One of the most difficult parts of setting up your classroom is creating your classroom schedule. I’ve been teaching for 15 years, and I can tell you that I have never used the same schedule twice. I’m always making changes to it! I can also say that our classroom schedule at the beginning of the year is never the same as the schedule at the end. As Special Education teachers, we’re constantly adapting to changes, so being flexible about making schedule changes is a priority. Below I’m going show you a sample of my high school classroom schedule. I hope it helps and gives you ideas for your classroom.
If you want to see inside my classroom, view this blog.
Morning Classroom Schedule
Our mornings are very busy. We get a lot done, in what I consider to be a short amount of time. I’m always feeling like the morning just fly by for us. In the past, I had trouble staying on schedule, so I now use visual timers. They help us all stay on track, and they also seem to help the students stay focused on the lesson or activity. I like to display the time on the corner of our whiteboard, and the students really like the timers on the Online Stopwatch website. You can check it out here.
7:30am – 9:15am
Our day starts at 7:30am, when the bus drops off the majority of our students. We typically walk everyone to the cafeteria to eat breakfast, but this year we’ve had to eat breakfast in our classroom. We usually try to drag out breakfast until 8:10ish, because we want to make sure that all our students (including those who get dropped off) are able to be fed.
Breakfast is followed by our Calendar time (aka Morning Meeting). We do much of our calendar time on the smartboard, and I make sure that everyone has a chance to get up and participate. At the same time, our students each have individual binders that they work on at their desk when someone else is working up front. This helps to keep them from getting too fidgety. Plus, each binder is personalized according to each child’s IEP goals, so this helps us with tracking data.
We end with a short 10-minute movement break. This helps get the students up and moving, and it helps me prepare for our next activity.
9:15am – 11:00am
After our calendar time, we go right into our “Arts & Crafts” block. When I’m planning assignments for this time, I always make sure that every activity we do correlates with whatever the academic theme is for the month. For example, this month is about plants and their life cycle, and we have drawn plants and labeled the different parts, we’ve planted plants, and we’ve done science experiments with celery and potatoes. I try to make this time fun, but also relevant. Plus, I always try to make sure that every activity includes an academic component in it.
After our Arts block, we separate into 3 different groups and work on math lessons. I lead one group, and the other two groups are led by 2 of my Teacher Assistant’s. We keep this short but sweet (20-30 minutes max), and as interactive as possible. I don’t allow the use of the ipads or any other electronic devices during this time, because it is too much of a distraction.
Math Group is followed by a 20-minute snack break. We go to our life skills classroom next door to eat. This helps us get a change of scenery and some walking.
After snack, we go back into our classroom and (virtually) participate in Special Olympics workout activities. If it were any other year, we’d be in the gym at this time, but we’re under a lot more restrictions this year, so we are making things work as best we can. The kids love PE and all the activities. We always end with a dance party, which is their absolute favorite.
Early Afternoon Classroom Sample Schedule
Our early afternoon schedule is focused more on academics. I would prefer to get all of our academic blocks done before lunch, but that wasn’t possible this year. I had to work my class schedule around Speech, PT, OT, PE, etc., so in order to ensure that each student was getting exposed to every subject, I spread it out a little more this year.
11:00am – 12:35pm
During this hour, we divide up into our groups again, and work on writing, reading, and history or science. The students rotate every 20-30 minutes, and we also include a 10-minute movement break during this time.
Group work is followed by lunch, where we once again, go to the Life skills room to eat. Due to the various functions of our job, we don’t actually get our own lunch or planning time. However, it hasn’t really been a huge issue this year, and the kids don’t mind hanging out with us, either.
12:40pm – 1:30pm
After lunch, we always take some time to work on our garden and food pantry. Sometimes we split into two groups, and half go outside to water the garden and pull weeds, while the other half make sure the pantry is organized. Sometimes these jobs take up the entire hour time span, but if we finish early, we will let the kids have free choice until we begin our next block.
Late Afternoon Classroom Sample Schedule
We spend the late afternoon winding down and preparing for the end of the day. I also give the students the opportunity to earn some ipad time for the last 30 minutes of the day.
1:30pm – 2:30pm
The curriculum we use (N2Y) has a life skills component, so we work on those lessons during this time. Depending on the topic, I may split our classroom into a couple of groups. Some of them will work on a life skills lessons online, while others will work in a group with me.
I like to spend the last 30 minutes of the day pulling kids one-by-one to work on benchmarks. My TA’s usually spend this time monitoring the other students who are working individually with ipads or other ativities of their choices. I try to work individually with 2 students a day, this way I get data on all of them by the end of the week.
2:30 – 3:00
We spend the last 30 minutes of the day making sure everyone is cleaned up and ready to go. I also take the time to write a quick excerpt into each of their home folders just so the parents get an idea of how their day went. While I’m doing that, the students pick up their areas, and make sure everything is put away, and my TA’s assist with that. We then split into two groups – bus riders and car riders and go our own ways.
3:00pm – 3:30pm
After the kids have gone home, we spend out time sanitizing our classroom and getting everything ready for the next day. I’ll also work on paperwork or attend meetings during this time.
It’s a busy day, and I usually walk out exhausted, but having a schedule really helps keep everyone on task.