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Scheduling in the Special Education Classroom

Welcome to week one of our Back to School Block Party: all about scheduling! Scheduling for a self contained classroom is always a puzzle that I love to hate. It’s so satisfying when I’m finally done, but then the school year begins and it changes approximately 238 more times, haha! I’m going to go through my steps to putting my schedule together each year.

1. Start with the basics.

Above is a finished product of one of my schedules. When I start my schedule, I lay out the time slots and student names in an Excel spreadsheet. Once this is finished, I insert all of the non-negotiable times during the day such as lunch, recess, specials, students that go into regular ed, etc.

2. Make sure each student has 1:1 work time scheduled.

If you notice above, each student has a designated 1:1 work time (shown in yellow) that I like to have set aside to work on specific IEP goals. This time is not always with me and is sometimes with a paraprofessional.

3. Schedule other center rotations.

This is sometimes where it gets a little tricky for me depending on my caseload each year. During my day, I build in different rotations such as fine motor work, independent work, free choice, etc. Obviously, I can’t have 5 students doing independent work at once because I don’t have 5 independent stations! I now start working on scheduling each student during their open time slots at different center rotations.

4. Color code everything.

Color coding makes the schedule pretty, yes, but I do it for more reasons than to just look nice. Color coding the schedule helps me quickly see that everyone is scheduled for 1:1 work, independent work, or any other specifics that I want them to do during the school day. Above, you’ll notice for this schedule each slot that is gray is a group non-negotiable that everyone participates in each day. Yellow is for 1:1 work, blue for independent work, pink for fine motor work, and green for encore (specials) with their regular ed class.

5. Make a schedule for your paras.

Writing a schedule for your paraprofessionals will save you so much time and THEY will appreciate it as well. Would you want to go to work having no idea what you’re going to do all day? Absolutely not. This is a great way to make sure you have enough hands during different time slots as well.

This schedule isn’t anything pretty, but it gets the job done. Everyone knows what they should be doing at all times which also limits down time for chit chat to happen!


Your schedule isn’t going to be the same on day 2 or even day 13. If you aren’t changing it at least once, there’s probably something wrong. It’s often hard to know how things will work when you just look at them on paper. Little things such as “student A” can’t appropriately work next to “student B” at this time so maybe you move student B to fine motor, etc. Speech, OT, and PT usually change on me quite a few times for the first month or two as well. I try to be totally flexible with them as they have more than just my kiddos to work into their (insane) schedule! The revisions will eventually stop and you will find your groove. Promise. 🙂

Do you write your schedule similarly? What do you do differently? I’d love to hear how everyone schedules their school day! Click below to read on about how Stephanie from Mrs. D’s Corner schedules for her class!

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