organization, Paperwork, Special Education Classroom, Tips

Your Organization Doesn’t Need to Be Pretty, It Just Needs to Work!

After drooling over Aly from Just a Primary Girl’s classroom, I impulsively bought the Trofast from Ikea. I had no idea what I was going to do with it, but I just needed to have one.

Cue 6 weeks later. The storage system is sitting in the front of my classroom, begging to be used. When I was trying to figure out how to store all the different pretty workbooks my kids have, it clicked! There are 9 drawers on the Trofast. I have 8 students. I assigned one student to a bin and now we store their workbooks and any other uncompleted work in their drawer.IMG_3019.JPG

I use Aly’s Spelling Activities for Any List, so we pop those workbooks in the drawers. I also put my Fall Writing Journals in the bins, and Delightfully Dedicated Special Education workbooks. Some of the bins have leftover work in them as well. I had a student out for a week, so all the work he missed is in his bin.

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Everyone in my classroom is color coded. I bought a roll of duct tape in each color (such a great investment). Instead of trying to make pretty labels and printing them in color and finding a way to attach them, I stuck a piece of colored duct tape on each bin. Not the prettiest, but everyone knows which bin is theirs and staff can easily pull work.

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Look how easy this is! When my paraprofessional has an extra 10 minutes with a student because his inclusion ended early, she can pull out his orange bin and have work appropriate for him at her fingertips. The silver drawer is filled with generic extras (basic math, cut and paste worksheets, writing journals) that work for several students. If a student bin is empty, my para will know to go to the silver bin to find work.

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Your color coding or labeling does not have to be pretty-it just has to work! How else do you use a Trofast bin in your classroom?

organization, Special Education Classroom, sub plans, Tips

Sub Plans in a Self-Contained Classroom

We all want our classrooms to run smoothly, but it becomes even more important to me when I am not there. It is always hard when you a missing a team member, so I try and do a lot before hand to ensure everything runs well.

The first thing I do is write a schedule. When I’m out, I don’t usually have my sub do my job in it’s entirety. There are some things that are easier to have one of my paraprofessionals do. For example, I opted to have my sub take two students to Adaptive PE on Thursday and I had my paraprofessional run my reading group instead.

Once I have the schedule written out, I create sub plans for each person. Even though my paraprofessionals know the routine, I write out what they are doing that day specifically just to help them

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I did something new this time around. I pulled together all the materials needed and left them in bins. I didn’t want them running around trying to find the materials needed for math. Each bin was labeled with the student names during that group, which day the materials were for (Thursday, Friday or both days) and the time. For example, a bin might say “Nicole Math Thursday and Friday 8:30 am). This was they could just walk over, grab the bin and be ready for that lesson.

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Once I had the bins set up, I printed off a copy of the sub plans. I read through each sub plan to ensure they had all they needed. Once I confirmed a box was done (i.e. all the materials for music class were in the bin) I crossed it off. If I found something I had forgotten (like printing the cut and paste books) I highlighted it. This helped me make sure everything was accounted for.

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I stocked up on some independent work to do during some of the centers. I prepped the Fall Cut and Paste books from Especially Education and the Camping Math and Camping ELA books from Delightfully Dedicated Special Education. I also left copies of the Fall Sentences with Visuals and Fall Comprehension Sheets from School Bells N Whistles and Phonics Based Writing Journal from Teaching is a Royal Adventure.

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I also always leave a fun activity for the substitute to do with my class. This time I left a moon sand experiment. The visual directions came from Mrs. D’s Corner Visual Sensory Experiments. I got pictures of my class completing the activity, it looks like they had a lot of fun!

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It takes a while to get sub plans like this set up, but it was completely worth it to me. I was able to relax on my vacation because I knew everyone knew what to do and where to find the materials to do it. Here’s to taking back our personal days, using them and enjoying every second that we have!

Sped Prep, Teachers Pay Teachers, Tips

3 Tips to Prep the Big Items

How many of you have at least one BIG product sitting in your purchases on TPT because you are too overwhelmed to download it and start working? I have been there and I’m still there! I’m bad about buying too many things on sales and then getting overwhelmed by how much there is to prep.

I’ve made it my mission this year to start utilizing more of the resources I have purchased. Here are three simple tips to help you get started, too!

Just print what you need right now

Go in and download just the pieces you need right now. I use this trick for Stephanie from Mrs. D’s Corner‘s Adapted Work Binders. I have a mini obsession with her work binders and I tend to buy pretty much each one she posts. I still have a bunch sitting in my purchases unopened because I can’t find the time to prep the whole thing. Instead of picking one binder and doing all of it, I decide to look through them all and choose certain activities.

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I have her Adapted Music Binder, but I’m not going to be teaching all of the concepts in the binder right away. We are starting with our percussion unit, so I just went in and printed the materials that align to that concept. When I change topics, I’ll go in and print the next set.

 

Create a prep flow that works for you

I use this trick when prepping Michaela from Especially Education‘s task boxes. (Okay, I’ll confess, my husband came up with this work flow). For this one, I do print off everything in the file and laminate it right away. I take one “task box” material at a time and cut it on my paper-cutter, then I organize it in a tub. I keep cutting one box worth of items at a time and adding it to the tub.

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Once everything is cut, I put away the laminator and paper-cutter and move on to Velcro. Again, I just pull out one box of material at a time, Velcro it, and add it to a beautiful rainbow container. This method is not always going to work for you or for the product you are prepping. Especially if you buy any sort of growing bundle, figure out the prep routine that works best for that product and stick to it!

 

 Make a running list

It can be really hard to prep when you don’t even know what is in your purchases. I keep a running Google Doc that lists the product name, seller, and how many pages are in the document. I don’t necessarily print all the pages. For example, I am only going to print one level of the “-wh” question flip books from Simply Special Ed, so I won’t be prepping all 177 pages. I still list 177 pages because it will take me time to go through and pin down what I need.

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I do this to use my time more effectively. When I have six hours and a great Netflix lined up on Friday night? I want to use that time to tackle a big project like the Pumpkin Independent Work Binder System from Autism Adventures. If I pop a lasagna in the oven and have just an hour until it’s ready? Maybe I’ll choose a smaller project like the Sight Word Laminate Velcro and Go tasks from You Aut-A-Know to get started.

I hope these three tips help you start to conquer some of those big items sitting in your purchases! What other tips do you have?