This post originally appeared on the blog Mrs. P’s Specialities

Say what?! You read the title correctly! It is important to set up your classroom so that it can run well even when you’re not in the room. 

Recently, I had the opportunity to observe a program that is similar to mine. We both have self-contained elementary classrooms, we have similar training, and we each have 4 teaching assistants. The difference? The other teacher is needed to answer EVERY question and to make EVERY decision. When you’re the only person with all the information, you’re needed to be in the room and available at all times. I don’t know about you, but there is no way I could be available to answer every question from my paras, therapists, students, administration, and anyone else that wanders into my classroom… oh yeah, and teach! I wouldn’t be able to get anything done!  


Set up systems and routines

It is important to set a system for how you want things to be run in your classroom. One you decide on the system, TRAIN your staff on how to do it. In my classroom, I could be asked to step out at any given minute… for meetings, CPS, a parent, etc. To make sure my classroom is able to continue on without me, I have the day’s lesson plans on my desk at all times. Here is what my binder is open to at all times:
You can read more about how I create my lesson plans by clicking {HERE}. On the left side of my binder, I keep my schedule for all of the therapies that my students get. If a therapist comes in and wants to know if a student is available at a certain time, anyone can look at the schedule. This system helps reduce my interruptions to my instruction.

As you can see, my lesson plans are pretty straightforward and easy. My system for making sure you can find all of the materials you need for every lesson is even easier!!

Click {HERE} to read more about the easiest lesson planning system ever!

Another great way to ward off questions and interruptions is to plan ahead and post information staff need. Make sure you post it in a place they see regularly and can freely get to. Examples of things to plan and post are when are breaks and lunches for paras, before and after school duties for paras, times that therapists can’t pull students, etc. If you aren’t sure what else to plan for, start making a list of the reasons why someone or something interrupted your lessons. As soon as possible, make a plan for those items, train others on the plan and post the plan if possible.

It is challenging to be a teacher…especially a special ed. teacher! Our students need more intense and direct instruction. My students are HIGHLY distractable, and can’t regain attention easily after there is an interruption. We must plan ahead and design a program that meets their needs just like our instruction does.

Set up classroom system and routines, so that your classroom can run smoothly when you are not in the room.


Pam is a moderate to severe special education teacher and author of the blog Mrs. P’s Specialties. Pam creates products that focus on academics, communication, and life skills. She is passionate about saving teachers time and money, so she creates multiple leveled resources to fit the needs and levels of all students. Pam lives in NY with her husband and 2 kids. You can visit her on Facebook, InstagramPinterest, or her TpT store. To learn more about her teaching methods visit her at her blog, Mrs. P’s Specialties.