Special Education Summer Series- Scheduling
Welcome to week one of Kinder Sped Adventures weekly summer blog hop.
This week were talking about scheduling. It’s a vital part of every classroom but I think THAT word makes every special education teacher start to sweat. There’s just so much that goes into planning a schedule in a special needs classroom. Core subjects, specials (art,music,PE), therapies, inclusion time, para schedules, lunch, recess ETC. And then toss in students in multiple grades with multiple needs to address and scheduling can quickly turn into this daunting mountain that feels impossible to climb. While I don’t have all the answers, I do have some ideas for making the schedule monster a little easier to handle.
*Define your non-negotiables first and schedule them*
Like I am required to spend so many minutes a day on my literacy block so I make sure that is included in the schedule and any other part that I HAVE to make sure is included. Then I build in the parts I want to get to as much as possible.
*Build in breaks*
This makes it easier for students as they’ll know a break is coming and it helps make it easier for you to schedule para breaks or lunches.
*If you have a large class, embrace the WHOLE class schedule*
Lots of teachers try to build schedules that allow for para’s to push in with 1 student at a time during specials or some other time during the day. That’s great if you have a small class. But I have 13 students and only 4 adults. That math equals a scheduling nightmare. Last year we set aside 9:00-10:00 as our PUSH IN time. We put students into small groups and they went with a para into their regular education class. Some only stayed for a little while and then they came back. Others stayed for the whole hour and some were able to stay longer than that on their own. But everyone got to go in as much as they were able and none of my para’s were running around all over the place all day and I’m not pulling my hair out trying to keep track of it all.
Centers were a lifesaver. They’re predictable, flexible and I could prep all the materials in advance then leave a para in charge of that center. It also made it easier for me to work with one or two students at time and still have my students engaged else where.
This is a simple room layout I made for my para’s and I when we first started centers. It has where each center is located in the classroom. My classroom isn’t very big and I didn’t have enough room to have students work individually at a center. So students were placed in pairs and they went through three rotations a day. Then the next day they rotated through the other three centers. This was less prep for my paras and I and it gave us more time with each group. Notice the ipad station a para next to it: I locked the ipads on a certain app and the pair of students at that station worked independently on the rug next to my table. This way I could keep an eye on them but they were working independently for the most part. I will be some tweaks to my center rotation next year but overall I REALLY loved center time.
Since we are talking about schedules, I’ll go ahead and share my students center schedules. Students are paired up and they rotate through three centers each day. These spots are labeled with these images in my room for extra visual supports for those students that need it. The schedules were laminated and students use a dry erase marker to check off each center as the complete it.
*If you use centers in your classroom I recommend structuring the rotations so that students end on a center they prefer. I have two student who work really hard to earn time on the Ipad but would have difficulty getting off the ipad and going to a new center if it was first or second on their schedule. I made sure that it was the last center of their day to help them be more successful during centers.
*Another good tip for the beginning of the school year: GO SLOW!!! Build up your students stamina for centers and rotations by starting really slow and making each rotation short and sweet. For the first couple of weeks, each rotations was maybe 10 minutes long. Then we went back to the carpet, did a short brain break and moved to the next rotation. I also made sure the that the activities were simple ones that focused on learning/reviewing how to uses the center materials correctly.
What the Day Looks Like
This is my class schedule for next year. I’m working with Pre-K through 2 next year and I have some students that have naps for medical reasons so the main change I’m making is adding a nap time. Notice that I schedule my para’s lunch and break during breaks in the day. I want my para’s in my room as much possible during the academic portions of the day.
Hopefully this has been helpful as we all start to think about planning for next year. If you have any questions or want to know about any part of my students day please leave a comment or shoot me an email. And make sure to hop on to the other bloggers to check out how they schedule their days.
Next up is Adventures In The ATC. Hop on over and check her schedule out!