Starting a New Classroom: Where to Begin
I am a new Special Education Elementary Teacher who is responsible for starting up a new support classroom for students with significant learning needs. My students spend a great deal of their day with me in the classroom and only leave for specials. There is so much to do to pull together this class. I have so many ideas of how I want it to be to best support my students however I am feeling overwhelmed and don’t know where to start. Please advise…..
It is not uncommon for teachers (new or seasoned) to feel overwhelmed with all the tasks needed to start a new classroom. Consider using the Watson Classroom Planning Checklist (see resources below). This checklist prioritizes the minimum that should occur in a start up classroom. It includes the following 5 sections:
1) IEP At a Glance
2) Independent Work Stations
5) Data collection
The Watson Classroom Planning Checklist helps teachers prioritize the tasks that ought to happen when developing a new classroom.
- Child's Age: 6-10, 11-13, 14-17
- Planning Effort: High
- Difficulty Level: Moderate
Classroom resources and materials
1. Develop an IEP AT A GLANCE for each of your students.
- This should be limited to 1 page and include the following sections: 1) bulleted goals, 2) strengths, 3) motivators, and 4) specially designed instruction.
- These documents should be posted for classroom staff to have quick access to along with student data sheets. This document can also be shared with inclusion and specials teachers.
- The document is utilized to create the classroom including centers and independent work jobs.
- See Documents and Related Resources for related situation on this site.
2. Develop independent work stations for each of your students.
- Work stations are organized with some symbol the student can access to denote beginning and end.
- A picture or written cue or object is provided at the end of the visual system to denote what happens when the work is completed.
- Visual organization for each station is provided (bins, shelving, etc. )
- An organizational system for independent work storage has been developed.
- See Documents and Related Resources for link to a related situation on this site.
3. Develop learning centers.
- A minimum of 5 centers from a possible 9 should be available. Possibilities include Language Master, Listening Center, Writing Center, Manipulative center, Sensory Area, Quiet/Leisure area (books, magazines, CD player), Art area, Leisure for older students with games, books, magazines, CD’s, academic centers, work task centers.
- Clearly label center areas with visual supports as needed.
- Choose materials based on information about the student from IEP at a Glance.
4. Develop Schedules (Schedules are a very important task to accomplish at the start of school as students begin to recognize and take comfort in the routines and activities in their environment.)
- Develop a visual schedule of the general day and post were it is visible and can be accessed.
- Develop an individual schedule appropriate to each student that can be accessed daily.
- Develop a schedule for paraprofessionals and other support staff and post.
- If Velcro pictures are used as schedules, develop an organized storage system.
5. Develop Data system(s).
- Develop a system ( i.e., clipboard, notebook, or other organized system) for each student.
- Develop data sheets that are prepared and ready to use for each GOAL/objective/benchmark on the IEP.
Documents and Related Resources
Matching Work Systems (related situation on this site)
IEP At a Glance (related situation on this site)
Setting up a Structured Classroom (Watson Institute Resource)
If you have questions or concerns about the Watson Institute’s use of this information, please contact us.