Welcome to my High School Special Ed classroom!
Before we begin the classroom tour, I do have a quick disclaimer. I have been blessed to have, what we refer to, as “The EC (exceptional children) Wing.” We technically have 2 special education classrooms – 1 academic and 1 Life Skills room, as well as a courtyard. I have never had this kind of space before, and probably never will again, if I were to relocate. We take full advantage of this area, and I hope every reader will get some ideas for your own special education classroom set-up from what you see today. Enjoy the tour!
Special Education Academic Classroom Tour
This is the first year that we’ve had individual desks in our classroom. In the past we’ve had tables which we staged into a U-shape, because I like having everyone closer together. It not only helps with group work, but also encourages student interaction and sharing. They’re also easy to rearrange when needed. Of course there are drawbacks to having such close interaction, but tables are still my preference.
We spend much of our academic time at the front of the classroom, which is where we do our morning calendar, virtual Special Olympics meets, and academic lessons. However, we do take quite a few movement breaks during the day, and the back of our classroom is the perfect set-up for physical and sensory activities. We also have an entire shelf dedicated to movement activities, which allows the students to participate in bowling, hopscotch, playing with a variety of squishy balls, and even lightweight “snowballs” which they love using for classroom snowball fights. We set a timer for 10-minutes before every activity break, and it seems to be the perfect amount of time for our students to get their energy out, before they’re ready to work again.
Each student has a file folder velcroed to their desk, which holds their daily work, or work they have to complete. However, after they have completed their assignments, we have two areas set-up for them to return their work. When our class was smaller, everyone was assigned their own color, and they had a coordinating basket to return their finish work. However, as our class continues to grow, we’re running out of colors, so we have reverted to names or symbols, depending on each student’s ability level.
We also have an independent work area, which consists of task boxes and file folder games. These are color coordinated, according to the different academic levels. Our students love to work on these, and we switch them out every 6-weeks or so.
As large as our classroom is, we don’t have a ton of wall space. For that reason, we take advantage of our doors. We use the back door for our Word Wall, and the closet doors to hold visual icons. The students are able to match-up the monthly vocabulary words on our Word Wall, and it was super simple to set-up. All you need is Velcro!
Most of our students have some type of visual schedule, choice board and/or communication board that is used daily. Sometimes we need to find a visual icon quickly, so instead of packing them away, we have them in a spot that we can grab instantly.
Finally, our classroom has an area where we can display student work and art projects. All we did was hang fishing line in front of our windows, and we clip everything on with clothes pins. The kids love to show-off their work, and this is a simple way to do that.
Special Education Life Skills Classroom Tour
Next door we have our Life Skills classroom. This area is a multi-purpose room, which houses our school food/clothes pantry as well as all of our household appliances.
When you first walk in, the food pantry is set-up to your left. We spend a lot of time in this area teaching our students how to stock shelves, sort and rotate food, load shopping bags, and other job skills.
We also have an area with school supplies and clothing that our students keep organized. It’s their job to ensure that all the clothing is folded and placed on the correct shelf, according to sizes. Our students also check the bins to let us know if we are getting low on certain items.
Every week we cook, so our class has a refrigerator (garage sale), convection stovetop (grant), microwave (grant), and crock-pot (donation). We also have cookware and table settings (grant). The kids love to cook, and we use easy-to-follow recipes with visuals.
Finally, we have a washer & dryer which we use on a daily basis. Not only do we have our students wash their soiled clothes (w/ our supervision, of course), but we help out our sports teams by assisting in uniform washing. Our students LOVE to wash the uniforms. Not only do they learn how to use the washer and dryer, and how to fold clothes, but it makes them feel like they’re part of the school community. The sports teams come visit us on a regular basis, and our students really enjoy delivering the uniforms back to the coaches. It’s a win-win situation for all parties involved!
I hope you enjoyed the tour of my classroom. We stay busy but have a good time. Any questions? Leave them below!