Set Up Your Room As If You Won't Be There!

Say what?! You read the title correctly! It is important to set your classroom up so that it can run well even when you are not in the room.

Set up classroom system and routines, so that your classroom can run smoothly when you are not in the room.


Recently, I had the opportunity to observe a program that is similar to mine. We both have self-contained elementary classrooms, we have similar training and we each have 4 teaching assistants. The difference? The other teacher is needed to answer EVERY question and to make EVERY decision. When you are the only person to have all of the information, you are needed to be in the room and available at all times. I don't know about you, but there is no way I could be available to answer every question from my paras, therapists, students, administration and anyone else that wanders into my classroom...oh, yeah & teach! I wouldn't be able to get anything done! 

Set up systems and routines

It is important to set a system for how you want things to be run in your classroom. One you decide on the system, TRAIN your staff on how to do it. In my classroom, I could be asked to step out at any given minute... for meetings, CPS, a parent, etc. To make sure my classroom is able to continue on without me, I have the day's lesson plans on my desk at all times. Here is what my binder is open to at all times:


You can read more about how I create my lesson plans by clicking HERE. On the left side of my binder, I keep my schedule for all of the therapies that my students get. If a therapist comes in and wants to know if a student is available at a certain time anyone can look at the schedule. This system helps reduce my interruptions to my instruction.

As you can see, my lesson plans are pretty straight forward and easy. My system for making sure you can find all of the materials you need for every lesson is even easier!!

Click {HERE} to read more about the easiest lesson planning system ever!

Another great way to ward of questions and interruptions and to plan ahead and post information staff need. Make sure you post it in a place they see regularly and can freely get to. Examples of things to plan & post are when are breaks and lunches for paras, before and after school duties for paras, times that therapists can't pull students, etc. If you aren't sure what else to plan for, start making a list of the reasons why someone or something interrupted your lessons. As soon as possible, make a plan for those items, train others on the plan and post the plan if possible.

It is challenging to be a teacher...especially a special ed. teacher! Our students need more intense and direct instruction. My students are HIGHLY distractable, and can't regain attention easily after there is an interruption. We must plan ahead and design a program that meets their needs just like our instruction does.

Do you have a way to reduce interruptions or an easy system? Please SHARE in the comments!!!

Set up classroom system and routines, so that your classroom can run smoothly when you are not in the room.

7 comments

  1. Yes!!! Completely agree!! Our classrooms need to run smoothly and it is all about our setup and organization! Great post!

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    1. Thanks! It's so important for people to understand for the classroom and their own sanity!!

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  2. I completely agree, but at the same time find this nearly impossible to accomplish! At my school, the related service providers and therapists schedule my students dead-last -- after they've already scheduled all the other non-self-contained students in the building. Their theory is that my students can be pulled whenever because they don't have to follow the same regimented schedule as the rest of the building...so I have almost no instructional time where I actually have the students I need. It is really frustrating and sad to be last on the totem pole :(

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  3. Yes! Our classrooms have to be able to be run by any paraprofessional at any given moment. I train my paras not only on my schedule, but also on filler and alternative activities, just in case. I also teach flexibility in task changing from day one (for both students and adults). Of course this is a goal most of my students work on through the year, but we can avoid breakdowns and issues by purposefully interrupting class for good reasons and rewarding students for responding well to unavoidable changes. This one thing has been my saving grace!

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    1. Teaching flexibility and change is a biggie in my classroom, too! So important!!!!

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  4. I switched to a self-directed classroom about 4 years ago... Transformative. Finally able to teach as I'd always envisioned... I teach 7th & 8th grade science so pretty different--but even at that age they're happy to let you do all the work if you choose. It takes some prep to set up your classroom like this, but I thoroughly applaud and cheer on those who do ;)

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    1. Self-directed classroom- love that!! Love hearing how it's worked in regular ed classrooms, too!
      Pam

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