Establishing Routines At The Beginning Of The School Year

While it doesn't always look like it, our students crave structure. To make the back to school weeks go smoothly, it is important to establish structure and routines from the first day of school. Not only will this set the class up for success, it will help students become more independent.

Routines Of The Schedule

Begin by deciding which routines you want students to know for the rest of the school year. While there are a lot of routines we want students to know, prioritizes the routines that students will need to know for the rest of the school year. In special ed., we often have more information on students than general education teachers. Use that information to help you prioritize.

Since my students all have difficulty with transitions, I work on teaching transition routines from day one. Even though we aren't going to do any real work the first week of school I try to keep the structure of the what will be our normal schedule. For example, eventually, we will be doing work centers or direct instruction every morning for an hour with a 3 minute "cash in" time in the middle. I want to establish this routine on day one, so we work on completing a task at the centers and then switching. Since it is the beginning of the school year, the activities we are doing are mostly fun.

Behavior Management System Routines

Every special education class should have a behavior management system of some sort in their program. In my program, we use a token economy system. One of the things I like about the system is it is based on positive reinforcement. 

Within the token economy system, students will need to know how to earn pennies, where to get the picture of the reinforcer, when to "cash in" etc. These are all things I work on teaching (or reviewing if you have had any of these students before) the first day of school. 

Arrival & Dismissal Routines

It is important to teach students when and how to unpack and pack their book bags. Is there a check-in procedure that they will need to complete? Do students bring you a notebook or hand in homework? Teach every single little step now to help students be successful and move towards independence. 

Teaching arrival and dismissal routines will also help you determine which of your students will need supports to complete the steps independently. For example, one of my students was able to pack up and get ready for the bus if he had someone telling him what to do at each step. Not only will this make him prompt dependent, I don't have time to talk students through each routine. Instead, I created a visual schedule just for arrival/dismissal routines.

Next steps: 
         1. Pin this post for future reference.
         2. Scroll down for other blog posts that are helpful for the beginning of the school year. 

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