New Life Skills Teacher - Opening New Program

Discussion in 'Special Education' started by LSteacher, Aug 9, 2009.

  1. LSteacher

    LSteacher Rookie

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    Aug 9, 2009

    Hello all!

    I'm starting my first job as a SPED teacher. I am reopening a program that has been closed for three years - middle school life skills. By reopening, I'm talking about a room with NOTHING in it that applies to my students.

    Right now I have 4 students, all in sixth grade. One student is very low functioning, is in a wheelchair, is nonverbal, etc. One is very challenging, he is severely affected by his Autism. He is a runner, spits and pees to get out of work and has very little functional communication. The other two have classifications as having mental retardation, but are higher functioning than the other two students. One is nonverbal, but is very communicative and pretty happy. I don't know very much about the other student yet.

    I was hoping that some of you might be able to help me with my first day/first week plans.

    First day - we will be going over rules, procedures, etc. I am thinking that I would like to begin work on a "Who we are" book. None of the students know each other - or us. I will be taking pictures of each of them, as well as pictures of myself and my para. Each day we will add people to the book. For instance, the second day we will add the nurse, principal and vice principal. Do you have any good suggestions for the first day?

    I'd like to expand this to other books to be made as resource books for the classroom. I'm planning to go on to books such as: What do we do, what do we use (classroom materials), where do we go, how do I feel, where do we work, why do we work. Hopefully we will be able to progress to more abstract ideas.

    I am fresh out of college, so any ideas you can give me would be amazing!

    Thanks so much,

    Jaimie
     
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  3. WaterfallLady

    WaterfallLady Enthusiast

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    Aug 9, 2009

    I like the idea of the resource books. Have you considered a picture schedule as well?

    My kids are higher than yours so I don't have a whole lot of ideas besides that. Congrats on the job!
     
  4. lucylucy

    lucylucy Rookie

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    Aug 10, 2009

    This will be my first year in a self contained room. I am moving from resource. I am slowly gathering ideas. All I've really thought through at this point is how I want to do all procedures, etc... We are going to practice those a lot, and then I'm going to have my paras practice those procedures with my kids in small groups. I really like your resource book idea, and may steal it! Because my kids are early elementary I'm not sure if things I'm thinking of would be age appropriate. My kids are all going to make self portraits - I got cheap frames and we're going to hang them up. We'll also do a read aloud.

    My friend teaches middle school self contained in a middle school and she sets up her classroom like an apartment. The kids practice making bed, making simple meals, cleaning, etc... I don't know if you have the ability to do that or if it would be appropriate for your kids, but she has a lot of success with it.

    In terms of first day/week it seems that all you should really be focusing on is rules/procedures. Going into the cafeteria and practicing how you operate in there, etc... It'll be really important for my kids to have a picture schedule so we'll practice how to use that. Good luck! If you come up with more good ideas, be sure to post them! =)
     
  5. sammyrams

    sammyrams Companion

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    Aug 10, 2009

    I love the apartment idea! I may have to see if I can work that into my room. I am new to the life skills at the middle school level this year so any ideas are gold for me!! I like the cafeteria procedures etc. as well. There are so many things I have not thought of. Now I wish I could get my board approval so I can get into my classroom!
     
  6. AspieTeacher

    AspieTeacher Comrade

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    Aug 11, 2009

    You will need a visual schedule for the student with autism (I highly recommend photographs) for the student if he can handle it. I would also use photographs for when it's time for toileting so that he can "request" to use the restroom appropriately. I would not allow spitting and I would determine the "trigger" for that behavior using the ABC (Antecdent-trigger) Behavior- Spits
    Consequence-how you and staff respond in WRITING so that your administrator can see PATTERN of this behavior if it doesn't change. Children with autism are easily overwhelmed by simple changes and if they aren't prepared for transitions it causes the "fight or flight" syndrome to occur or what people call a "meltdown" sometimes. It hurts them and they don't know how to communicate they are confused or don't understand what you want them to do. I would use visual prompts to help that student with autism understand what you want him to do. He will need "structured activities too" When re-directing the student, you ignore any fighting and you don't overwhelm with verbal interaction because students' with autism strength is visual learning. If you show a visual cue, you may have a better time. He will need an "activity schedule" as well so that he understands what you want him to do. http://www.tasksgalore.com will give you ideas for "shoebox tasks" also http://www.hotideas.com is another great site. Remember not too have too much visual "clutter" or it may cause your student with autism to go into sensory overload. He will need sensory time to explore all the senses: auditory, tactile, olfactory (smell), and visual. I didn't include taste because that is one the school doesn't look at very well.

    The student in the wheelchair willl need "positioning" which means time out of that wheelchair. I suggest going to Target and purchasing a twin air mattress that can be inflated while you work with other students when your wheelchair student is out of the chair. Most likely the student wears diapers too. You will need "sensory activities" for all of your students too. Your wheelchair student will need more lower-functioning activities such as press the switch, ect.

    Make sure that any "art activity" is done by the STUDENT no matter how sloppy or unattractive it may look. Make sure that you have a main schedule which has photographs representing what occurs during that time block. The student with autism and the other two students will need "mini-schedules" to help them focus on what is going to happen next. It helps them with order and understanding. Include time for toileting if your students wear diapers too. You will need shelving to store your materials. I would make sure that you use "baskets, bins, containers, trays" to store your materials that you store on the shelves too. I will be posting what my classroom looks like soon. I also teach students with multiple disabilities with severe-profound limitations and wheelchairs. This is my 2nd year working at the middle school for this population.

    I have so much extra stuff that I would love to donate, but I live in California. Trust me, I'd help you out by showing you how to structure your classroom to help your students learn according to their individual abilities.

    Use clipboards with data sheets to collect data for their IEP objectives. Make sure that you post the clipboards in area where all staff can access the data sheets most easily. You don't want your sheets all over the room, you want them in one accessible location instead.

    IMPORTANT: DO NOT RESTRAIN YOUR STUDENTS EVER UNLESS YOU HAVE BEEN TRAINED WITH YOUR DISTRICT. If a student is a runner, you may have to send another staff member to "watch" over the student but I wouldn't chase the student. I have learned through my experience that some kids think of it as a "game" if you run after them. You will never be able to force a child back to the room. It's best to give them a reinforcer to bring them back to the room. Children with autism can be very strong.
     
  7. AspieTeacher

    AspieTeacher Comrade

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    Aug 11, 2009

  8. LSteacher

    LSteacher Rookie

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    Aug 16, 2009

    thanks!

    Thank you all SOOO much! I'm sorry I didn't reply sooner, I never received notification of replies - I thought I'd set it to do that!

    I am using picture schedules - boardmaker/writing with symbols right now. If it is necessary, I will do the photographs. I have no problem doing that, but unfortunately my room isn't photograph worthy yet!!!

    I was going to do individual work stations, but my teacher mentor suggested that I should think of my students socialization needs because they are pretty low functioning and create a main table with taped off areas for each student. I am going to give this a shot. If it doesn't work, I will go back to the individual stations.

    Unfortunately, I have NO storage beyond one tall set of shelves with one shelf bent, a file cabinet and my desk with two file drawers. My teacher mentor (who is AMAZING, by the way) said that if I don't want the students messing with things, they simply shouldn't be out. This is problematic because I don't have any cabinets...YET. I've pushed the point to my school that I must have cabinets with doors that close (and lock if possible).

    For the first day, my teacher mentor also recommended that I have the students lie down on the floor and trace each other and then decorate/hang them on the walls. My walls are a disgustingly dingy yellow right now, so it would DEFINITELY add a little something something.

    ASPIETEACHER:

    What I was told by his previous teacher is that the spitting is a way to get out of work. She said it works best to turn your face away, wipe off and ignore him. If you give the attention, he will keep doing it. The whole class will be having transition training and structured activities :) I've worked with many students who have Autism and much of what I a structuring in my classroom comes from Autism programs I've done practicums with.

    I am going to be attempting to turn my extra bathroom (yes, I have two in my VERY small room??) into a sensory room.

    As for positioning, the student in the wheelchair is coming with a lot of his own equipment. I don't have room for it all :rolleyes: I can't afford to go purchase the air mattress, I just graduated and don't have the extra money right now. I will speak with the OT/PT about getting this. He does wear diapers and came with a switch. I need to find out about getting toys, etc. that are able to be hooked to a switch

    I ABSOLUTELY agree about the art activities being done by the student.

    Each student will have a binder with an individual schedule that has velcro spots for velcro check marks to be put on. I was going to do schedules with PECS velcroed to the wall, but my teacher mentor said that it will take a LOT of time for the students to go to their schedules, switch PECS and then they usually won't come right back ;) So we'll see how this goes! I do have toileting built into the schedule. Gosh, I wish you didn't live in MD!!! I take any and all donations! I can't WAIT to see your classroom.


    I was planning to do data sheets in each students binder next to the specific goal they are for. I may change it to clipboards though...not sure.


    We are being CPI trained (restraint training) next week. My runner has it written into his IEP. I'd much prefer not to chase him...that's a lot of work ;) I know what you mean about students with Autism being strong!!! oyyyyy... [/QUOTE]


    Thanks again!!

    Jaimie
     
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2009
  9. mom2mikey

    mom2mikey Cohort

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    Aug 16, 2009

    Sounds like you have a lot of great ideas :). Also sounds like you have a pretty big range of abilities. I have 8 students in my room - two of them are autistic (both non-verbal), 5 in wheelchairs, 6 non-verbal...etc. Its a crazy, wonderful mix. I use a good chunk of time the first few days to make our ceiling decorations for the year. Last year, we made giant kites. The students painted them a variety of different ways (finger painting, brushes, bingo dabbing, balloon painting - dip balloon in paint and then hold on and dab it on the paper...etc.) and then they cut out pictures of things that they liked or that represented them. For those who were non verbal, we went through magazines and they indicated yes or no to things that go on the kite. For students who can cut or cut with hand-over-hand they cut, for those who couldn't do hand over hand due to limited physical abilities, we hooked up battery operated sissors to a switch and the student activated the switch that would activate the scissors while one of the staff cut. This year, we are starting with a mini-theme of "Super Sand Castles" (we use news-2-you and that is the first paper we have) and the students will be doing something similar but working with life sized surfboards cut out of cardboard. We will hang them from the roof with some paper waves that I (or one of the learning assistants) make as extra decorations.

    I started a blog to record some of my teaching ideas this year as when I started doing this three years ago it was just so overwhelming and I really wished there were more ideas/sharing of what people do in their rooms out there. Unfortunately I cannot post a link but if you're interested in checking it out, do a google search for Building a Program That Works and you can get to it :).
     
  10. LSteacher

    LSteacher Rookie

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    Aug 16, 2009

    oh wow! GREAT idea :) I've heard people mention news 2 you, but didn't really know much about it. I may have to steal your idea and do super sandcastles!!! If you don't mind my asking (so I can SHAMELESSLY steal)...what else are you doing with that theme? I don't have a subscription to News 2 You, but I'm meeting with the LS director tomorrow and I'm going to ask if the county has a subscription. I would really like to utilize this!! Edit: Oops! Just saw the section on your blog about it ;)

    also - GREAT website....SO helpful!

    Jaimie
     
  11. mom2mikey

    mom2mikey Cohort

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    Aug 16, 2009

    Jaimie - glad you can use some of the ideas. This is my first year using news-2-you. I have a couple of kids who can use some of the materials as they are but will need to make modifications or use the theme of the paper for activities for many of my others. I'm very excited about using it in my classroom this year and the the price was very reasonable :).

    Have you found the adapted learning website for sharing Boardmaker materials yet? That is a great place to go as people post the Boardmaker files they have made and then you can just use them. Really great stuff there as well.

    As well, there are a few blogs that I have listed on the side of my blog that I have found to be really helpful/useful.
     
  12. ZoomZoomZOOM

    ZoomZoomZOOM Devotee

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    Aug 16, 2009

    Have you ever been reading a thread and feel as though your head is going to explode from all the ideas you're getting? lol THIS is one of those threads.

    First of all, welcome! And welcome to the wonderful world of life skills. When I saw your subject line, "New Life Skills Teacher - Opening New Program," my first thought was, when did I start that thread? I don't remember starting that thread. Because I am also a new life skills teacher (well, 2nd year) - starting a brand new life skills classroom in middle school. WEIRD, huh?

    I can relate to the minimal materials/storage. All I got was about... 7 curriculum books like "Restaurant Math," a filing cabinet from like 1938, and the world's smallest desk. THANKS, DISTRICT. Oh and did I mention they put me in the band room? Seriously. With a line of office partitions down the middle to separate us.

    Ack, anyway, enough about me! :D When I read your initial post about needing ideas and then I read through the thread, it sounds like even though you're fresh out of college, you have a better plan of action than I do! I wouldn try not to worry so much if I were you (even though it's hard) because you'll iron out details as you go along. Just know you're not alone. I too am freaking out. :lol:
     
  13. sammyrams

    sammyrams Companion

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    Aug 16, 2009

    This thread has been great!! Thanks for the website mom2mikey!! Awesome! It is going to help sooooo much!
     
  14. LSteacher

    LSteacher Rookie

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    Aug 23, 2009

    school starts tomorrow!!! ACK!!!! I'm feeling so ridiculously unprepared.


    ah!!!


    Jaimie
     

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