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Back to School

Some tips for a successful start to your special ed year

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Back to School

Kids are excited to get back to school.

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There’s no question that preparation is one of the essentials to a successful classroom. Here are some suggestions for success in any classroom, including a resource room, a full inclusion classroom or a self contained special education classroom.

Rules and Routines:

I have become a big fan of Harry Wong, the author of The First Day of School. He suggests that for successful classroom management, you focus on Routines rather than Rules.

Keep your rules simple: I would suggest no more than four. Be sure to include “Respect Yourself and Others,” which can cover a lot of ground and be the source of a lot of discussion.

Rely on routines to run your classroom. The beginning of the year is the time to establish where the papers will go, how you will line up, when you can sharpen pencils, etc.

Organizing Students:

Organization is one of the most important academic skills you can teach your children. Many children with disabilities have some degree of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) which means organizing materials is a major issue. Color coding folders, uniform pencil boxes, clearly marked bins around the classroom for both materials and turning in assignments, will really help.

At the beginning of the year either put your materials list online (if your district provides webpages for faculty on the district Website) or send the list home. If students don’t show up with the materials, call or email Mom. Your organizational plan may make a child’s year and avoid all kinds of tears at home.

Organize Your Classroom

Be sure you have decided what the function of each area in your classroom will be. Label them clearly, and make it easy for children to find materials but also to keep them tidy. Avoid to much visual stimulation. Some children will find it too distracting, and a child on the Autistic Spectrum may find it creates anxiety or tension.

Create a Token Economy

I have found a Token Economy is a great way to win cooperation and reward the kinds of behaviors you want to encourage.

Tokens can be tickets (I like the red tickets they distribute at carnivals), tokens (I like poker chips) or paper money. Designate what you can get a ticket, token or coin and amount for what behaviors: Say, 2 tickets for completed homework, 5 points (a blue poker chip) for a completed assignment or $.50 for arriving at the resource room with all your materials.

Rewards can either made through purchases, ticket drawings, or auctions. For a purchase, have a box of prizes with prices for the items. For a ticket drawing, the child whose ticket is drawn (they write their names on them) picks a prize form the prize box. For an auction, have a monthly or quarterly auction of all that stuff that comes in the mail: the free posters, stickers, etc.

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