Post #2 in Blog Series: “Self Contained Class Sample Schedules”
Since every school and class is different for the first week of school, I am sharing what I have done regarding class schedules to help other teachers out. I really have a soft heart for new special ed teachers, or those moving to a new school/grade/class. I have found that resources are usually limited, so we sped teachers need to stick together, encourage each other and help each other out. So that is why I offer these sample schedules – please adapt and change them according to the needs of your students. I know when I started teaching self-contained I collaborated with other sped teachers and scoured the internet looking for ideas. So if this helps you, great! If it doesn’t, that is too bad, but maybe it will help you cement in your mind with DOES work with your population of students. So here is PART TWO: THE FIRST WEEK.
We usually have a short week at the beginning of the school year, so the first few days are just getting the kids used to coming to school and waiting until lunch to eat (they will get hungry sooner so have a snack ready, even you usually won’t be providing a snack). Below is a sample of what I have done for the first week of school when I taught special ed multi-grades in a self-contained room. In California, this is called a special day class, or SDC class. This class was on a general ed public school campus (student population was around 1,000 Pre-K to sixth grade).
First of all, do not expect to jump into working on specific standards or student goals. Students with disabilities usually need more time to settle into coming to school, the routines, etc. I learned that the most important thing to a good rest of the year is the spend at least two, but maybe up to four weeks getting kids used to the routine and slowly adding academics. Again, I usually had 3-4 grades levels per class. If you don’t have such a wide spread of classes, or if you have less than 10 kids, it will be easier for you. Also, I had students with various mild/moderate disabilities, such as autism (or Aspergers at the time), intellectual disability, ADHD, a few with more severe learning disability, and rarely a student who was emotionally disturbed.
Below is a sample schedule for the first day of school. You will see that the lesson/activities are easy games, activities and art projects to be added to bulletin boards for Back to School Night. I had two para-professional aides in my class so you can see written instructions I gave them. I also gave them verbal directions. I also had a para binder I gave them and either asked them to read sections on their own or to take home. I had a lot of my own stuff, but I also purchased The Autism Helper’s para binder and inserted some parts of it into my binder (because not all my students had autism). I highly recommend her Para Binder.
I had a lot of students and grades so whole class lessons didn’t really work unless necessary (like when both my paras were in a first day of school meeting). One year I only had grade 2-4 and most kids were reading so that year I did do some whole class lessons. But it really varies from year to year, so be prepared that your schedule will be somewhat fluid for awhile until you see what works! (And that is okay… boy did I struggle with that at first… I think I need to write a different blog post about how I handled changes to schedule, discipline systems, grouping, etc.)
For the first day I have a different section for each rotation, so each adult knows which students should be with them each time. I do this at first because both paras that year were new to my school and class, so they didn’t know the students, or me, at all. (I think about half the class had been in my room the previous year). So I tried to spell it all out to make it easier on all of us. When you have students rotating through the room to different groups, if at all possible have them go the same direction the whole year (either clockwise or counterclockwise). It will be easier on everyone if you have them go in a circle direction.
Below is a sample schedule for the second day of school. Note that this time I don’t list the kids for each rotation (just where they go for the first group). By now they should be used to rotating the same direction.
So if you study these, you will probably end up with questions. Feel free to ask away in the comments below, or on my Instagram or Facebook pages. The next blog post will show the next schedule I used, starting the following week. That will become the master schedule we will use for the rest of the year.
I also just uploaded editable schedules (they are MS Word documents, but can be opened in Google Docs as well) in my TpT store in case that will help you get started.
Ready to move on? Here are other blog posts in this series:
Post #1: Interruptions in your Schedule
Post #2: Schedules for the first and second day of school.
Post #3: Master Rotation Schedule, and What Adults do
Post #4: Schedule/lesson plans for when you need a substitute teacher.
Post #5: Eight More Schedules
Post #6: Questions and answers about my Schedules (including activities and curriculum I’ve used in my self-contained multi-grade class).
You might also like:
Five Time-Saving Tips for New Special Ed Teachers
How to do Morning Meetings/Calendar time in a Multi-Grade Self-Contained Class.