Wednesday Whatsits: What’s SEIT?

November 10, 2011 at 4:01 am Leave a comment

It seems like we all know someone who is, does, has, gets, or wants SEIT (pronounced “see-it”). You may even know that stands for “Special Education Itinerant Teacher.” But what is that supposed to mean, anyway?

According to the dictionary, “itinerant” means “traveling.” A SEIT is a teacher who doesn’t have his or her own class, and probably even bounces around to different schools, homes, or other sites each day, working with students wherever they are for a period or two (occasionally more) at a time. The details below, as usual, pertain especially to NYC – other districts may differ in the particulars.

Who gets a SEIT?

Typically, a SEIT is recommended for students ages 3-5 who have special needs but are not placed in a full-time special education program with a full-time special ed teacher. The service would be listed on their IFSP or IEP (another Wednesday Whatsit, perhaps?)

Who can be a SEIT? How do I become one?

Pretty much any state-certified special education teacher can be a SEIT. If the student has an especially specialized need (such as ABA – coming soon to a Wednesday near you!), preference may (and should) be given to someone with training, expertise, and/or experience in that area. If you are a certified teacher interested in working as a SEIT, cases are usually managed by special education agencies that help coordinate service plans, providers, and schedules. Contact local child development centers, and scan the ads that target parents to see who’s helping them get services. Don’t put all your eggs in this basket, though, because supply exceeds demand for SEIT at this time.

What does a SEIT do?

The SEIT’s job is to address the student’s special needs, so the specific activities will vary accordingly. The ideal is to help the student integrate into the regular class, but sometimes the SEIT needs to take the student aside and work with him or her individually. The SEIT can also guide the lead classroom teacher and/or the child’s parent[s] by showing them how to help the child when the SEIT isn’t there, or by setting up plans and programs to be continued between SEIT sessions. SEIT goals are typically educational in nature, but the SEIT also supports the child’s social and behavioral development.

So is a SEIT like a shadow?

This question sounds random after the above explanation, but I hear it all the time, so I’ll answer it here: No. A shadow is not  a certified teacher and usually doesn’t have any special training relevant to students with special needs. Although they can sometimes be helpful in this regard, it is generally not the shadow’s job to take care of students’ educational needs. Though a SEIT may stay with a student in their regular class and encourage the student to engage in class activities independently, s/he is not just sitting there, though it might appear so to a casual observer. If s/he is, in fact, just sitting there, then something’s wrong – but I wouldn’t jump to that conclusion too hastily. Moving a child towards integration is a very delicate balance and there may be more going on that you don’t realize.


Entry filed under: Preschool, Special education, Teaching, Uncategorized. Tags: , , , , , , .

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