8 Prep Hacks For Special Education Teachers To Save Time

30th January 2024

As special education teachers you have to cater to every individual's needs and create a personalized and tailored plan. However, keeping your students in mind while preparing your lesson materials can be a little tricky. Apart from understanding their needs and wants, you also need to meet the learning objectives that make things a little difficult.

It can take a lot of time to prepare interactive books, practical exercises, and visual aids for special education students! To get everything ready, a lot of resources and time are needed. If you are struggling to complete everything on time, here are some prep tips for your special education classes.

Time Saving Sped Prep Hacks For Special Education Classes

Here are 9 tips to help you alleviate stress and streamline your prep time while prioritizing your to-do list:

  1. Create A List And Prioritize

    There are always some prep tasks on our to-do lists. Prioritize your needs and make intelligent choices about the order. Preparing and printing in smaller quantities simplifies the process and maintains organization.

    As you go, add to your ‘SPED toolbox’ little by little. Make sure your prep to-do list includes priorities for volunteers and classroom staff as well. You can make sure you have everything you need to prepare yourself and your students for success by methodically prioritizing your prep supplies!

  2. Have Your Velcro Systems And Rules In Place

    An essential component of sped prep is Velcro. To save time the next time you need to replace a piece of Velcro that went missing or prepare a new material, create a rule regarding Velcro. Have a rule that says soft Velcro moves and hard/rough Velcro stays in place. By following this rule, all paraprofessionals, therapists, etc., are aware that all movable parts have soft or loop Velcro attached to them.

    When cutting Velcro, scissors become sticky, so avoid cutting or preparing other materials with them near them. Have extra Velcro dots and pieces in a little pencil box for last-minute preparation, along with our Velcro scissors. These systems can be a lifesaver.

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  3. Batch In Your Prepping Materials

    When attempting to complete all of your speed prep, batching is essential. We constantly engage in it in our daily lives. One instance of batching is grocery shopping. The majority of people shop at the grocery store for food for the next week. It is known as batching.

    Performing this task once a week is more efficient than doing it each time you need to prepare food. To batch prep materials, just complete a single prep step or task at a time. If you try to do one task at a time, it will take longer thereby cutting short your 'Me' time.

  4. Use The Binding Machine

    Although comb bindings aren't the best option, if that's all you have and your students are tearing them apart, you can use duct tape to hold the combs in place if you place them on the outside of the spine.

    Binder clips are useful for binding spiral books. They keep the holes from moving when you manually insert coils through the pages. If you run out of book binding rings, use zip ties instead. Students who enjoy disassembling books will also find this hack to be very helpful.

  5. Organize Your Materials

    Before making any purchases directly from your wallet, find out what your school's budget will allow. Ask your school leader or senior teacher to make a list of the necessities, like binding coils, Velcro, and hard-laminating pouches.

    It's time to arrange your supplies after you've bought them. You can use something large like a milk crate or tub to store all your supplies. Additionally, you can have a special trash can nearby so that leftovers don't accumulate on the floor. Being portable is essential. Who doesn't enjoy creating task boxes in advance of the sessions?

  6. Be Prepared For Last-minute Issues

    The drawback of including so many images and components in your programs is that they occasionally disappear or are destroyed. Always, always make a second copy of the worksheet, social story, or visual aids. It will help you cut down on downtime and save your butt.

    This line of work is full of stressors. If you don't finish everything on your to-do list, don't be hard on yourself. Don’t always go for perfection rather track your progress and celebrate your achievements. Recognize when to give in, step away from the laminator, and relax with a warm bubble bath.

  7. Laminating Hacks

    There are numerous small components, including task boxes, hands-on centers, and interactive books. When we laminate those pieces, they are prone to shifting. To fix this, apply a tiny bit of glue to the back of the piece so that it adheres to the laminating pouch and doesn't move as it passes through the laminator.

    Using two laminators at once will cut your laminating time in half! In the unlikely event that one breaks on you too, you will then have a backup. Consider using clear contact paper or packing tape as a quick substitute for laminating! For sharp lamination, use a corner punch. This tip works especially well for 5 mil lamination, as those edges can be very sharp and pointy. Turn the corners and edges uniformly with a corner punch.

  8. Ask For Help

    It is okay to admit that sometimes things get too overwhelming and that you cannot do everything alone. There are times when you have to let that go and ask for help. There's no guilt in admitting that you can't do everything.

    During planning time, throw a prep party for your paraprofessionals. Find out if your parent, sibling, or partner would be willing to cut some laminate in exchange for a coffee date. Parent volunteers are even available in many schools and are eager to assist!

Prep Seamlessly, Save Time Flawlessly

We all know special education prep times are hard as you have to keep a lot of materials available and create a lot of resources for your students to fulfill their learning goals. However, you do not always have to be so hard on yourself and can save yourself a little bit of time with these hacks. Furthermore, you can also enroll yourself in a SEN live online workshop to learn more about this field and find out some amazing techniques and methodologies.

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Written By: Sonal Agrawal      

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