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Sunday, July 31, 2016

6 Ways to Get Your Sped Classroom Ready... plus a freebie and a giveaway!

As you already know, there are a TON of things to do to get your special ed classroom ready for the new year. Sometimes, though, we overlook some of the little things that, when forgotten, can be really, really stressful. The last thing you want to do is scramble for something in front of parents on the first day or while your class is staring at you, wondering what you're looking for. (We've all experienced that one!)

So, in addition to the obvious decorating and labeling, be ready with some of these things so you look like you know what you're doing.

1. If you have assistants, meet with them before school starts! Sometimes we don't see them until the first day of school, but it would be great if you were able to meet before the students and their parents are walking in the door. If you don't have time to meet, at least write it down for them. Let them know...
  • what you want them to do as parents are bringing students in the door 
  • how to handle students that are already acting out in the first five minutes
  • where they are expected to be, who they are scheduled to work with and what their duties will be
Not only will this give you peace of mind to know that someone's got your back, but your assistants will feel much better knowing what is expected of them. 

2. Get your VISUALS ready. This is still hard for me. It is so time consuming. The easiest way to tackle this is to dedicate one day to work on just your visuals for your classroom. You'll feel so prepared if you do this. 

  • Have your visual schedules ready for every student. Even students who don't need individual schedules need at least a larger, whole-group visual schedule. I have both up in my room.
  • Have visual procedures posted for arrival, dismissal, bathroom use, hand-washing, clean-up, small-group behavior, designated areas, etc... 
You'd be surprised at how many students will refer to these. It helps even the students you think don't need this. Sometimes we don't know what will be needed for our students, so have a good supply of visuals at your fingertips. Visuals help students know what to expect and feel calm. They can't always read class rules or fancy schedules but they can understand pictures. Search for "visual schedule" on TPT for lots of choices.  

3. Schedule every minute! In a special ed classroom, nothing good comes from down-time, repeat 3x! There are students, of course, that may be able to handle down-time at some point in the year, but NOT the first week.
  • Have a plan for those that arrive too early. 
  • Do real work (easy is ok) even on the first day.
  • Have a plan for early finishers. You may have a 30-minute lesson planned, but there's always that student that finishes a worksheet in 2 minutes.
  • Arm your assistants with back-up activities for those early finishers.
4. Post important information in an easy to find spot. 
  • Schedules for everyone in the room 
  • Allergies and medication times 
  • Behavior plans
  • Emergency procedures
  • special needs/bathroom plans: some students have quirky needs ("doesn't like Cheerios" or "Is afraid of flushing toilets" can prevent lots of headaches!)
5. Collect information from parents, asap. At my school we have a Back-to-School (meet the teacher) a few days before school starts. This gives me a chance to collect up-to-date information that I can have ready on the first day of class. If I don't see them on this day, I hand them a clipboard with this sheet as soon as they walk in. It is short and sweet and has vital information for me. This is what I use and it's free in my store here. At the very least, you need to know...
  • how to contact the parent for questions
  • allergies
  • how they get home
6. Be ready with Incentives! Be sure you have a plan for your behavior system. While we tend to think of consequences first, try the opposite. 
  • Many sped classrooms use a "First-Then" chart. Look it up if you haven't heard of this, it works wonders. Basically it shows students that they "work first, then reward of choice". This can be computer time, playdough, listening center, etc... 
  • For students who can work in small groups, I use a simple sticker chart that provides for immediate positive reinforcement. In the beginning, every "desired" behavior gets a sticker and students think their teacher must have gone crazy! I give out stickers for every little thing! Little by little, I wean them off of sticker-overload and still get the same results. You can find my sticker book in my TPT store here

 Student Motivator Sticker Book
No matter what the behavior needs are, children are always motivated by something they want. Find out what it is. 

There are great resources on Teachers Pay Teachers to get your special ed classroom ready. In fact, here's a little giveaway to help out! Enter to win a $10 gift card to my store! You have a real good chance of winning since my blog is fairly new! :) Don't forget to follow my blog for more fun giveaways and freebies! 

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1 comment:

  1. Dania thank you for making me feel that I am on the right path to preparing my year in my self-contained K-3 room!


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