What Substitute Teachers Need to Know about IEPs

substitute teacher encouraging student
Cross Country Education
November 25, 2020 19:38 PM (GMT-05:00)
As a substitute teacher, there are certain things you should be aware of regarding IEPs. Here’s some information to get you started so you feel more confident and prepared to be the best sub for all of your students.

What is an IEP?

An IEP is an Individualized Education Plan. It is a written statement of the educational program designed to meet a child’s individual needs. Every child who receives special education services has an IEP. Within the IEP are learning accommodations for the student based on their needs. 
Teachers use IEP’s to guide them in accommodating and modifying the design of lessons and instruction in the classroom.
As a substitute teacher, you may or may not have access to IEP information. The teacher may indicate that a particular student may have specific needs or allowances. These could be outlined in their IEP, so it’s important to follow any instructions the classroom teacher leaves regarding any particular student. 
Strategies for Working with Students Who May Have Special Needs
  1. Give instructions both orally and visually so students receive clear directions that they can refer back to if needed.
  2. Monitor student progress and provide positive feedback often. 
  3. Make activities short and concise. Break longer activities into a series of shorter tasks.
  4. Try to provide concrete examples and draw on real life experiences.
  5. Limit distractions and provide a safe learning environment free from environmental triggers such as loud noises, bright lights, and other things that can disrupt a student’s focus.
  6. Set students up for success during transitions: maintain consistent routines, give advance or repeat notice, and provide expectations.
  7. Structure activities so that students can successfully complete them, and acknowledge successes so students stay motivated to continue on to the next task.
  8. Use visual aids such as charts, graphs and pictures.
  9. Help build social skills using peer models by providing opportunities for students to work in pairs or small groups.

Working with Special Education Providers

Whether you are in a classroom as a daily substitute or on a long-term assignment, you may be working with special education providers. These suggestions can help ensure working with these providers goes smoothly.
  • Remember special education providers are in the room to collaborate with you and provide services to students. They have specific tasks they need to complete while in the classroom.
  • As a substitute teacher, you are responsible for what happens in your classroom. Greet anyone who enters the room and introduce yourself to them. If needed, find out the purpose of their visit.
  • When speaking with special education providers about students make sure conversations are respectful, confidential, and out of earshot of all students.
  • Don’t hesitate to ask special education providers if there is something you can do that would be helpful for the student(s).


Resources for Substitute Teachers

Check out our other resources for substitute teachers, including No Lesson Plan? We’ve Got You Covered, and don’t forget to Join Our School Talent Network
Ready to take on your next adventure with Cross Country Education? Find your ideal substitute teaching job now.

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