How Do I do this again? The Scheduling Nightmare that is Sped Life!

I did this last year, right?

I made a schedule for myself, the students, paras, it had inclusion time, academic service minutes, and everything else you could ever need. .. like you know lunch breaks. On it right?

How did I do it again? How did I make a schedule that fit all the grades schedules, so I am not pulling from any non-negotiable times so that students still feel like a part of their class? But are also getting the academic and speech, and behavior, and OT times they need in order to be successful? Did I give my para’s meaningful work to do not just busy work right?

How? How did I do this? Did it really get done or did a magical scheduling fairy appear and do it for me and then wiped my memory clean so I felt like I did it myself?

I would take a magical scheduling fairy right about now because I am on draft four of my schedule for the year and I just feel like crying! How in the world is it all going to get done in the time allotted? How?

Other people in the sped world, do your in-service days get destroyed by the beast that is scheduling as well?

How do you do it? What makes your schedule run well? Or do we all wipe our memories clean after this every Spring so that we are crazy enough to do it again every Fall?

If you have a formula that works and doesn’t make you want to pull your hair out or your eyes go crossed from staring at your spreadsheet all day. .. PLEASE let me know!!!

-Rae

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Live Like It’s Spring!

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Live like it’s Spring. . . Spring. . .what does it mean to live like it is Spring? What does Spring represent? New life, growth, change, the warming of the seasons and the growth of the flowers. The way that everything seems to have possibilities as the world emerges from the snow and glum of winter? If you live somewhere that doesn’t have seasons, none of this Spring talk probably hits you in the feels, but for me a Colorado turned California mountain girl, it gets me.

 

Last summer was the first summer since I was 15 that I wasn’t working. I didn’t work summer school, or camp, I wasn’t working part-time at a pizza place or movie theatre. I was a teacher, on full on teacher summer. I had June, July, and part of August to just relax, do some DIY projects and hang out with my husband. Older teacher friends applauded me for taking the summer and talked about how I needed it to recharge after the crazy year in Special Education that I had. I was excited to sleep in, forget what day of the week it was, and maybe drink wine during the week without a reason.

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That lasted about a week. . .

After about a week I was BORED, I needed something to keep me occupied that wasn’t burning through 2 books on the “Hot Summer Reading List”  a week! I watched as other teacher friends my age went on hikes and to the pool and on road trips. .. all without inviting me. My best friends all moved across the country one by on to the Pacific Northwest  and I was feeling alone. Making friends as an adult. . .. SUCKS! I watched people I thought were my friends live a Teacher Summer like I thought I was supposed to live. But that teacher summer was only leaving me feeling like a 16-year-old girl who didn’t get invited to the prom.

 

Fast Forward to this summer, I am again taking the summer off. I have spent the summer hosting guests, going on one of those road trips that would have made me cry last summer. And spent many days paddle boarding on the lake 5 minutes from my house.

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SO what has changed? And what does it say about “Living like it’s Spring”

Well in my life, a lot has changed and a lot as stayed the same; we moved from CO to a tiny town in CA, I have a new job at a much different school. But I am still married, my best friends still live 1000 miles away from me, I live in a place with fewer options of activities throughout the day, but this summer I spend my days peacefully not full of anxiety about what I “should” be doing.

 

So I ask again, What has changed?

Me!

I have figured out how to live like it’s spring! Live like something new is always growing, something could change right around the corner. No matter how gray the sky is now, no matter how many feet of snow the winter dumps on you. Remember to live like tomorrow the sun is going to come out and you can jump into the lake! I still don’t love Summer, I still need a project to keep myself active, I still would make a horrible trophy wife. But I am content with here I am in life now, I am not comparing myself to the people around me and wondering “why they don’t like me” or why I wasn’t invited to this or that (Okay I still do both of those things sometimes) But somehow my life ended up somewhere I never pictured, In a tiny town 60 miles from the closest grocery store. Where I could name almost every full-time resident of the town and during the winter there is literally NO restaurants open during the week. But I also can’t remember a time since college that I have been this content in how all the pieces of my life fit together. I love waving to people as I walk through town, I love having dinner by the lake and knowing at least 10 people sit around me. I love having the sense of community that comes with living in a place where we all are forced to do life together without our cell phones.

 

My life looks nothing like I thought it would a year ago, but Hey maybe it is Spring.

I am just over here watching myself Bloom!

 

Watch Them Grow with Growth Bins!

Hello from “Teacher Summer”. . . where we spend all of our days drinking margaritas and lounging on the beach, while we laugh at our friends that are still working. And we never spend our days in teacher trainings or anxiously trying to plan how to move classrooms in two days before the students come, we never start back to school planning in the middle of July right? No, no that would mean we work during the summer. and that could never happen. . .  right?

Now Welcome to Real Teacher Summer where at least part of our days are spent thinking about, planing and anxiously awaiting next years students, and if you are like me, you are trying to get some of your back to school planning done on those amazing free days you get. Enter my new multi-syllabic word flash cards!

This year I am  moving into a new position and as a result I am going to try something new. I have been teaching a self contained special education classroom for students in 3-5 grade for the last 3 years. This year I am going to be teaching intervention and resource room students with mild to moderate disabilities in grades K-12. Yep K-12 terrifies me as I think, how will I meet all their needs, how will I put students in groups, how will I help students in such a wide range succeed. Then I found a blog about IEP boxes, you can read the original post here, http://www.thebenderbunch.com/2016/06/iep-tubs.html

She was using these tubs as she called them for an elementary classroom, actually a self contained classroom but I thought this could help with some of my anxiety and allow me to hit multiple students in multiple grade levels during overlapping times and still be working directly on their goals. So this summer I have been building these boxes. I am going through each students IEP goals and finding different activities to hit these goals and still keep students organized. Within each student’s box will be a classroom timer like these ones.  Which I guess are really kitchen timers I got on amazon for 14.00 for a pack of three.
Many students will be working independently on fluency or in partner pairs with another student or myself of an aid. They will be using these timers for self timed, math work, fluency work, or just to set a timer for how long their independent work in their My Growth Bins. For some students the time .set on these timers will grow throughout the year so they can increase their independent work time, for some students it will simply be a way to keep them on track.

The actual work inside each bin will vary depending on specific goals for each student, many of my students in the middle grades are working on fluently reading multisyllabic words, and so I created easy to copy and use flash cards, for these students. These cards contain 2, 3 and 4 syllable words and are scaffolded to included words broken down into syllable and ones that are not in order to help reinforce the strategies students learn to read these words fluently, and then allow them to show growth.

 Here is an example of the flash cards broken down into syllables. I have these hole punched and laminated for easy reuse from student to student.

The students other work varies from math practice, to social skills, and WH questions, and reading fluency and comprehension work. All work that they are able to complete independently for the first 10 minutes or last 10 minutes of our group.

Each student will have a bin that is color coded, without their name on it, this helps some of my older students especially feel less self conscious about the work they are doing. They are able to focus on their own work without being worried about having their name and therefore grade  or age attached.

I use the color coded system in all aspects of my classroom from data binders too graded work and displayed work for multiple reasons but this is a big one. Future blog posts on the color coded life to come!

I plan to use these during overlapping time for each grade level, the way my schedule is set up there are a few minutes where I will have a variety of grade levels in my classroom at one time. This allows me to easily progress monitor goals, make sure that they are working specifically on goals and increase independence. If you are looking for a way to help your students reach these goals please check out my “Growth Bin” products here, http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/store/my-spedtacular-special-heart

You can download the multisyllabic words flash cards for FREE here http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/store/my-spedtacular-special-heart

And follow me on Instagram here @my_spedtacular_special_heart_    for more spedtacular ideas!

I hope you find something helpful to use with your students, whether finding a way to differentiate in an general education classroom, a resource room, or a self contained classroom all students need something a little speducatular!
-Mrs. H