Managing Smooth Classroom Schedules - The Autism Helper

Managing Smooth Classroom Schedules

The building that my classroom is housed in is an all preschool building. We have 10 classrooms in total with MANY related service team members, and two Early Childhood Assessment Teams. Not only do we have to manage all of our individual classroom schedules, but we all work as a team in order to manage all staff schedules. At the beginning of each year, the first few staff meetings are spent working on schedules for the whole building. This way we are sure that all related services are in their classrooms when they need to be. Staff then split into classroom teams and work on individual classroom schedules. When we are fully in-person, teachers and their classroom teams are able to work their schedule any way that it fits. In this post, I will review the steps that it takes in order to make manageable classroom schedules for fully in-person, hybrid, and full remote models.

Fully Remote Schedules

When our district released our remote learning guidebook, the schedules for each building were also released. This schedule is the same for all 10 classrooms (preschool for all, instructional, and educational learning skills) so that there is equity and uniformity across the building. The learners in our Educational Learning Skills classroom and their families attend 3 live sessions per day. Those 3 times are opening circle, small groups, and ending circle/read aloud. For our small group time, we schedule all of our learners for 1:1 time with either myself or related services. Although our schedules were provided for us, the activities and lessons within each time are under team control. The following is what my team and I have found to be successful:

  • Opening Circle: this is when we sing our hello song, do a Zones of regulation check in, math or literacy activity, Speech/language lessons (2 days per week), social worker activity (1 day a week), sing a song, do a nursery rhyme, practice a life skill and a social skill, and then do Calm Classroom to get ready for small groups.
  • Small groups: each student is scheduled a 20 minute time slot for 1:1 time with myself or a related service members on their assigned days. This is where we work on IEP goals, alternate curriculum lessons, and parent training.
  • Gross motor: families are provided a calendar of gross motor activities to do on each day. They are asked to work on the activity with their child and send in any pictures or notes about how their child did.
  • Open centers: families are provided with a menu of activities to do within this time. I have created a chart within my Canvas course that lists what we want them to work on during this time. This includes extra videos from related service team members, alternate curriculum, and practice with Pivotal Response Training videos that I have created.
  • Read Aloud/ Closing circle: two days a week, our read aloud is recorded by my TAs and the families do not have to attend anything live. One day a week our English as A New Language teacher reads a book and we sing goodbye, and two days a week I read a book and we sing goodbye.

Hybrid Model Schedules

The hybrid schedule has proved to be much trickier than I thought it would be. Our district has pushed our hybrid start date to March 15th, 2021. All classrooms were given a schedule by our district that we are to follow. I have met with my team in order to fill in the details of supervision, paraprofessional support, bathroom, hand washing, cleaning and sanitizing, teaching and assessing, and of course fitting in related services. We hope that what we have is workable for when we go back and start implementing it!

Currently, our AM is scheduled for:

Monday and Tuesday AM: 5 remote learners
Wednesday AM and PM: Fully remote for the whole district for deep cleaning
Thursday and Friday AM: 4 in-person learners and 1 remote

Currently, our PM is scheduled for:

Monday and Tuesday PM: 1 remote learner and 2 remote learners
Wednesday AM and PM: Fully remote for the whole district for deep cleaning
Thursday and Friday PM: 3 remote learners

When filling in our hybrid schedule details, my team and I reviewed each day of the week and had many layers to look at and monitor. We needed to make sure our paraprofessionals were exposed to the least amount of students possible, our learners who need translations are scheduled times with our bilingual paraprofessional, related services needs to meet their minutes, and I need time to teach and run our alternate curriculum programs that are more successful in person. Working as a team on this made filling in all of the moving parts much easier. We have options for our remote learners to join us live during opening circle and ending circle. I am also able to send home materials for remote learners to work on during days and times when their learning is asynchronous. 

Fully In-Person Schedules

When we were fully in-person and everything was “normal”, we were given a master schedule outline by our leadership team. The only time that is a non-negotiable is our gross motor time which is assigned by leadership. Our leadership talks with classroom teams to decide which time slot may fit the best, but it is very difficult to change it once the master schedule is released.

In our building, we only have one outdoor play space and one indoor play space. This makes for tight gross motor schedules. Teams are able to change small groups, circle times, open centers, etc. the way that fits the needs of the learners in each classroom. Unlike the Preschool for All classrooms in our building, our structured classroom has more ability to move times of the day around. This is because our self-contained classrooms do not have grant requirements, and we have related services team members in our classrooms the entire morning and afternoon sessions.

Putting It All Together

When creating schedules for our classroom, we first need to recognize which model of learning we are following. We must also remember to be flexible and that these can change very quickly! My team and I have come together more than ever this school year. We have filled in the gaps to ever changing schedules, learning models, and needs of our learners. We follow the paraprofessional training manual as whole team so that we are all on board for the same mission and work together. Our team knows that these are ever changing, flexible, and never permanent!

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