My Daily Schedule for my Multiple Disabilities Classroom

The following is a typical daily schedule for my Multiple Disabilities Classroom.  This year I will be teaching Special Needs Preschool so my schedule will be quite different. 

As most of you know I was an elementary administrator from 1999 to 2010. 

When I re-entered the teaching world in the fall of 2010 and found I would have a classroom of up to eight Kindergarten students with multiple disabilities and  two assistants, I decided that I wanted the classroom to be more “center-based” than what I had when I taught in the 90’s.  As most of you know I was an elementary administrator from 1999 to 2010. 

However, last year it was not possible.  My students were not ready for it.  I spent the first half of the year teaching basic directions.  I had two students who were totally non-verbal and knew no signs or picture symbols at the beginning of the year.  I had two students who were verbal.  And there were three students who had very limited speech (between 2 and 20 words at the beginning of the year).  In addition to the communication issues, there were behavior challenges and very low academic skills.

I have never had a student whom I considered “one on one” with until this year.  We had one young man who was truly “one on one” so again that made things challenging.

So most of the year, I had a very basic schedule.  I try to stick to a routine, but unlike most classrooms with students with autism, I do not follow it exactly the same every day.  If you’ve read my previous postings, I think “outside of the box” and frequently teach lessons on a whim. They are often times my best lessons. 

Content Areas – I integrated the content areas “Reading, Writing, Math, Social Studies and Science” into this basic daily schedule.  When I first started teaching, MD classes were largely using only “functional” curriculums.  This has changed, and I think it should.  We need to base our lessons on grade level objectives.  Yes, we have to modify and adapt, sometimes a lot, but I remember a time when Special Education teachers didn’t even know what was in the regular curriculum.  (I was one of them until I got involved in a school-wide grant project).

There are many things I left out of this basic schedule.  We went to the Metropolitan library every Tuesday morning for story time (it was two blocks away).  We went on walks in the neighborhood when weather permitted, especially in the fall before we got a student which made it rather difficult.  We also had Art one semester and Music once a week.  In addition we had Occupational, Physical and Speech and Language Therapy which were most often done in the classroom.

I plan to do posts on the following topics in more detail over the next couple of weeks: 

  • Eagle Books (Parent Communication Notebooks)
  • Posting and reviewing a daily schedule
  • Morning Work/seatwork Ideas
  • Circle Time Activities
  • Gross Motor, Fine Motor and Sensory Activities
  • Sensory Bins
  • Music Math
  • Exercise Ideas
  • Teaching Children how to play
  • Teaching Routines and Procedures

Here is my basic schedule for last school year:

8:15 – Teacher and assistant arrival.  Set up classroom.

8:40 – Assistants to bus area.

9:00 – Coats, bookbags, Eagle books (Parent communication notebooks)

9:05 – Breakfast in classroom – We were hoping to eat breakfast and lunch in the lunchroom next year.

During breakfast, I try to begin our day.  At the beginning of the 2010 school year, I taught a lesson during breakfast because it was about the only time I could get the students to focus on me.  Its during this time that I also “sing the schedule” and review our activities for the day.  I also review our behavior plan and goals.  I am usually running around the classroom getting things ready at this time, as well as reading parent communication notebooks.  My students got used to this.  Fortunately I had two assistants who were able to assist with breakfast.

9:35 – Restroom break

9:30 – “Morning Work” Folders at desks – It took us several months before we were ready to work at desks.   I have always found it best to give any papers I want the students to do first thing in the morning.  I give very few worksheets, but if I do they are usually writing, such as tracing, coloring, name-writing and onto basic writing, math and so forth.   

9:50 –   Morning Circle Time – Incorporates all subjects and varies daily but always includes:

  1.  Exercise with music
  2. Daily name recognition and sign-in
  3. Lunch Choice
  4. Songs and finger plays
  5. Read Aloud

(Assistant One – 15 minute break during this time)

Other things circle time might include are:  calendar skills, felt board or Boardmaker activities, lessons on various subjects, obstacle courses in the classroom and more.

10:30 – Recess (we went out by ourselves 15 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes in the afternoon because my students had a very hard time sitting still for very long at all – even though my classroom is very active)

10:45 – Restroom and “juice snack” – My students drank their juice from breakfast at this time. 

11:00 – We called this “Group Time” and included Gross, Fine Motor and Sensory Activities combined with pre-academic skills.  This is also the time when three third grade peer mentors came over to join our “group time” activities.  This is also the time of day when Assistant Two goes to lunch for 45 minutes so the activities had to be fairly controlled. 

At the beginning of the year, we changed activities about every five minutes.  By the end of the year we could do a 30 minute activity.

Group Activity Examples – Art activities, play doh, sensory bins, obstacle courses, dancing and singing, A read aloud with a follow-up activity and so forth.

11:45 – Restroom and morning “reward.”  Toward the end of the year, I started giving a reward at the end of the morning and afternoon for everyone who was on “green” – we only have green or red – I’ll get to that later.  Usually it was mini-trampoline, vestibular swing or one of our favorite finger plays to act out “Ten in the Bed.”

12:00 – Lunch in the classroom – My lunch (30-45 minutes)

12:30 – Educational video, independent books at desks, and restroom.

12:45 – “Music Math” Group – This became a very challenging time of day for us.  Assistant Two went to lunch (12:45 to 1:30) and I tried a lot of different activities to keep the children interested in Math.    I started using the “Super Simple Songs” CD’s to teach math skills and the children loved it!  We sat at one big table and it worked well.

1:30 – Exercise – On Mondays and Wednesdays we had Adapted P.E. at this time.   On Tuesdays and Thursdays we did physical activity of our own.  We love the “Move N Groove” video or I would come up with exercises of my own.

2:00 – Recess

2:15 –  Snack

Assistant One goes on afternoon break

2:30 –  Play time and clean up – At the end of the day the students who have been on “green” in the afternoon are permitted (I should say encouraged because I believe so strongly in play) to play with toys.  I keep bins of toys and they rotate.  The children just “dump” them on the carpet and play.  We had to teach them how to play.  They had no idea how to play at the beginning of the year.

Monday – farm animals and barns

Tuesday – baby dolls and kitchen set (housekeeping)

Wednesday – cars, gas stations and the like

Thursday – musical toys – we do these all on one day – Drives us crazy but the kids love it.

Friday – Blocks or something different I bring in to share.

3:00 – Clean up and teacher does communication notebooks – The t.v. is on for a few minutes at the end of the day.  At the beginning of this school year, they wouldn’t even watch t.v. so the fact they’ll watch it for a few minutes is a blessing at times.

3:25 – Busses – I had to help get the children to the busses because we had some who were uncooperative.

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2 Responses to My Daily Schedule for my Multiple Disabilities Classroom

  1. Maria Smith says:

    A good information!

    Karen,
    Because you’ve been an administrator, I was wondering if you know what I should do to get a special education teaching job without a reference letter from my former supervisor/administrator. I have positive references from co-workers and college professors/mentors who know my contributions to my students and their success when being my students. I am legally certified by the State to teach special ed.

    For 2 years, I have applied in many places but have not received any response except for a place that gave me an interview but then rejected me after they contacted my former supervisor.

    Hope to hear from you.
    Thank you.
    Maria

    • kwhiting644 says:

      Maria – Tricky Question. I don’t know if you have read my entire series on getting a job. There are some ideas in there. Here are some possible pointers:
      1. Do you know the reason your former supervisor would not give you a positive reference? If you do, I would do something which would show you have taken positive steps to improve in this area? For instance, if it’s classroom management, you could take classes in classroom management, work with a mentor teacher, perhaps in a volunteer situation to learn skills on classroom management, and get positive references related to that area specifically.
      2. When you interview, be upfront. Say “I am going to be honest with you. I do not have a positive recommendation from my former supervisor, but I do have positive recommendations from x,y and z. I did everything I could in the position and we had a personality conflict. I have worked to overcome the problems I had in that job, and so forth.” Then give concrete examples of how you have done so.
      3. In order to get an interview, you need to be working and making contacts every single day. You need to get into a school system somehow. One of my readers suggested as an instructional assistant which I think is better idea than a substitute teacher. Substituting can be very hard and one bad day can lead to a bad recommendation. On the other hand, as an assistant, you can learn a lot and have the opportunity to meet a lot of people. When a teaching position comes open, they will think of you first.
      4. I don’t know what state you are in. Consider taking a job in a large, urban setting. They always need teachers, especially multiple disabilitites teachers. It sounds way more difficult than it actually is. If you’re a special needs teacher, and can deal with issues related to poverty, it’s a good opportunity. You can make a pretty decent living and if you don’t like it, you can always move to another area after you gain some valuable experience.
      5. Continue to network – both in person and online. Don’t rely on resumes to do much of anything. Look the part of a teacher wherever you go and tell everyone you meet you are looking for a job as a teacher. You never know who you will meet.
      6. If you do submit resumes, try to hand them to the person who receives them in person, even it means driving a little bit. Even if you only hand them to the secretary, she will remember you. Make a good impression.
      7. It’s a gutsy move, but consider going back to the former supervisor and asking what you could have done differently to get a positive letter of reference. Show him what you have done since that time. Tell him you would like to volunteer to showcase your newly acquired skills. What’s the worse that can happen? The best that could happen is a prospective employer calls him and he says “She had some issues when she was here but she came back to see me and I understand that since that time, she has made a lot of growth. She showed a lot of growth and maturity since she was here before.”
      Hope this helps.

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