First year teaching a self contained classroom...

Discussion in 'Special Education' started by Leikela, Sep 3, 2007.

  1. Leikela

    Leikela Companion

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    Sep 3, 2007

    Hi all,

    Last year was my first year teaching and I taught in an inclusion classroom with just 5th grade students. This year I'm on my own teaching a self-contained classroom with 16 students from grades 2 through 5.

    How the heck am I supposed to do this? 2-5 is a huge grade level span. Do I teach them in groups? How do I write lesson plans for such a classroom?

    These are all questions I would ask my principal but she hasn't been available. I report for my first day tomorrow and the students report on Thursday.

    So, for anyone who has taught or is teaching self-contained, ANY pointers would be much appreciated. Thank you so much in advance! :)
     
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  3. teachersk

    teachersk Connoisseur

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    Sep 3, 2007

    First off, I would ask how a self contained classroom can be successful with 16 kids in it... Typically self contained is for those students that are unable to be successful in a regular education classroom and need a different environment. 16 kids (especially if they truly are kiddos that need self contained) all in one room seems like a bad idea. But, maybe your school does it differently and the kids are not as "needy" as our self contained kiddos. I had 6 students in my self contained class last year, and around Christmas time we were up to 9. I ended the year with 6, and even 6 was a lot. I have 4 this year and I am so thankful. I have an aide who helps me, but these 4 kiddos are a challenge.

    The first thing I would do is see their IEPs and figure out why it is that they are self contained. I would also start the year out with the idea that maybe some of them have been misplaced. It might even need to be brought to the attention of the principal that perhaps two self contained classes are necessary, a 2-3 and a 4-5. At my school, I am the K-5 self contained teacher, but if I had 16 kids, I would request the class being split into two. I would not be able to meet the needs of the kids.

    The other thing you could check is, are all 16 kids in the room at the same time? It may be that the kids are different grade levels and filter in at different times... so 16 sounds a whole lot worse than it is.

    It is important to remember that grouping the kids into different academic groups can be very helpful. You may have a reading group of kids that are "pre-readers" on a PK-K level, and then a group of kids that are a 1-2 level. I'd imagine if they are self contained, the reading level wouldn't be much higher than 2nd grade. To be "eligible" for my classroom, the kids have to be two or more grade levels behind their peers, and unable to be serviced by the traditional resource special education teacher. Once you've made your groups, you can have your aide (I hope with 16 kids you get an aide) work with them on spelling words, reading, etc. while you do reading with one group. The same idea for all of the subjects, you can switch groups. Last year I had two groups, a 1st grade reading group and a 2nd grade reading group (higher functioning). This year, they are all about the same. I have a 2nd grade reading group and there's one little boy who's real low - but we just let him participate and read sight words, answer comprehension questions about the pictures, etc.

    Your behavior management methods will be imperative to making your classroom successful. The very first day, you should spell out your rules and your expectations for the kids. In my room, we have a big poster that says "rights and responsibilities." That way, the kids know that it is their RIGHT to be in school to learn, but their responsibility to make sure that happens for everyone. Etc.

    The biggest component of the self contained classroom - like I mentioned before - would be centers. You can tailor these centers to meet the needs of all of the grade levels of the students, while working individually and in groups with them. They can rotate from center to center working on different skills.

    I utilize the TEACCH structured teaching model in my classroom as well. The kids are on a very strict routine because of this they know what to expect. This alleviates a lot of the behaviors (i have 75% autistic kids). They use visual schedules (different for each kid depending on their level - one boy has written words only, two have words and line drawing pictures (PECS), and one has photographs). This helps with the daily activities as they know what comes after each subject or activity. They also have independent work areas (takes up about half my room...) that have bookshelves on either side. These are their work stations and one bookshelf is used to hold all of their activities, file folder games, puzzles, workbooks, etc. that correspond to that child. These are purely IEP goals. I put stuff on the shelf for them to do, following their work system. This teaches them to be independent, gives me data for the IEP goals, and helps them to master the goals. You can google TEACCH work systems for more ideas on what a work system is. It basically tells the child The tasks/steps the student is supposed to do. How many tasks/steps there are to be completed. How the student knows he/she is finished. What to do when he/she is finished. I have one little guy who has tubs (each one with a different activity... sorting, matching, alphabet matching, numbers/counting... etc.) Each tub has a card on it with a color. On the wall, there is a strip that has each color. Every time he finishes a task, he puts the card on the matching color strip on the wall. He knows he is finished when all of the color strips are complete. He also sees the picture of the free time area next to the color strips, so he knows he is able to have free time as soon as his work is complete. Here is a website with a little more information about work stations - great for ALL kids, not just kids with autism, not just low functioning kids.

    http://www.iidc.indiana.edu/irca/education/myself.html

    Hopefully this was a little bit helpful.... ?
     
  4. Leikela

    Leikela Companion

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    Sep 3, 2007

    This was definitely helpful. It was VERy helpful actually!! Thank you so much. My goal is to have a structured room but just didn't know how to go about doing that. I will look at TEACCH and the website link that you provided to me. Thanks again!

    I teach in a very poor neighborhood, Newark, NJ, so the resources are limited. Lots of things fall through the cracks there which is why the self contained classroom is so large. I know this class from last year and they are in the classroom 24/7. I do have one aide even though I should have two. I'm going to try make the most of the difficult situation I am in!

    Thanks again for the valuable help!
     

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