How to Plan Your Classes When Everyone Has Different IEP Goals

A woman in glasses and a white cardigan is intently writing in a spiral notebook at a wooden desk with a tablet, a smartphone, a coffee cup, and office supplies

There is a LOT of curriculum to cover as a transition teacher. It feels like there’s so much to teach – from money management to vocational skills. You’re supposed to teach your students all these to help them become as independent for adulthood as possible.

Add the fact that each of your students has different needs, learning abilities, and IEP goals. It can be overwhelming!

So, how do you plan out what to teach so that the curriculum is cohesive even when your students have unique needs?

Here are some friendly tips to help you plan your classes when everyone has different IEP goals.

#1. Start with a Roadmap

First things first: before you plan how to teach, you must know WHAT to teach! Find a roadmap or guide for your curriculum. A transition curriculum roadmap can help you know what essential skills to teach and in what order.

#2. Prioritize IEP Goals

The real priority is to make sure you are covering each student’s IEP goals – this is legally what we teachers have to do. 

Begin by reviewing the IEP goals of your students and stay organized as you track all the info by using a trusted IEP management system. This way, you can keep IEP goals and outcomes in mind when planning classroom activities and conducting evaluations.

#3. Find Overlapping Goals

See where the student’s goals overlap. When students have common goals, you can prepare activities that they can work on at the same time. This way, you can streamline your efforts and teach certain skills in a more integrated way.

You can use a spreadsheet to scan for which students overlap in what goal areas easily! Take a look at the example below.

Student IEP Overlap Screenshot

#4. Align Goals with Your Curriculum

Now that you know the overlapping goals, revisit your curriculum map and consider how your school year is structured. Is it quarterly? Then break the curriculum up into four main chunks.

You can choose which topics to teach within those based on your students’ IEP goals and needs that year. Prioritize which curriculum areas you need to be sure to cover. This ensures you cover individual goals while maintaining a cohesive plan.

#5 Introduce an IEP Goals Block

Yes, you have classes for teaching IEP goals. However, since students will have some specific goals that don’t overlap, you also need to allocate time beyond structured group classes for an “IEP Goals Block.”

You can block out at least 30 minutes (or up to an hour) a day for IEP goals time. This is a time when students independently work on their IEP goals. They can choose a goal they haven’t worked on in a while and find the materials from their binder or Google Drive folder.

#6 Provide IEP Work Bins

IEP Goals Block can be more effective and efficient with IEP work bins. Each student has their own bin filled with their binder, additional worksheets, and even mastered work. 

It’s a practical way to dedicate time and space to IEP goals and to keep your student’s individual progress visible.

#7 Embrace Flexibility

Be flexible and adapt as you go! Students may learn at a different pace than you expect. Sometimes, you will easily fly through a curriculum or find you need to keep revisiting a more fundamental skill before advancing to the next topic.

Patience is key! Remember that it’s okay to change plans once in a while to adjust your lessons according to what your students need. It’s all part of the process.

A student and a teacher sit at a table facing each other, with the student holding a pen and looking attentively at a notebook as the teacher speaks

#8 Use Differentiated Instructions

As mentioned, students learn at a different pace. Plus, they also learn better in different ways!

Explore different strategies for your teaching methods and activities to accommodate various learning styles and abilities within your classroom.

For example, I like using worksheets with similar topics but with multiple levels (difficulties) and different sets of instructions.

#9 Collaborate with Support

You’re not alone in this journey! Work together with your paraprofessionals and co-teachers when planning for a class with different IEP goals.

Your paras spend a lot of time working closely with students, so they’re bound to know plenty of information about your students’ learning styles, strengths, and challenges. Let your paraprofessionals share insights when planning for your class.

Additionally, you can ask your co-teachers for ideas about which strategies they find the most effective when teaching and assessing their students.

Final notes . . . 

Planning for a classroom with different IEP goals may seem difficult, but with the right approach, it can be done. I hope these tips help you become well-equipped to plan your class and provide a classroom that caters to your students’ diverse needs!

Exploring what to teach your transition students, and overwhelmed by the endless ideas?

Remember that your units of focus will depend on your students’ needs; you can build your own curriculum map for the year by using this guide in conjunction with your students’ IEP goals. 

Use the free Transition Roadmap Scope & Sequence here!