The first few weeks in the self-contained classroom can be tough. You’re given the room and the caseload, but not much else. There’s grade level curriculum to be adapted, but before you can even start that, you’ve got weeks of assessments and data collection ahead of you.
Here are a few ideas to help you survive the first two weeks of school.
1.) Get Organized
I wish I could say I am an organized person by nature, but I’m just not. I’m a “setter.”
While my love for being creative benefits me in the classroom, having a messy classroom does not. Instead, I must be very conscious of where I put things. This year, my classroom is labeled and color-coded, to keep me on track!
1) Dollar Tree 2) The Container Store 3) Wal Mart* 4) Wal Mart* 5) Lakeshore Learning
*I’m not sure why the Wal Mart prices are so expensive online, but I paid no more than $10 for these in the store.
Starting the year with an organized classroom sets the tone for a calm, ready-to-learn environment.
2.) District Assessments
Familiarize yourself with all district assessments and make a calendar of the due dates. You don’t want those deadlines to sneak up on you!
3.) IEP Goals
Right away, you need to start collecting data. I keep all data sheets on a clipboard for easy, grab-and-go data collection. It is important that your data sheets are specific to the student’s individual goals.
Each of my students has their own “data bag,” which is a ziploc bag with any materials I need to assess the student’s goals (sight word flashcards, math manipulatives, etc).
Having this at your fingertips eliminates the wasted time (and headache) of searching for supplies.
4.) Teach Schedules and Routines
Consistency is SO important to my students. I once had a student break down in tears after we took a left instead of our usual right. Yeah. That happened.
With structure such a high priority, we practice our schedules and routines daily. I want my students to know what each station looks like, what it sounds like. It is equally important to practice what happens when there is a change in a child’s schedule, as that can sometimes cause a student great distress.
5.) Discuss Classroom Expectations
While you may be tempted to jump right into the ABC’s and 123’s of learning, you will also want to focus on the social aspect of back-to-school, such as classroom rules and behavior expectations.
I am thrilled to have found The Behavior Basics program from Autism Adventures. It is leveled, it is hands on, and, most importantly, it focuses on necessary social skills in a way that is appropriate for the levels of my students.
While there is no one-size-fits-all strategy for back to school, I hope you found these pointers useful!
How do you prepare for the first two weeks?
For more great tips on how to schedule your first two weeks, be sure to check out Kayla from My Special Learners!
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