It’s estimated that SPED (special education) teachers spend more than ten percent of their time every week on paper work. IEPs can take two to three hours to write, there are parent notices to be prepared and mailed, and endless forms need to be filled out and filed. No wonder then that the mountains of paperwork combined with a teaching job that’s frequently stressful leads to an annual 13 percent attrition rate.
“I would say it’s very challenging to be a great teacher and a great paper-pusher all at the same time,” says Doug, a SPED teacher at a central Ohio high school. “I feel as though I am constantly ignoring one or the other.”
There are several things a teacher can do to lighten the load:
- Organization is key
Find a system that works for you. Create a binder or folder for each student with sections for IEPs, parent communications, assessments, and daily data logs. That way everything is together and eliminates sorting through files for the information you need on each student.
- Keep current with paperwork
Commit yourself to doing a certain amount of paperwork everyday to avoid getting behind and creating piles of papers on your desk. The more you do at school in the few minutes you have here and there means less paperwork to do at home. For the endless paperwork that comes your way, educational consultant Julia Thompson, writing for Teaching.com, says there are three ways to deal with every piece of paper: act on it, file it, or throw it away.
- Use technologyObviously word processing programs make it so much easier to create and print parent letters, forms and IEPs. Templates for many of these items are available with a simple Google search. Thompson also recommends using a basic spreadsheet program to track accommodations for students as well as enter daily data required for documentation.
Additionally, several apps have been developed to help SPED teachers manage paperwork. These apps include:
- Schedule My IEP app
- Rethink Behavior Tracking
- Special Education Edition: eCOVE Obeservation Software
- Nulite Behavior Tracker for Special Education
- Caseload Tracker
- IEP Goals & Objectives with Common Core State Standards
There are also enterprise content management (ECM) programs available for entire school systems that streamline all paperwork, including that for special education. These programs include:
- Same Goal (formerly IEP Anywhere) Program
- Lexmark IEP Processing Solution
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