I am currently teaching a practicum for teachers who are getting their Master’s degree in Special Ed. We were discussing yesterday in our meeting about some habits for teachers and decided that I would make a list of excellent habits for an effective Special Ed teacher. I’m afraid that there are some misconceptions that new teachers have about what makes a great (or effective teacher). So, here is the list that isn’t in any order of importance:
1. Get a good night’s sleep – If you are up all night grading papers, then you need to look at your time management behaviors. Staying up all night doesn’t make you more effective; it just makes you more tired.
2. Eat lunch – Skipping lunch to do more work doesn’t make you more effective. It just makes you hungry, cranky, and not as mentally alert as you need to be.
3. Ask for help – It is better to ask for help when you need it than worrying that it makes you look incompetent. But, if someone helps you with a task that you may be required to do more than once, I recommend taking notes so you don’t have to keep asking for help about the same thing. This makes you look incompetent.
4. Start your day off by planning on it being a great day! – Your mental attitude will help you get through whatever curves that life throws you.
5. Stay ahead of your paperwork – If something needs to be done, get it done that day and don’t put it off. Paperwork seems to multiply on its own if you let it simmer. Then it becomes overwhelming.
6. Organize right from the start – Don’t pile things up with the plan that you will organize later. Think about your system and begin immediately. This will help you when you need to find something required immediately. But this isn’t written in stone and you can always tweak your system as you need it along the way.
7. Behavior Plan – Have a behavior plan right from the start. Don’t create one when you suddenly think you need it because that is like closing the barn door after the horse is out.
8. Be tough – It is easier to start out tough and ease up than go the other way.
9. Be fair – Make sure that you are treating everyone with the same standards. You can give accommodations and modifications but your values should not change.
10. Be prepared – Run off papers early in case the copy machine breaks down.
11. Emergency Lesson Plans – Have a set of lessons in case you suddenly can’t make it to school. You never know when you might be sick or have a family emergency so it is easier to have them already completed.
12. Be flexible – In over 30 years of teaching, no day was alike. What may have worked on one day may not work the next. It is important to fill your “toolbox” with different tools to use for different situations on different days. The more tools you have, the more options you will have.
13. Develop a support system – It might be close friends or family members but you need someone you can share your worries, doubts, and successes with. This support will boost you when you feel down and celebrate with you when you feel great!
14. Drink plenty of water – stay hydrated which will give you energy and keep you healthy.
15. Take a multivitamin – Let’s face it, you aren’t going to eat right, no matter how you try.
What habits would you add to the list? Please share.
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