If you are anything like me, the first 10 days are a struggle. You have so many new ideas for the new year, so many things you want to implement, and you feel pressure to start on the very first day.
Here’s my number one tip: DON’T.
In special education, and more specifically the self contained setting, what our kids really need is STRUCTURE. Of course you have tons of structure planned and you want to follow the schedule from the start in order to best show them what daily expectations are….((is that what you are thinking?))
I PROMISE you, your first month of school will go a lot smoother if you take the time to teach the structure and train students on routines FIRST. (+ I mean EXPLICITLY teach the setup of your classroom)
How do I do this? With a structured plan of course.
In the beginning of the year, I teach my students the social lessons, routines, and structure of the classroom needed to be successful all year long. Without explicitly teaching these things, I always feel like I am continuing to teach routines even in December, when things should be properly established.
We take our time easing into the school year. As each routine comes up, I teach it naturally.
First, we walk through the routine. I have the visuals laminated and velcroed to a paint stick in order. I point to the visual and the students complete the routine.
After practicing a few times, students go back to their tables to complete this cut and paste activity. We glue the routines in order in our routine book. We go over the answers, write them on the white board, and check our answers with a friend. We use these books to refer to all week after we practice the routines.
Another simple activity we do each day (usually during centers to keep the workload simple) is a page in our All About Me book. Each page has visual picture responses and also leave space for the student to draw pictures, cut things out of magazines, write or do anything they want to answer the prompt! At the end of the 10 days we share our books with teachers and friends (and sometimes we present them during morning meeting in our inclusion classes!)
Each day our plan includes a social story. We use the full page social stories to read as a class on the white board. Then we read the smaller book (laminate for whole group or print each student a stapled copy) and complete the comprehension sheet that goes along with it. Usually the topic comes up each day of back to school season and we are able to refer to our book.
We have 3 levels of comprehension sheets, this way each student in my class can participate, no matter what their academic level is.
We complete these worksheets in our centers. Some students are able to refer to the whole page social story on the board, while other students need the smaller book to reread and use as a reference.
Another fun way we learn the classroom structure, is learning where things are in our school and classroom. Even if your students have been in your class or building before, things change each year! Using these fun symbol supported scavenger hunts will build their independence later when they know where everything is!
Vocabulary is HUGE. And while I love my Board Maker Vocabulary Units, we don’t start those just yet. First we teach the basic back to school words. Do my students know these words? of course. Especially those who have been to school before. I mainly use this lesson to model how lessons will take place, and how to socially act during lessons, and follow the expected routines. There are so many opportunities to practice basic things during a SIMPLE lesson ( where are the crayons? Raising your hand to ask a question, staying seated, taking turns, waiting… the list goes on.
Of course what’s a couple weeks of plans without cooking? We practice cooking with simple cooking lessons in order to practice the rules and routines of cooking first!
The beginning of the year is not about introducing new material. It is about establishing these routines and behaviors so students know what is expected as we dive into more difficult content throughout the school year. Of course we will challenge our students, but just give them 10 days of routine first!
Grab The First Ten Days here!
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Adriana Zoey says
Thank you so much for showing your view points. I’ll focus on these for my daughter.
Is the first 20 days if school going in sale anytime soon?
Hi Toni! I follow the TPT sitewide sales! We don’t know when they are until a couple days before- but because there was one recently I’m not expecting one soon!