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Setting the Stage for Back to School Success!

Setting the Stage for Back to School Success!

The start of the year is intimidating. Whether you are a first year teacher or a tenth year teacher, there is a lot of pressure on those first few weeks of the school year. You want to clarify your expectations. You want to be firm but fun. You want to outline your rules but not be boring. This is tricky in any classroom but in a room full of students who have a wide range of needs – low receptive language, nonverbal, extreme behaviors, trouble with changes, etc. etc. etc. – saying it’s a challenge may just be an... read more
Setting Up Your Data Systems

Setting Up Your Data Systems

It’s back to school season and back to school time means classroom setup. While we often think so much about the physical setup of the classroom – let’s get a little deeper. Yes, it is very important where those bookshelves are placed and exactly where desks are located but it’s just as important what is in those bookshelves and desks. Data systems are likely to be located in those bookshelves and it’s best to get those rolling as quickly as possible. View this task as part of your back to school process. Come mid-fall when things are crazy busy... read more
Training Your Paraprofessionals

Training Your Paraprofessionals

For some reason one of the most important and impactful components of our classrooms gets quickly pushed to the very, very bottom of out every growing to do list. The start of the school year is BUSY. We are worrying about setting up our classrooms, getting data systems rolling, implementing behavior systems, and putting up our keeping-up-with-jones bulletin boards. Actually, let’s be real. In the start of the school year we are worried about just making it through the day alive and not losing a child. The thing we don’t think about is training our classroom assistants. We are... read more
Scheduling Tips!

Scheduling Tips!

As we start back to school I think one of the biggest challenges as clinicians is making a schedule!!!  With multiple schools, high caseloads, and a wide range of grades; scheduling can be very difficult.  Here are some tips which have helped me over the years when I begin to make my speech-language therapy schedule at the beginning of the school year. If you have multiple schools first figure out what days you are at each school before you begin to schedule with teachers.  I ask the principal or assistance principal at each school for a master schedule so... read more
Must-Have Forms & Templates {the key to staying organized year round}

Must-Have Forms & Templates {the key to staying organized year round}

When we think about back to school, we tend to focus on the big ticket items – the physical structure and schedules. But I encourage you to add one more super important component to this must-do list: organization. You have got to set up a system for all the paperwork. Because, let’s be honest if you don’t do it now – you won’t do it ever. Because what starts as a seemingly innocent stack of papers quickly turns into a massive mountain that you are embarrassingly shoving into drawers and closets. The start of the school year is paperwork city! You... read more
Surviving Your First Week of School

Surviving Your First Week of School

I have gotten a ton of emails lately about the first week of school. I can almost hear the nervousness through carefully worded questions. Let’s just admit it – it’s scary. Actually – it’s super freaken scary. Vaguely terrifying actually. First year teacher or not – those start of the year jitters never really go away. So let’s talk about how to not only get through the first week of school but make it worth it. Let’s go beyond just getting through it. Let the first week set you up for a successful year. The first week will lay... read more
Year Long Resource: Leveled Homework

Year Long Resource: Leveled Homework

Special Education Teachers are busy. We have IEPs, lesson plans, behavior plans, staff training, staff meetings, parent meetings, parent communication, communication systems, AAC devices, clinician collaboration, case managers, and once in a blue moon we may need to use the bathroom. The absolute last thing on our radar is homework. We are elbow deep in the craziness of back to school season and some well- meaning but not well-received parent asks when we are planning on starting to send homework home. The first time I got that message, I’m pretty sure I sobbed. As a new teacher, I could... read more
Year Long Resources: Math Leveled Daily Curriculum

Year Long Resources: Math Leveled Daily Curriculum

On Monday, I shared my Language Arts Leveled Daily Curriculum. Where there is language arts – math is always around the corner! This Math Leveled Daily Curriculum is structured, visually based, utilizes data-based decision making, and lasts the entire year. Knowing that my math planning is done for the entire year is a feeling beyond stress relief! I will be taking a maternity leave this year and having this curriculum ready to rock and roll will make planning a breeze! Check out the structure and setup of this resource: This slideshow requires JavaScript.   There are 3 levels based on... read more
Year Long Resources: Leveled Daily Work

Year Long Resources: Leveled Daily Work

Last year, I got my first full year of using my Leveled Daily Work under my belt. It sparked my obsession with year long resources because having this resource ready to go all of last year was honestly life changing for my planning and classroom management. How it Works: For each level – there is a worksheet for student responses. The worksheet stays the same each day. Ie. you can make a crap-ton of photo copies at the start of the year and be set for a long time! There are 180 daily work pages that students will use... read more
Year Long Resources: Language Arts Curriculum

Year Long Resources: Language Arts Curriculum

The start of the year is stressful. We have so freaken much to do that it’s hard to even get started because the pile of work is so monumental. As special education teachers, we don’t have a preset curriculum to follow. There is no perfect set of textbooks or workbooks that fits the needs for our diverse caseloads. So on top of the classroom setup, bulletin boards, organization, and everything else we have somehow got to figure out what the heck our kids will be doing all year. By the time I’ve finalize schedules, routines, and behavior plans – it’s... read more

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Setting Up a an Easy-to-Use Program Binder

Setting Up a an Easy-to-Use Program Binder

A program binder will guide your instruction and help you keep track of both academic and behavioral data. However, there is a lot that needs to go into one binder and the organization can be challenging. If you have a high-needs student, you cannot waste time trying to find the right page or clarify what you are working on. In those critical few seconds of searching through pages, your kid is gone. You need a system that is easy to use so you can keep up with your student! There are a few keys to creating this efficient and... read more
Classroom Schedules

Classroom Schedules

You need loads of schedules for your class. I have schedules coming out of my ears. You need a student detailed schedule, an adult detailed schedule, and schedules for your students. You should have a schedule for each child in your classroom. Just do it. Don’t argue. Even if you “think” they “know” what they should do. Assumptions like that will cause a big headache later. If your boss never gave you a schedule with your days off or holidays etc. – you’d be pissed. You want to know what is happening and when. So do our kids. I... read more
Ultimate Guided Reading Resource for Special Education

Ultimate Guided Reading Resource for Special Education

I made this massive resource a few weeks ago but haven’t had a chance to post about it yet! I absolutely love teaching reading. I think literacy for children with autism is an extremely under-researched area with very limited supports, curriculum, and resources. That being said – I also think that teaching children with autism to read is possible! Reading instruction for children with autism is successful when using the same strategies that we know are successful with our students: visuals, structure, and routine. I do guided reading in my classroom when teaching reading. Guided reading is small group... read more
FAQ: Dealing with Aggression

FAQ: Dealing with Aggression

Welcome to a week long (or more!) set of posts dedicated to your frequently asked questions. I pulled these reoccurring themes from emails, comments, and facebook. If a bunch of people have the same concern – there are probably more of you too! Figured I’d start with a bang – literally – how to deal with aggression. Aggression is hands down the most critical, important, and time sensitive issue to deal with in your classroom1 Because let’s be honest – it doesn’t matter how organized you are, what math curriculum you are using, how you are charting your data... read more
Life Skills Room

Life Skills Room

The Life Skills Room is one of those things that has been looming near the bottom of my to do list for weeks now. We had partially set it up – enough for some of our kids to use on a daily basis – but it wasn’t set up to my OCD like standards. We still had to make a new schedules, new numbers, and update a few visuals. Well – needless to say it FINALLY got done!   What is it? The Life Skills Room is a small supplementary classroom that another teacher and I use to work on... read more