New Program - New Teacher - Help

Discussion in 'Special Education' started by gotclass, Feb 14, 2014.

  1. gotclass

    gotclass New Member

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    Feb 14, 2014

    I am a second year teacher (although this is my first year with my own class) in a brand new program specifically for k-1 kids with autism.

    I have all of the things that I need to be successful (and count my blessings) but I just can't seem to get it to come together.

    Because it is a new program to the district, I don't have anything to work with in terms of "thats how we have always done it". I also don't have anybody to really talk to that I can bounce ideas off from except my ed techs and my bcba, who are wonderful but all have different perspectives and priorities, where I have to look at the WHOLE picture.

    Anyway, I currently have 2 1st graders, 3 kinders and am getting another 1st grader after Feb. break. Unfortunately they are all at such different levels, it is hard to group them. The best I can do at this point is 3 groups (high, middle and low) but on the whole they can't do things independently (attention issues then turn into behavior issues). So academically, I have high, middle and low and functionally I have high, middle and low, and the kids aren't necessarily in the same level for both.

    I have been doing centers, but I have a couple kids that really need discrete trial teaching. I just don't know how to make it all make sense in a way that the kids are learning and the room isn't complete chaos.

    My classroom is designed to be self contained, but of course we are trying to get them into the mainstream when possible.

    Because they are K-1 kids, they really aren't at a point that they can be independent, although we have made progress in that arena.

    Any thoughts or ideas would be helpful. I have a bunch of staff that is more than willing to do whatever I ask them to do but I am so frustrated because we can't seem to get a routine/system in place.

    Administration can't seem to make up their mind what they want the program to look like - groups/discrete trial/by grade level, by functional level, by academic level/centers/self contained/inclusion/push for social and functional groups or push for ability to be independent and of course, every person that I talk to has a different idea of what they envision.

    ARGHHHHHHHHHH
     
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  3. LisaLisa

    LisaLisa Companion

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    Feb 16, 2014

    Here are things I've used:

    http://www.prekinders.com/

    http://theautismhelper.com/

    Teachers Pay Teachers

    and most especially searches in this forum - look for centers, curriculum, discrete trials (look in the other sites too)
    I've found more ideas from this site than anywhere else.
     
  4. Nate

    Nate Companion

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    Feb 16, 2014

    I teach the same population at the middle school level. I very rarely teach groups, even small groups. Almost everything is individual while the other students are working with the aide or independently, even if their independent work is simple sorting/matching tasks. Look into the TEACCH method for a foundation of classroom structure.
     
  5. bethechange

    bethechange Comrade

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    Feb 16, 2014

    I teach this same population (Elementary ASD) and have the kids that are considered amongst the most severely impacted for elementary in our district. I have 2 students (one kinder, one second grade) that have 1:1 support due to extreme lack of safety awareness/dangerous behaviors and also due to accompanying and potentially life-threatening medical conditions. Then I have 5 more students ages 2nd - 4th grade. Most of my students have limited if any verbal skills, so communication is a huge focus of my classroom.

    My classroom is a mix of group, 1:1, and small group instruction, coupled with independent work. In a perfect world, I could teach them 1:1 at their level all day long, but I think there is a huge amount of merit to teaching kids group skills too. In life, reality dictates that they are probably not going to have 1:1 all their lives and teaching kids to wait, take turns, look at and attend to others, and do things that are not their favorite will help them hugely in the long run. My 5 kids do 3 group routines a day, and one of the 1:1 kids joins for the last half of the group routines (with his aide). My other 1:1 kiddo eats lunch at the table with the other kids and goes to specials with them.

    Here is my schedule:

    7:50 - 8:10 - lockers, lunch count (on SMARTboard) kids get out puzzles to work on while waiting for breakfast. One kid's job to go get the breakfast box (in hallway) and pass out plates and breakfast.

    8:10 - 8:30 - breakfast, cleanup, bathrooms (5 kids do this together with me, one 1:1 eats by himself, other 1:1 is doing separate activities)

    8:30 - 9:00 - morning group - we do MeMoves, the pledge (work on focus, saying the words together, standing appropriately, etc.), calendar, and usually a short seasonal vocabulary activity)

    9:00 - 10:00 - rotations - every 20 minutes kids rotate from station 1 (computer) to station 2 (work with me) to station 3 (sensory activities). My aide runs sensory activities, I do academics at the table in pairs or 1:1 - I rotate every other week so all kids get some 1:1 time and some pairs. During 1:1 weeks I hammer their IEP objectives, during 2:1 weeks I work on reinforcing skills by teaching them some partner activities like Bingo, flash card games, or worksheet activities. This allows them to practice skills and also learn group skills.

    10:00 - 11:00 - I work with my lowest 1:1 child. Her aide runs the group table, where we do another set of rotations. 1 or 2 kids have speech, 1 or 2 kids at the table where we do a seasonal thematic, fine motor, art, or skill reinforcement activity, and 1-2 at their independent work stations.

    11:00 - 11:30 - specials (my prep)

    11:30 - 12:00 - bathroom and group time - we do basic skills review, seasonal, or thematic things on the SMARTboard. Mostly I make them, find them, or modify them, although our district uses Vizzle which is awesome and helps immensely.

    12:00 - 12:20 - lunch - I feed one 1:1 student, the other does surprisingly well at lunch and this is when we are fading her support, she eats at the table with the other 5 kids.

    12:20 - 12:45 - clean up lunch, choice time. Kids pick from structured bins that rotate weekly. (I work with other 1:1 kid during this time)

    12:45 - 1:00 - classroom jobs (I work with other 1:1 kid during this time)

    1:00 - 1:15 - journal - done in groups of 2 and 3 with an adult facilitating - kids do copy work, writing work, structured writing programs set up by our OT, and fill out their daily note home for parents

    1:15 - 1:30 - reading/book boxes - kids practice independent reading - this looks different depending on the kid, but we work on a modified version of daily 5 and/or work on literacy activities in small groups

    1:30 - 2:00 - end of day group - I run, 6 kids in this one. Thursdays we have computer lab (one kid does Vizzle on ipad with aide, one works on computer in room with aide, I take other 5 to computer lab) and on Fridays we cook.

    2:00 - 2:15 - bathrooms, get ready to go

    2:15 - 2:30 - recess

    Are there things I don't like about it? Sure. I wish I did not have to have them on the computer so much (they each do about 30 - 40 minutes a day of computer or ipad) but it is reality with the staffing I have. It enables me to get to work with each kid each day and get my aides their breaks. But I am really proud of how far we have come with group skills. It can be done if you are structured, visual, and take into account their interests. Don't stress about making it terribly academic at first. It is a success just to get them sitting and learning together. I am amazed at how much my kids have actually managed to learn to relate to each other, wait, tolerate taking turns, etc.

    Good luck!
     
  6. ca_sped

    ca_sped Rookie

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    Feb 17, 2014

    For a K-1 class, I would focus on basic skills like working independently, taking turns, sitting in their chairs, lining up, etc. And then I would work on independence so that they are able to work at their desks. My students are older, but they were completely unable to do independent desk work when I got there this year. I have a ton of file folder games as well as task boxes (search TEACCH on Pinterest). I don't use them for academics, I use them to teach the students to work independently. So at any time, I am teaching a small group or working 1:1 with a student, my aide is teaching a small group, and my other aide is monitoring the students working independently.

    It took until after Christmas, but I will say I am finally feeling like they "get it" and my class feels much less chaotic than it did before Christmas.
     
  7. Nate

    Nate Companion

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    Feb 17, 2014

    Not sure if bethechange was responding to me saying I didn't do group work, but to clarify, we do a lot of stuff as a group, but not instructional work. In the past, I've had "clumps" of students working on the same goal, but they're all different enough from one another this year (and last year) that it hasn't worked out. We do whole group morning routines, small group Circle of Friends sessions, whole group outings, whole group thematic/unit experiences, etc.
     
  8. bethechange

    bethechange Comrade

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    Feb 17, 2014

    Wasn't trying to imply you do no group work. :)
    Again, I think balance is key. Especially in setting up a new program, look at what you can realistically provide. For me, the point of doing stuff in a group is to expose the kids to new experiences and each other and work on skills like waiting, turn-taking, focus, etc. Less focus on the academics, although they do pick up some academic skills with lots of repetition. I have seen some autism programs, including a highly regarded private autism program near where I live, where the focus is entirely 1:1 and I just don't think its realistic for public school to duplicate with the staffing and resources we have. Nor do I think it gives kids the skills they need to cope or function in the real world. Therefore, I try to make the best of both worlds and balance 1:1 with group stuff. Its not always perfect, but its not hurting them and its the absolute best I can do with the resources I have.
     

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