Happy Friday! I am excited to introduce you to a new member of our team who will be sharing some of her creative ideas and strategies! Holly was my mentee several years ago when she transitioned from a resource room special education teacher to a self-contained special education teacher. Holly had an extremely challenging caseload her first year and my interns and I helped Holly setup behavior plans, ABLLS organization, and staff training protocols. Holly survived (and excelled!) her first few years dealing with similar obstacles that many of us face in the classroom on a regular basis like constant staff changes, new students mid-year, major behavioral episodes, and lack of classroom assistants. The hard work pays off because Holly’s classroom is doing great and she has so many great ideas that I can’t wait for her to share with you. I’ve already had been sharing her setup for data sheets, behavior visual organization, and independent work system over the last few months so you may recognize some of the pictures! She will be sharing her tips for using the ABLLS, how she uses the Leveled Daily Curriculum, and more! Today Holly is sharing how she sets up a one-on-one student work area for one of her students who recently was given a dedicated paraprofessional. Welcome, Holly!

Sasha Long

1. Keep it simple.

Chances are, if a student needs a one-on-one aide, that student needs lots of repetitive practice…so don’t be afraid to keep it simple. Only have a few different types of activities so the student gets used to working independently. The student in my classroom has the following activities on his schedule:

Binder -This is a tower of 8 drawers with one binder in each drawer. These binders have simple matching/sorting Velcro activities, but you can adjust the level of the binders in these drawers to meet your student’s needs. The student will match their schedule tag to one of the drawers and take it out of the cart.

Work Station -I just took this schedule tag from a station I already had in my classroom. At this station, my student is working on fine motor skills (e.g. coloring, tracing).

Factory – Factory is a larger scale sorting task that can be adjusted based on the student’s level and needs.

Folders -This is pretty much identical to the binder station, except the work is in file folders. I have it separated from the binder station so my student does not get confused.

Bins -Bins are what I call the three-drawer system in my room. Again, whatever is in these work drawers can be tailored to the individual student needs.

2. Location, Location, Location

Designate an area in your classroom for your student and their aide. This can be a challenge, given we don’t always get to choose our spaces (I spend a year in a teeny, tiny tutor room under the stairs, known as the “Harry Potter Room”), but we do the best with what we have! Keep in mind the types of activities the student will be doing and what best fits their needs. For example, if you have a student who elopes, maybe don’t put them by the door…put them in an area furthest away from the door, in an area that can be easily blocked if needed. Have a student who needs to take frequent breaks? Set up that student and his aide by the door for easier and less disruptive transitions.

The student’s area in my classroom is in the back area of the room and all of his activities are in the same area. I have a desk for his dedicated aide next to his “Work Station” desk. His schedule is slightly away from his area to ensure he gets a short break between activities and so he is able see that these activities have a concrete start and finish.

3. Schedules/Visuals

Obviously the cornerstone of any successful autism/low-incidence classroom! Make sure you know your student’s dedicated paraprofessional schedule.  From there, you can make the student’s schedule based on the times they will have that paraprofessional support. I combined the schedules and listed the times, activities and the adult support he would be receiving during that time. I also wrote the activities on this schedule so I could reference it to make his visual schedule.

Put all the visuals (first, then; “I’m working for….” Star chart, reinforcer menu, communication visuals) in one place that is easily accessible to the staff and the student (as appropriate) . I put mine on the wall, with Velcro on the back so it can be taken off and put pack on the wall for storage.

4. Data/Materials

Make sure that the student’s dedicated paraprofessional understands what kind of data collection they need to do and that it is in one easily accessible and organized place. I put this student’s data binder in his aide’s desk, along with pencils and paper for writing notes. The data collection I am focusing on with this particular student is working independently on tasks; therefore, his paraprofessional is collecting data on the number of prompts used.

5. Let it Evolve

Rome wasn’t built in a day, so your one-on-one student area definitely won’t be…and that’s okay! I put all these nice fancy pictures up, but don’t let that fool you! Before, I wrote this student’s schedule on a piece of binder paper! It actually was a good thing, because I ended up changing part of this student’s schedule because another student was at the same station at the same time. Also, his paraprofessional mentioned to me that the spaces on his original data sheet were a little too small for her to write in. This was very helpful for me to know because she is the one using the data sheet on daily basis so it should work for her. Setting up a temporary system/schedule allows you to work out any kinks before you make labels and schedules with cute fonts!