This post originally appeared on the blog Autism Classroom Resources.
I wanted to share 3 little classroom organization hacks that I have found over the years. They are simple things you can do that will make your life in a special education classroom much easier. Actually it’s more like 4, but I’m going to combine 2 of them. You spend all this time setting up your classroom and the schedule and the zoning but getting started with it before it all becomes habit can be difficult. That’s what these 4 things are designed to address.
1. PUT SCHEDULE ROTATIONS ON THE TABLES
I like to take the center rotations and tape them to my table. This was a quick one, not one of my best efforts, because we were in a hurry and because I never know if the schedule is going to stick. This one was easy —I literally cut and pasted it out of my schedule grid so I could get it on the table before the students arrived. I like having this as a center instructor because I can see who is coming to me next. The second one is also a quick one but you can see how it has the children’s names for just this center (I just put a box over the names so you can’t see them). In the beginning of the year or after a schedule change (you never have those, right?), I find it invaluable to have this information easily where I can access it.
2. PUT THE SCHEDULE GRID NEAR THE SCHEDULES
Another not so beautiful picture, but you can see in this class we needed a different schedule grid for each day (you can read more about my schedule grids here). We posted them above the students’ schedules which made it so much easier to put them back up the next day.
Also, in number two it pays to keep extra schedule visuals above or around the schedules so that you can grab them quickly if you need to make a change. In this classroom, the teacher used baby food containers to hold the extra visuals at the top and she Velcroed them to the wall. The stars are the transition piece the classes used to tell the students to check their schedules.
3. ALL THE SCHEDULES DON’T HAVE TO BE IN ONE PLACE
This one may seem intuitive to some, but I’ve met some teachers who hadn’t thought of it. Ever had that kid who tears down everyone else’s schedule? Or that student who doesn’t know how to locate his schedule effectively, so he takes other kids’ instead? Yea, I’ve known a few. Have you ever had a classroom where all the kids have to wait to check their schedules because there isn’t enough room for all of them — and it’s a class of students who have difficulty waiting? One solution to this is to put their schedules in different places. I once designed a classroom with 4 giant columns around the room (it was in a basement). At first I thought it was going to be horrible, but we actually ended up putting their schedules on different sides of different columns. Then everyone was able to check their schedule at the same time – no waiting. For this student, we put his schedule in a carrel so all his materials were at his space and his schedule was part of that. Think outside the box when it comes to where schedules need to go and whether they can be moved to be more efficient and effective.
I hope that these little classroom organization tips sparked some ideas for your classroom that I know many of you are working on now, whether you are refining from the original or just getting started.
Until next time,
Christine Reeve is an author, resource creator, and special education consultant working with school districts to support students and educators. She holds a doctorate in clinical psychology and has worked in special education for more than 25 years. Her passion is helping educators through creating quality materials, providing professional development and consultation, and developing a community of support to share ideas. Follow along with her blog Autism Classroom Resources and check out her TpT resources.