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What is a SEIT?

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I get that question a lot. What is a SEIT? To the point where I don’t even normally tell people that’s my profession, choosing instead to say that I’m a special education teacher. Really, it’s much more than that. A SEIT is like a super hyper-specialized special education teacher that moves from place to place and focuses primarily on working with children with severe or multiple disabilities.

Did you just get a job offer to become a SEIT? Is someone recommending you get a SEIT for your child? Do you have a student in your class who has a SEIT and you have no idea what role that person plays? Don’t even stress, I’m going to walk you through it. 

The first time someone told me they were a SEIT they were talking in such a matter-of-fact way, I just pretended to know what they’re talking about. If you’re here chances are you have also heard the term and have no idea what it means. No judgment here!

Let’s break it down simply. There is the colloquial way the term is used and the official way. SEIT stands for Special Education Interim Teacher. In the official legal definition, at least in New York State, they work with preschool and kindergarten-age children. They specialize in early interventions and travel to wherever their student is. SEITs can work out of the classroom, homes, or schools. 

Officially, after a child is over the age of six they no longer get SEIT services. They get SETSS. That stands for Special Education Teacher Support Services. It is for children six and up. In the context of kids with severe or multiple disabilities, a SETSS provider can still travel to a child’s home, school or classroom.

However, typically when you say SETSS, people picture someone employed by a school. In this capacity, a SETSS teacher only works with children in their classroom or in a resource room in group settings. 

Since this is the more common image of SETSS, typically in the severe or multiple disability world everyone who is considered highly specialized and only works with kids with severe and multiple disabilities, is called a SEIT. 

Technically I have never worked with a child under the age of six, so legally I’m a SETSS provider. However, no one calls me that. When I’m in a professional setting everyone calls me a SEIT.

Once I was at a conference, and I told a Speech and Language Pathologist that I do. Her eyes got big. “Oh, you’re a SEIT! That means you do everything!” 

A SEIT customizes what they do based on the needs of the child they are working with. If your kid needs to learn how to talk, then that’s what they teach. Does your student refuse to brush their teeth, they can work on that. What about if your child is in school? Do they need to learn to write a five-paragraph essay? We can teach that too.

Oh, you’re a SEIT? That means you do everything!

Comment made at Professional Development seminar

I have taught everything from handwashing to board games to research techniques for five paragraph essays. When you are SEIT you have to be able to think flexibly and change your mindset quickly. 

Additionally, a good SEIT should be aware of what the other professionals in your child’s life are working on. I have conversations about my students with their Occupational Therapists, Speech Therapists, and Physical Therapists often. I want to make sure goals across all domains are generalizing in all environments.

A good SEIT can be hard to find, but ultimately can make a massive impact on a child’s life. If you are in the process of hiring one, keep your chin up and your standards for who gets the honor of working with your child high.

If you are thinking of becoming a SEIT make sure to make professional connections and reach out to other SEITs in your area to learn techniques and find new cases.

Make sure to join my email list to learn more about the highly specialized world of being a SEIT, and check out this blog post on teaching students with special needs in the summer!

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