Creating a classroom schedule is one of the most important tasks we do to prepare for a successful school year. The schedule sets the tone for the classroom, makes sure we are compliant in meeting all the services designed through the IEP, and keeps the room organized. Here are a few tips for creating a class schedule.
7 Steps to creating an IEP compliant classroom schedule
Before you create a schedule.
Pull student IEP documents and review the services documented throughout the IEP. It is imperative that the schedule follows the services outlined in the IEP. It is also helpful to have the school master schedule available as a reference while creating your schedule.
Start with inclusion and electives.
As a self-contained teacher, our schedules are basically blank slates. That’s why I always start by thinking about when my students will be out of the room. What is the best time to schedule electives? Talk to coaches, music teachers, etc. to find out what times will be best for inclusion (most caring students, smaller groups, extra support, etc). Then block that time of on your schedule for electives. This will probably be your conference period. Who is the best teacher to provide inclusion for your students who will be in general education for inclusion time throughout the day? Talk to that teacher to find out when she teaches the classes your students will be included in, and work with the counselors to ensure your student is in her class at that time. Then mark that time on your classroom schedule. Try to teach that subject at the same time your student will be in inclusion if possible.
Determine when you will have support in your classroom.
If you have students in inclusion, there may be support staff from your room that goes to inclusion too. Support staff may also be pulled for lunch duty, bus duty, and breaks. Sometime throughout the day, you may have additional instructional and related service providers in your room. Highly differentiated subject areas like reading and math should be scheduled when you have the most support in the classroom. That way you have more opportunities for direct instruction and small groups. Find out when you will have maximum support, and schedule reading, math, and other chaotic times (toileting, feeding, etc) when you will have the most support in the room. It might help to even pencil in students that might be part of each small group. Mark these subject areas and times on your schedule.
Think about activities that your students could do independently when there is not support in the classroom. Can students complete independent reading, snack time, computer time, etc. with minimal supervision? If so, schedule those activities at times that you know limited support will be available in the classroom.
Plug the remaining subject areas and student services from the IEP into the schedule.
Try to block chunks of time for each subject area if possible. Depending on student inclusion schedules and the number of grade levels you serve, it is possible that you might have one group in instruction for one subject area while another group is receiving instruction in another subject. If you have to do this, it works best to have reading and social studies instruction at the same time or science and math instruction at the same time. In a perfect world, all students would be in the same subject at the same time, but in self-contained special education classes, this isn’t always possible. It is most important that each student have the correct number of minutes of instruction per their schedule of service.
Don’t forget about staff breaks and lunches.
In most states, these are required per union and/or state regulations. Be sure to document breaks on the schedule.
Finally, check your work.
Make sure your class schedule allows you to provide all the services and specially designed instruction mandated on each student’s IEP.
Follow these simple steps and your class will be well on its way to an organized learning epicenter!