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2014-2015 School Year: Classroom Tour!

Happy 2014-2015 school year! Look at that, I found some time (and wine) to sit down and blog!

I wanted to give a little “tour” and inside look of our classroom this year! As a teacher of students with moderate to intensive needs, it’s always quite the puzzle putting together my room. I must say, this is definitely my favorite setup to date! Love love LOVE it!

Before and after picture I posted to @myspeciallearners on IG. A lot of sweat and time put into that!! But always my favorite part of the process. šŸ™‚

So I go back to school in July and this is what I find: all of that? That’s my stuff. All stacked down the hall outside my classroom. That was not fun. HOWEVER…it made classroom set up a little easier! In previous years I found myself just moving stuff around to place things in the room. This year I started with a blank canvas!
This is what you see when you walk in my door. My classroom is divided up into multiple small areas. As a moderate to intensive needs teacher, much of my time working with students is 1:1 work. To decrease distractions, my students have their own “office” area. I have 7 students and 5 “offices” (1 student is slowly moving out of my classroom, and another came to me the day before school started, so she gets to share one for the sake of my sanity). Below is some more information about their office areas and the 1:1 work I do with them!

Here is just one of my kiddos “office” areas. In here, you will find independent bins filled with work that is mastered. This is done with the TEACCH method during their independent work time. You can also find reinforcers such as first/then cards, schedules, calm down checklists, etc.

Last year each student had their own rolling cart. However, I’m trying something new this year to help my sanity (why do I need a full set of time flashcards for each office?!?) and to make things a little easier. All of our rolling carts are now lined up, filled, and labeled. When I work 1:1 with a student, or if I have one of my paraprofessionals work with someone, we can just grab some sight words, flashcards, or counting manipulatives and take them to that student’s office to get to work! Voila!

When doing this 1:1 work, we obviously need to take some data. Again, last year each student had their data binder in their office area. However, some of their IEP goals are covered during whole group or small group time, so this makes grabbing and jotting down some data a little easier on me! Their binders are in the pink bins and then below are some lower leveled readers for students to read and/or take home in the evening! (I spent a LOT of time this summer organizing and labeling!)

Here is our whole group area! This is my third year in this district and third year with a few of these kiddos and I must say, whole group was tough and honestly painful most days in the beginning. Over time, they have made so much progress that I’ve been able to incorporate multiple whole group and small group times into our schedule this year! AND! We are also using desks this year! Last year I had a huge kidney bean table (that I hated) and I am just loving the desks this year. I think this is such an important thing for my students, especially learning how to stay in your own space and look at your own work. The only issue so far (and it’s still early, we’re learning!) is keeping the things in our desk, IN our desk. Busy, busy hands going on here. We are working on Nutrition and the 5 food groups, Unique Learning, News2You, and some Starfall phonics right now in our small group and whole groups in this area! Busy bees. šŸ™‚
The desks are also making transitions SO much more manageable. Last year, we would come back from Art or Lunch and there would just be kiddos running everywhere. This year, each transition involves us sitting at our desk and waiting on instructions from the teacher. We are also able to do morning bell work while everyone gets situated first thing in the morning. You can see some morning work pictured above, ready to be completed before we do lunch count and morning group!
Above are a couple more pictures of “areas” in my classroom. We have a computer area, play area (with a swing, finally!!!!), and sensory/quiet area. The quiet area is my new addition and favorite part of the new setup. We have some weighted vests, a weighted blanket, fidget toys, a trampoline, and some beanbags and books to help out with calm down or quiet times. 
So there it is! I love our classroom this year and am excited to see what this year has in store for me. šŸ™‚
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