Our students spend a lot of time each week out of the classroom at specials. While there are many benefits to music, art, PE, and library, these specials can eat up a lot of time… time our students need to work on their IEP goals.
Specials area classes are a great opportunity to practice generalizing skills. Students get the chance to work on skills:
- in different settings
- using different materials
- with different staff members
It is important that we use as much of the school day as possible to target goals in different ways. Here are 3 tips for targeting IEP goals in specials.
review iep goals with teachers
Don’t assume that the special area teachers have read and understand IEPs. Reach out to each of them. You might even want to make a cheat sheet for the teachers that highlight the goals, supports students need and even a few example of how to target the goals. Be sure to share tips or tricks that you’ve found to be helpful.
The special area teachers only spend a short amount of time each week with our students, so we need to make it EASY for them. By taking the time to reach out, you are giving your students more opportunities to work on learning new skills.
train paras to target iep goals
Next, make sure that the paras know what the goals are for each student and that they are expected to support the special area teacher in targeting them. Most IEP goals can be addressed at specials. Here are some examples:
- Work on counting while bouncing a ball or doing exercises in PE.
- Target sequencing goals in art class while doing projects.
- Work on following directions, filling in phrases, etc. in music class
When paras know what the goals & expectations, they can find ways to incorporate the IEP goals into whatever activities they are doing. Your paras can also help answer any questions or concerns that pop up in real time, too.
embed therapies in specials
Schedule therapists to do push in sessions during special area classes.
- If you have a student who struggles with motor planning in PE, have your PT push in with that student. The PT can help the student work on their IEP goals while supporting them and helping them through the PE activities.
- I have had my OT and my SLP go to art classes with my students. Art class is a great chance for the OT to work on fine motor goals. There are also many opportunities for the speech therapist to work on communication with both peers and the teacher, following directions, etc.
Again, make sure you communicate with the therapist what your expectations are for when they are working with a student during a special. They can be working on goals other than those specific to their therapy. If therapists aren’t able to do push in sessions for special area classes, they can give TAs some tips for working on their goals during those times.
Focus on maximizing the time students spend working on their IEP goals in different ways. If we use the resources we have (the special area teachers, our paras, our therapists, etc.), this can be an easy thing to do.
The key to making it successful & effective? Communication! Make sure there’s frequent communicate. Every opportunity we give our students to work on their goals puts them one step closer to mastering them … which is our goal!