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What I've Learned

… as a special education educator


Amanda Lohrenz is a special education teacher with Enid Public Schools in northwest Oklahoma. These are the lessons she’s learned in the special education classroom.

Be flexible! As a special needs educator this is a must. If something isn’t working try something else. The same strategies will not work with every student, so you must be willing to try new things.

Listen to parents. Parents, especially those of special needs students, need to be heard and understood. They want to know you respect them and care about their child’s best interest, so be open when talking with them.

See a child for their ability, not their disability. Plain and simple, don’t label them based on their disability.

Don’t get stressed out or burdened down with paperwork. I’m not saying it’s not important because on the contrary it is vital to keep up with IEP’s, behavior plans, etc. But do not let these things dominate your life or stress you out. Seek out other special Ed teachers for help when writing an IEP goal if you are struggling, for example. Collaborate. If your paperwork is orderly, you know when deadlines are coming. Don’t complete important paperwork at the last minute, and you will be more effective as a teacher, which leads me to my next lesson.

Organization helps. Keep track of phone logs to parents, list of IEP due dates, students goals and when or how they met them, confidential files, etc. It is extremely important to keep such information organized. I remember my first year of teaching when my files were not organized and my student information was scattered in various places. Not good!

Have high expectations for every student. I push my students to achieve to their highest potential. Just because they are on an IEP does not mean they cannot learn or be held to a high standard. They can be taught academics and character traits like respect and responsibility.

Show love every day. Whether it’s a kind touch, an encouraging word, or a simple smile, a little love goes a long way. Author Virginia Satir said, “It takes four hugs a day to survive, eight hugs a day to maintain, and 12 hugs a day to grow and thrive.” It is important they know you love and care about them.


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