An Educator’s Journey Through Special Education Blog 13

Blog 13 Leading Self

We’re finishing up with Tier One with Leading Self this week in our Connecticut Aspiring Leadership Academy for Special Education. We’re learning about developing our action plan, identifying outcomes, and doing a job audit of what we do at work on a typical day to be more prepared to write good job descriptions and succession plans.

I learned that an action plan is like an individualized education plan (IEP) for adults. I’ve been writing IEPs for my special education students for many years, so hopefully, I can hand this adult IEP version they’re calling an action plan for my future career as a special education leader.

In this personal action plan, which does involve leading myself, I’m supposed to identify the future professional outcomes I want to see, my goals, and have specific objectives and a time frame. However, the time frame is flexible because we will continue to build our action plan out as we become more knowledgeable and adept at knowing ourselves, leading ourselves, knowing what we want to happen, and what we want to become.

Some in my cohort wanted to do some pretty big things beyond where I am in my special education career. One lady, already a school administrator, wanted to create a pupil services manual for her school district that would have everything someone would need who comes into their school district in pupil services.

Another colleague, who is already on the ladder of special education leadership, wants to clean up her district’s special education referral process. She feels her district is making more special education referrals than it should. She also wants to improve her school’s mentoring system because she feels her staff relies too much on her for the correct special education answer.

This particular woman commented how their special education district coordinator is highly well-versed in her job and barks out orders to people. She’s so far ahead of people that they do what she tells them to do without question. My classmate doesn’t want to develop into that type of leader. She wants to expand the people under her so they can begin doing things on their own instead of looking up the food chain for answers and permission.

Because my personality type was the Orange Color, and those types of personalities love to try different and new things, I wasn’t sure what to focus my action plan on. The immediate thing that popped into my head was for me to successfully apply next year for the part-time U.S. Department of Education School Ambassador Fellowship. I could work on education policy that would affect the special education services and all educational services in Connecticut and in the City of New Britain, where I teach. I could also further my career as a school union political officer.

In regards to what special education leadership position I want to pursue within my school district, things become a little trickier. I’m not sure what I want to do. One of the members in my group said I should say I’m going to explore my options further. And while I thought that was a great idea, and I do plan on doing that, I also wondered about getting more involved in the State’s efforts to streamline the IEP process.

This summer, I heard that the CT Department of Education would have some professional development training on the new IEP process. Looking into the new IEP training could meet my need to learn more about special education, yet stay a little longer in my present job as the special education teacher who teaches all the history classes in my alternative high school. I still enjoy teaching my history classes. The question becomes: Are there any summer training slots available for the new IEP.

I decided to take three steps to help myself reach my goal in my action plan regarding the IEP training. First, I talked to my building principal. Then I emailed our special education district director. Finally, I set up a zoom meeting with him for the following week. Hopefully, taking these three steps will be enough to get me a spot in the summer training if there are any slots available.

If it doesn’t work out for some reason, then my school principal and district special education director know I’m interested in future special education training and leadership roles. In addition, I will continue to explore future special education leadership options within my school district and pursue the School Ambassador Fellowship in Washinton, D.C.

In a prelude to writing our succession plan, I did an actual audit of my job for a typical day as the special education teacher teaching history classes. I found out that I do many more things than I initially thought.

Here is my Job Audit:

  1. Take attendance.
  2. Research and plan for the four history classes I teach every day. Write lesson plans. Put planned content into Google ClassroomTeach four history classes every day.
  3. Grade students’ history work and put grades into the computer.
  4. Research and plan for the one life skills class I teach every day. Write lesson plans. Put planned content into Google Classroom.
  5. Teach the one life skills class every day.
  6. Grade students’ life skills work and put grades into the computer.
  7. Manage student behaviors.
  8. Plan for and attend program placement team (ppt) meetings.
  9. Call parents about students’ progress.
  10. Call when students are absent.
  11. Call parents back when they have called me or requested a call back in an email.
  12. Do the special education testing.
  13. Write Individualized Education plans (IEPs).
  14. Create reports and copies of reports for myself, student records, and various people in attendance at the ppt, like the parents.
  15. Follow up with outside caregivers of the students.
  16. Consult with regular education teachers who also work with my students in the building.
  17. Modify instruction.
  18. Modify grades based on the IEP.
  19. Keep the principal informed.
  20. Do transitional assessments, student interviews, and planning.
  21. Make referrals for special education services.
  22. Collaborate with social workers, guidance, and school psychologist.
  23. Keep paraeducators informed and work with them as a team—delegate duties.
  24. Get to know students and their parents and/or caregivers.
  25. Create a reward point system.
  26. Do the point system. Give out points, and keep track of point sheets.
  27. Continuously communicate with the school secretary.
  28. Make sure the kids get to all their classes.
  29. Make sure kids get on the right bus.


I didn’t realize I do a good 30 things every day. And I’m sure I do even more. I must have forgotten to write down some things I do. In closing, there is always room to improve and grow. And if one is willing to crawl, walk, and then run, like starting with just writing a job audit, one can professionally develop into a future special education leader.

I’m looking forward to seeing what I learn next week in the education world when we begin Tier Two, which consists of the special education laws. That would probably also be up my alley as a teacher union officer in the political realm.