Have you ever found yourself sorting through student files like Individualized Education Plans, 504s, and gifted and talented profiles in a mild state of panic? I know the feeling of needing information about student needs quickly and trying to sift through pages of electronic files to get it.
In this moment, the stress and anxiety make you question whether you are doing your best to help your students. There is no doubt that you want to give them their best chance, but the paperwork is suffocating and exhausting. I knew there had to be a better way, so I made myself a quick and painless solution: a cheat sheet.
What is the Student Needs Cheat Sheet?
The Student Needs Cheat Sheet is how I’ve manged to keep track of student needs and provide them with the supports they need. As a secondary teacher, this cheat sheet has allowed me to easily provide accommodations and modifications for between 120-180 students per year. These accommodations have run the gamut from students who are unable to read at a pre-K level to twice-exceptional students to cancer survivors and gifted musicians and scholars.
The Cheat Sheet is a simple chart with a column for you to list student names and to check off which accommodations they require. There is additional space for you to write notes about their individual goals, the specific nature of a student’s learning disability, or particular gifts and talents.
When it is time for oral testing or a modified assignment, you can simply look down this checklist on a single piece of paper and know exactly who needs what. While it takes an evening to set up one cheat sheet for each class, the front-loading approach to understanding and simplifying the needs of my students has made it possible for me to feel confident that I am meeting their needs.