As we inch closer to the start of the new school year I start thinking about how I am going to set up schedules for my students. If you teach special education, you know that there is rarely a one size approach to anything. Creating student visuals isn’t any different. What is important is that each student have a schedule and that the schedule is useful for them and consistent. Schedules are a great way to let students know what they can expect of their day and when various tasks will happen. Let’s talk about setting up visual schedules in the multiple disabilities classroom.
Plan Your Master Schedule
The first thing you want to do is plan your master schedule. What is the general outlook of your day? Your students will have therapies and inclusion throughout the day. At the beginning of the school year you won’t know when your students have visits from speech, OT, physical therapy, VI, and the HI teacher. That’s absolutely alright! Start with what you know, which is the way you want your day to generally go.
I use this schedule set up that Alyssa created every year and it works great! I love that everyone knows the general flow of the day with just a quick glance. Whole group schedules are for everyone. I use picture symbols from Lessonpix, but all of this set actually comes with a full set of pictures symbols.
Think About Your Students
Each student is different and their schedule will probably need to reflect that. If your student has a visual impairment they will need a different type of schedule than a student that does not have a visual impairment. Some students may only be able to view a couple tasks at a time while some can look at an entire schedule. I get to keep my students for several years, so I usually know what my students need in this area. But when I get a new student I ask their previous teacher and use their IEP to help guide me. We can always make changes later.
Some of your students may have visual impairments that require tactile schedules and somes students may need objects instead of picture symbols. Tactile schedules are a great way to meet both of those needs. I have a post showing how I make tactile schedule pieces and I how use these types of schedules here.
Vertical schedule are great because a student can see exactly what happens next and each item is removed until there is nothing left. A lot of my students use a strip schedule each year. When I make them I make sure to keep in mind how many items a student can have visible at once without the schedule becoming overwhelming and what size picture card they need. Some students may need 3 inch cards and others can use 2 inch cards without any issues. I actually use this blogpost here to learn how to make these schedules.
These are great for students that are transitioning a lot or are ready to have everything in one place. I really love these and I’m always excited when a student graduates to this type of schedule. I keep all of their tokens and picture symbols in the binder as well. Alyssa writes about creating these here.
Do You Use All of These at Once?
Yes! Some students need a wall schedule, object schedule, less symbols, larger symbols, or some combination of those options. This year I’ll have a mixture of wall schedules, tactile schedules, and one binder schedule. That’s okay! Each student gets the type of schedule they need in a format that makes sense to them and each schedule is a reflection of our whole group schedule and their therapies. The procedure for each schedule is mostly the same and we practice using them from the first day of school onward. It’s just part of our routine.
Everyone does this a little bit differently and this is just how I go about setting up visual schedules in the multiple disabilities classroom. I’ll make sure to show my classes schedules as soon as I can. I’m very lucky to get all new furniture this year, so I have about another week before I can go to my classroom and start setting everything up. I hope this helps you when you sit down to plan out your schedules this year!
Need more help with schedules?
Alyssa teaches schedules and classroom setup inside her online course for self-contained teachers Simple Self-Contained Setup 101® . Join the waitlist today!