The first few weeks in the classroom can be challenging. You’re given the room and the caseload but not much else. There’s a grade-level curriculum to be adapted, but before you can even start that, you have weeks of assessments and data collection ahead of you.
Here are a few ideas to help you survive the first two weeks of school in your special education classroom
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!
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, it would be best if you started collecting data. I keep all data sheets on a clipboard for accessible, grab-and-go data collection. Your data sheets must be specific to the student’s individual goals.
Each of my students has their own “data bag,” which is a zip-loc 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 and 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 ABCs and 123s 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, hands-on, and, most importantly, it focuses on necessary social skills in a way appropriate for my students’ levels.
While there is no one-size-fits-all strategy for back to school, I hope you found these pointers helpful!
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!