My Special Education Classroom Schedule

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Welcome to the whirlwind world of special education, where flexibility is our middle name. Seriously, we’ve got to be SUPER flexible. Our schedules? Well, they’re like shape-shifters, constantly morphing to meet the ever-changing needs of our students, staff, and schools. Amidst the chaos, I’m here to share a little slice of sanity, which is my special education classroom schedule. I’m all about order in the midst of the madness. Some might call it borderline obsession, but hey, it keeps me sane. So, let’s dive into the organized chaos that is my day-to-day routine!

This image says, "My Special Education Classroom Schedule" and includes an image of an example schedule that can be used in special education classrooms.

Having a Classroom Schedule is a Must!

The backbone of any successful special education classroom is our schedule. In our line of work, structure isn’t just a nicety but an absolute necessity. Here’s why having a solid schedule is one of the keys to running a smooth special education classroom:

  1. Predictability Creates Comfort: For many of our students, predictability is their lifeline. Knowing what comes next provides a sense of security in an otherwise uncertain world. A well-crafted schedule acts as a roadmap, guiding them through their day with confidence and ease.
  2. Maximizing Learning Opportunities: With so many diverse needs under one roof, every minute counts. A thoughtfully planned schedule ensures that no time is wasted. Whether it’s structured work tasks, one-on-one instruction, or inclusive activities, each slot on the schedule is carefully curated to promote our students’ growth and development.
  3. Promoting Independence: One of our ultimate goals in special education is fostering independence. A consistent schedule plays a key role in making that happen. By establishing routines and expectations, we empower our students to take ownership of their learning journey, one step at a time.
  4. Managing Transitions: Let’s face it – transitions can be tough. But with a clear schedule in place, transitions become smoother sailing. Whether it’s moving from one activity to the next or transitioning between classrooms, having a predictable schedule helps ease anxiety and keeps everyone on track.
  5. Collaboration and Communication: A well-structured schedule is beneficial for students, teachers, and staff. By providing a common framework, it fosters collaboration and communication among team members, ensuring that everyone is on the same page and working towards common goals.

A classroom schedule isn’t just a bunch of random activities to check off boxes. It provides the rhythm and structure that our students need to thrive, setting the stage for success every day.

My Special Education Classroom Schedule Explained

Now, let’s zero in on the specifics of each part of my special education classroom schedule. Each class period has a goal, and every person, from teacher to paras to students, has a role. Let’s start the guided tour through the ins and outs of my classroom schedule.

UA- Unified Arts

Unified Arts is the hub of creativity and movement in our classroom! My students will cycle through music, gym, technology, art, and health throughout the year, with consistent time slots for each. My role as the teacher is to be the leader, guiding students through various activities and ensuring they get the most out of each session. I also communicate with my teacher aids and paraprofessionals on what their expectations are as they move around with our students. Typically, my paraprofessionals are assisting and supporting our students as they engage in these diverse experiences. Once we adults are organized, our students are able to explore their artistic and physical potential!

Life Skills

Next on our schedule is our Life Skills. I’ve transformed a corner of our classroom into a mini home-away-from-home that is complete with tasks straight out of daily life. From sorting laundry to hanging clothes, sorting silverware to vacuuming, and even wiping tables, every activity serves a purpose.

This photo shows an elementary age student folding laundry. Life skills like laundry are an important part of my special education classroom schedule.
Skills like sweeping and mopping are commonly learned during life skills time.

I find this portion of the day fun to plan for as I create activities that teach essential life skills. I also get to empower my students to tackle the challenges of adulthood with confidence. My paraprofessionals offer support and encouragement as our kiddos navigate these real-world tasks. They are so patient and truly dedicated to helping each student build confidence and independence.

Work Tasks

Another game-changer on our special education classroom schedule are the workboxes. I’ve carefully curated a collection of work boxes tailored to meet the diverse needs of our students. These boxes are filled with activities designed to target specific skills and goals. These workboxes keep our classroom running like a well-oiled machine. Each box serves a purpose, whether it’s fine-tuning fine motor skills, reinforcing academic concepts, or promoting independence.

This letter writing activity is an example of a workbox my students might use.
This word matching vocabulary activity might be a workbox in my classroom.
These hands-on work box activities allow students to work on specific skills related to their goals.

If you ever need inspiration for workboxes, head over to my Pinterest page, Teach.Love.Autism. I’ve got a whole collection of ideas and resources to get those creative juices flowing. Plus, stay tuned for updates on the latest additions to our workbox arsenal because there’s always room for more!

Reflex

Reflex isn’t your run-of-the-mill math program. It’s a math fact fluency superhero, swooping in to save the day with engaging games and activities that make learning a blast.

I didn’t just stumble upon Reflex by chance. I actually snagged a grant for it, and let me tell you, it was like hitting the jackpot. My students were hooked from day one, and the progress they made was nothing short of amazing. My administration saw the magic happening and decided to jump on board. That’s right, they went ahead and bought Reflex for us this year, and let me tell you, I couldn’t be more grateful!

Earn Time

Earn Time on our special education classroom schedule is our version of free choice, reinforcement, preferred activity time, or whatever you want to call it! My middle school students may not always need immediate reinforcement, but that doesn’t mean they don’t deserve a little reward for their hard work and positive behavior. That’s where Earn Time comes in.

We use Class Dojo to track positive and negative behaviors throughout the day. It’s a tool that helps us stay on top of things and ensures that everyone’s efforts are recognized and rewarded. Students earn points for demonstrating positive behaviors like participating in class, helping their peers, or completing assignments on time. Let me tell you, those points add up fast!

This image shows another key part of my special education classroom schedule, earn time. Students can choose to use earn time to do a craft, like what is shown in the photo.
Students can choose to read a  book during Earn Time.

Now, when it’s time for Earn Time, students get to cash in those hard-earned points for activities of their choice. Whether it’s playing a game, doing a craft, or simply relaxing with a good book, Earn Time is their chance to unwind and enjoy the fruits of their labor.

Morning Meeting on Our Special Education Classroom Schedule

The highlight of our morning is the Morning Meeting! It’s the ultimate combo of learning and fun. It’s a time that is packed with essential skills that set the tone for the day ahead.

We kick things off with a bang as we dive into the calendar, keeping track of important dates and events like pros. Then, we turn our attention to the weather because, hey, it’s always good to know what Mother Nature has in store for us! We sprinkle in a healthy dose of social skills because navigating the social landscape can be tricky. From turn-taking to active listening, Morning Meeting is our time to hone those all-important interpersonal skills.

This Morning Meeting board is the center of how we start out day.

Once we have that finished, turn to our News-2-You, our trusty companion for the week. We dive into current events, explore new topics, and expand our horizons one newspaper article at a time. I co-teach this with my SLP. Together, we bring our unique expertise to the table, creating a dynamic learning environment that’s both educational and entertaining.

Morning Work / Chores

Next, in our special education classroom schedule, we have morning work or chores! As soon as our students unpack for the day, they dive into their designated binders and tasks scattered throughout the classroom. These structured activities are designed to kick-start the day on the right foot.

Now, why do we do this? It’s all about setting the tone for success. While our students are busy tackling their morning tasks, I’m able to take care of important housekeeping duties like taking attendance, making phone calls to parents, and all that other crazy stuff that comes with being a teacher. These morning activities are meaningful tasks that reinforce important skills and concepts. From practicing handwriting to reviewing math facts, every activity serves a purpose.

We can’t forget about the structure it provides. With a clear routine in place, our students know exactly what to expect each morning. This helps them ease into the day with confidence and focus.

Math DI / Reading DI Time on Special Education Classroom Schedule

This image shows one-on-one instruction between a student and teacher which is essential to any special education classroom schedule.

A main part of our one-on-one time is Math DI/Reading DI! Each of our students has their own dedicated time with me, either for math or reading, depending on their individual needs. It’s not just any old curriculum we’re working with. Oh no, it’s carefully selected material geared towards their IEP goals and skills that we’ve identified as crucial based on beginning-of-the-year assessments.

Now, why is this so special? Well, it’s all about meeting our students where they are and helping them reach their full potential. With personalized binders filled with targeted activities and resources, we’re able to zero in on their strengths and areas for growth, one session at a time.

Our one-on-one time is about academic growth, but it’s also about building confidence and fostering a love of learning. Whether we’re tackling math problems or diving into a good book, our students know that this time is all about them and their unique journey toward success.

Science/Social Studies

When it comes to teaching science or social studies, I’m doing it with a little help from my friends, News-2-You, and Unique Learning System. We’ve got our hands on some seriously cool resources that make learning about the world around us a total blast. With News-2-You, we dive into current events, explore new topics, and spark curiosity with engaging articles and activities. We’ve also got the Unique Learning System in our toolkit. With its interactive lessons and multimedia resources, we’re able to bring science and social studies to life in so many ways.

Now, we can either rotate topics, keeping things fresh and exciting, or if our students are really digging a particular subject, we’ll dive in deep and carry on with it for a week or even a month! It’s all about following their interests and letting their curiosity be our guide.

Fluency

During our fluency station, my amazing paraprofessional keeps the station running smoothly for our kiddos.  Each of our students has their own personal set of cards, packed with skills they’ve recently mastered. With my paraprofessional’s expert guidance and support, our students dive into their personalized sets to work on maintaining fluency in those oh-so-important skills. Whether it’s multiplication tables, sight words, or social cues, our students have everything they need to stay on top of their game.

students work on fluency of previously mastered skills with a paraprofessional

The best part is that it’s all tailored to each student’s individual needs. That’s right, no one-size-fits-all approach here. Each student’s set is carefully crafted based on what they need to succeed, ensuring that they’re getting the targeted practice they deserve.

Binder Work

Let’s take a minute to chat about the powerhouse that is Binderwork. I’ve got another superstar paraprofessional taking the lead to make sure everything runs smoothly. They help to guide and support our students as they work on the binders. They help to give our kiddos confidence to share that they’re going down the right path!

During Binder work, it’s all about catering to the individual needs of our students. Whether it’s math, reading, writing, grammar, handwriting, or any other skill under the sun, we’ve got it covered. Each student’s binder is full of targeted activities and resources designed to meet them right where they are on their learning journey.

Inclusion in the Special Education Classroom Schedule

During Inclusion time, our students venture out into the world of regular education for their instruction.

Our students are able to join their peers. They get the chance to share ideas in a group project, collaborate on a science experiment, or simply enjoy lunch together. Luckily, we have incredible educators who make it all possible. From classroom teachers to support staff, everyone plays a vital role in creating an environment where all students feel welcome and valued.

Inclusion is a special time in our day

So, whether it’s learning new concepts, making new friends, or simply being part of a community, Inclusion is where the adventure begins. With open hearts and open minds, our students are breaking down barriers and building bridges that will last a lifetime.

Start Organizing Your Special Education Classroom Schedule

Wow, who knew explaining my classroom schedule would be such an adventure? If you have any questions about what I’ve covered or need further details, I’m here to help. Just give me a shout! Plus, stay tuned for more detailed posts on some of the specific components I mentioned. And get excited because I’ll be sharing pictures of my classroom reveal soon, giving you an inside look at how everything comes together in action! Can’t wait to continue this journey with you all!

Looking for More?

Check out these posts for more info on crafting a special education classroom schedule:

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Wondering how you can possibly fit everything in to your special education classroom schedule? If so, this post will help you out with an example schedule, the routines and activities I include in my own classroom and ideas for websites you can use to make your day run smoothly!

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