we review more words as a class. We are going through the Edmark level 1 words. I got the visuals from a program that my district has purchased for us SPED teachers. It's called Unique Learning Systems.


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