If you’re self-contained classroom and caseload is anything like mine than building a schedule can feel impossible. Juggling students general education minutes, related services, specials, recess, and lunch time can be tedious. But, after a few years together, my co-teacher and I have some tips and tricks to ensure your students receive their minutes, services, and a well-rounded day at school!
To begin building a schedule in my k-6 self-contained classroom, my co-teacher and I start by looking at the whole-school master class roster. We build our self-contained schedule around the general education environment. Specifically, we make sure each student goes to specials and recess with their same aged-peers. First, we compile a list of the classroom teachers that have our students, and send them a similar email to the one shown above. After sending the above email, we go to each classroom teacher individually and touch base about any equipment they may need, collaboration times, and answer any general questions they have!
Building the Schedule
After sending a general email to the classroom teachers and confirming specials and recess times, we begin making individual schedules. Because of the number of full-time staff in the classroom ( 2 teachers, 6 paraprofessionals, 2 nurses, 1 CNA), it is helpful to have individual staff schedules that specify which students they are working with. We have a 2 students : 1 staff ratio during most times of the day.
Morning meeting is one of our favorite times of day! During this time all students are scheduled to be in our classroom. We do a variation of the same meeting everyday. We begin with our group expectations, illustrated above. Introducing group expectations to morning meeting has helped my students stay engaged, increased participation, and is an opportunity to generalize other school expectations such as hallway and assembly expectations.
Morning meeting is presented on our classroom smart-board. To increase participation throughout morning meeting and the day we use visuals, shown above. Laminated visuals help my students make choices and answer questions. Particularly in morning meeting, the above visuals help us answer the day of the week, month of the year, weather, date, and student attendance. Staff use these visuals in the general education environment to help modify work.
We have two sets of scheduled rotations everyday. Depending on individual student schedules, not all students are in the classroom during rotations. Our morning rotations, shown above as “A Rotations” are more academically aligned to our theme. We always schedule a rotation of bathroom, a toy rotation (shown above as “racetrack”), a physical therapy rotation, a craft (shown above as “painting with cars”), and a book-box (shown above as “X”). The afternoon rotations, shown above as “B Rotations”, are recreation and leisure and sensory based depending on the theme. During rotations the classroom staff rotate around 5 tables of students. Examples of rotations activities are shown below.
During rotations, we schedule a variety of activities that target their individual IEP goals, student interests, and bi-weekly themes. For example, many of my students have IEP goals to independently engage in preferred toys for various amounts of time. Additionally, some students have number identification goals. Activities such as following a recipe help to reinforce those goals, and are lots of fun!