I have been getting lots of questions surrounding the first week and month of school! Many teachers think they have to have EVERYTHING prepped, ready, and planned all by the first day. I AM NEVER THAT TEACHER. I never have everything prepped, and I am ALWAYS learning as I go.
How can I be successful without being fully prepped? I am prepping my students for the YEAR, instead of prepping them for the academics of this minute.
Here is my pain free system for the first month of school! I STICK to the focus of each week during the first month, to set my students up for success!
The first week of school is crucial. You may have new staff and new students. I take the ENTIRE FIRST WEEK to teach routines & rewards. (you are teaching STAFF too) This is SO IMPORTANT. How can your students be successful if they don’t know the routine? Why would they work if they don’t know the rewards?
We run through each center and through their schedule, as a normal day would. But during each block, I DO NOT CHALLENGE them. I give them work I KNOW they can be successful with…. which limits behaviors, and teaches them how it feels to earn rewards right from the start.
Of course, you may not know the kids yet, but the IEPs should give you the basic idea of what they CAN do. Whether it be a puzzle, a put in task, or an addition worksheet, give your students something they CAN do that relates to the block on the schedule. SHOW them how to earn tokens or rewards in your classroom, reiterate all rules, and give POSITIVE REINFORCEMENT ALL DAY. They just may be learning you too! Stay firm, but begin building those relationships.
The second week of school is all about assessment for us. No matter if I know the kids or not, I reassess them on EVERYTHING.
I check their sight word knowledge, I give them more challenging worksheets to see what they can do, and I give the ABLLS-R to all my students, so I know where they are now (and can track how they are doing by IEP time!) I also begin taking more intensive behavior data, social skills data, and leisure skills data this week so that staff can begin to build programs that are appropriate. I also do preference assessments for rewards this week.
On the third week, we really get heavy into academics. I begin tracking IEP goals, pushing kids into inclusion more (as appropriate) and really challenging the kids.
This is where I start intensive data taking on all skills. Because I start challenging them, this is where I see the most behaviors. If you have taught your rewards systems well, your kids will know what is needed to earn the reward, and you can keep reinforcing that.
The fourth week of school, I really have staff back down on over prompting. We have to prompt our kids through the routines, schedules, and activities ALOT during the first couple of weeks, but as time goes on, you will be surprised how quickly your kids will know their routines.
Let them try them on their own, and convince staff to BACK OFF to allow them to build their independence. It makes it so much easier on you once they are independent in routines!
YOU DID IT! After the first four weeks at school, you will start to feel settled. If you implement this system of four week setup, you will feel like your kids KNOW their routines, and you have time to PREP the materials they need for academics! Just remember to STICK to the focus of the week, and not to stress out about what is to come.
Next week I will start showing you the areas of my NEW classroom, how I implement all my different centers, and how I hold my kids accountable every day, no matter what their level!