Special Education Teacher

I was a special education teacher for Kindergarten-2nd grade at Lyon Elementary School in Glenview, Illinois.  I provided 1:1 and small group instruction to provide academic review/reinforcement as well as work on IEP goals.  I also pushed into the classroom to co-teach and support executive functioning.  I modified the regular curriculum, used reinforcement curriculums, and created my own resources.  I frequently collaborated with classroom teachers, paraprofessionals, and therapists to discuss student progress, plan lessons, and create visuals, schedules, or resources that supported student needs in and out of the classroom.  I received training on Lucy Calkins Readers and Writers workshop, using Discrete Trials, co-teaching, and Teacher-Child Interaction Training – Universal (TCIT).

I was a special education teacher for 5th-8th graders at Giant Steps in Lisle, Illinois; this was a therapeutic school and all students had Autism.  I provided academic instruction in math, reading, writing, social studies, and science; I often created my own curricular activities to make academics appropriate and accessible to the students’ abilitiy levels.  I also provided individualized instruction to support IEP goals; each student had a program book and time daily dedicated to working on their goals.  I also supported electives led by therapists.  I oversaw 3-5 paraprofessionals in my classroom; they provided 1:1 or small group support for the students, and it was my responsibility to train them on student goals, activities, and behavioral supports.  I regularly met with and collaborated with the therapists who provided support in and outside the classroom for students to create visuals, behavior plans, and ensure we were consistently using the same strategies.

I was a special education teacher for Kindergarten-2nd grade at CICS Irving Park in Chicago, Illinois.  I pushed into the classrooms as often as possible to teach small groups and provide extra assistance.  I had 14 students on my caseload, but worked with all students in the classroom.  I taught both  the regular curriculum and implemented resources I created.  I collaborated with the classroom teachers frequently to discuss student progress and determine student groupings and curriculum I would teach.  I taught the Really Great Reading curriculum to small groups in all three grade levels to work on phonic skills.  In math, I taught the general curriculum, focused on student IEP goals, and created supplemental activities to review or introduce other strands on the NWEA continuum.

Additionally, I progress monitored my students and updated their IEP report cards each quarter.  I wrote each of their IEPs prior to their annual or initial meeting; I have completed initial, annual, and re-evaluation meetings.  I collaborated with the support team to check in on their progress and make sure we were implementing similar strategies in the classroom.  I designed various behavior systems that were reevaluated and revised throughout the year.  I used social stories, visual cues, and reminders in the classroom.  Most importantly, I developed relationships with not only the students on my caseload, but many students in all the  classrooms I pushed in to to help them all learn and grow. 

Below are examples of strategies and responsibilities I have used as a special education teacher:

Strategies When Working with Students

  • Created checklists, visual schedules, social stories, and cool down breaks as needed
  • Used First, Then language often. Students were motivated to work for breaks
  • Implemented different behavior systems that changed throughout the year-Class Dojo, tokens, star charts to earn breaks, Check In/Check Out schedules
  • Played music or worked outside the classroom in a quiet spot depending on how the student worked best
  • Provided lots of positive reinforcement and encouragement


  • Collaborated with K-2 teachers, paraprofessionals, SPED team, psychologist, speech pathologist, social worker, occupational therapist, and physical therapist
  • Wrote IEPs, progress monitor students’ goals, participate in annual meetings
  • Proctored NWEA tests 3 times per year for students’ with testing modifications; administered CBM testing for benchmarks and progress monitoring
  • Completed weekly collaboration logs, monthly consultation logs, quarterly IEP progress reports
  • Participated in Parent-Teacher conferences twice during the year
  • Built relationships with the students-got to know them working in small groups and 1:1, learned about their home life, their interests and found behavior systems/rewards to try to motivate them
  • Attended weekly school-wide professional development meetings and weekly SPED team meetings
  • Trained and supervised paraprofessionals
  • Coached Girls on the Run team