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This is my first year as a special education teacher. I am finding the paper work overwhelming and frustrating. I am so busy with the paperwork I have little time to work with my students. In fact, my classroom aide does most of the one-on-one! There is so much more to special education than even I knew as a five year classroom aide.

How do I understand the results of diagnostic testing? And after I understand the test, what does that tell me about what to actually do with the child? I did not have any training in how to give or even understand the results of any testing. At the moment, I am trying to understand the WISC III and Woodcock Johnson Test of Achievement results for a student who appears borderline. How can I understand it so if I can show that he needs special education services with my documentation? Is there a book or something you could suggest that will help me in the future?

Your first year as a teacher can be a challenge, particularly for a special education teacher. Trying to balance the burdens of paperwork, designing instruction and accommodations based on diagnostic testing and finding time to work with students can be overwhelming. Seek out additional educational opportunities and mentoring from other special education professionals.

You may want to investigate options for online mentoring and professional development. With the explosion of blogs and social networking sites, more and more teachers are developing an online presence. Educator blogs can provide a window into other classrooms and help you see how other teachers address some of the issues you mentioned.

You might also try posting questions in an online forum for educators. LD Online has a forum, as do a number of other educational organizations. You may try asking about resources on diagnostic testing in the LD Online forum Teaching Students with LD and ADHD. You might also try posting questions on the Teacher to Teacher forum at the National Association of Special Education Teachers.

Here are some other places you might look for teacher opinions and advice:

Amazon.com Listmania : A collection of user-created lists of Amazon products in a variety of categories. Searching for Special Education returns lists of books and educational tools recommended by people in the field. Here you may find some excellent suggestions from teachers for books on assessment, first year teaching and other topics of interest.

Special Education Channel on About.com : About.com has a special education channel written by Sue Watson, a special educator with 19 years of experience in the field. The channel features a blog, articles, printable worksheets, resources and a community forum.

Center for Integrating Technology in Education (CITEd) : CITEd provides a variety of resources and information on using technology to differentiate instruction for students with disabilities. You might want to check out the Teacher Center sections Assess Student Progress and Manage IEP and Administrative Tasks for a list of resources.

Note from LD OnLine: Visit Dr. Silver’s special education section to see a Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist’s response to the same question.

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