Every special education classroom looks different based on the needs of students. After visiting many different special education and resource classrooms throughout the years, I found a few items to be consistent in each. Below you will find a few items that appear to be a necessity in a special education classroom.
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Whether working with students on classroom behavior skills or counting down until lunch time, a visual timer is necessary! The concept of “time” can be difficult for lots of kids in a sped/resource class to understand. Providing a visual with a “timed direction” is a great place to start! For example the teacher may say, “I will give you a two minute break and then you need to continue working.” At that point the teacher would set the visual timer for two minutes and place it where the student could see it. Below is a picture of the visual timer I use every day. I have 3 of these timers in my class. Some of my student’s daily routines involve this exact timer! I highly recommend it!
Along with “time”, dates and days-of-the-week can be such abstract concepts. These can be difficult concepts to grasp. In my class, we use the calendar below to not only display the day but for teaching concepts involving dates. For example, my students now understand how many days in a week and weeks in a month through routine practice with this large visual calendar. I have seen calendars like this not only in elementary classrooms, but also in middle school and high school resource classrooms.
The days of sitting still in a hard chair all day long, are long gone! Alternative seating is so popular now-a-days that even teachers use it! There are so many different ways you could provide alternative seating in your classrooms. In my classroom, we use weighted yoga balls. These work perfectly! In other classrooms I have seen seat discs, memory foam cushions, bean bag chairs, and much more! Whatever you decide to use in your classroom, I highly recommend that you demonstrate how to use the seat appropriately in your class. I have had too many students see a “yoga ball” in my classroom and want to run and superman across the top of the ball. We posted how-to-use rules and officially call the weighted yoga balls, “round-chairs” in class so the students wouldn’t mistake them for an exercise object.
Pushing towards positive behavior intervention supports, we need positive incentives in our special education classrooms! Incentives come in all shapes and sizes: treats, no homework passes, picks from the prize box, or extra recess time. Among my positive incentives I have charting bulletin boards, a plastic jar with a suction lid to hold treats that students can earn, and a prize box. I buy prizes in bulk bags. Don’t underestimate the older students, they want to earn treats and prizes too!
Oodles of Supplies
Depending on what type of classroom you have, supplies can sometimes run out quicker than expected. If you are lucky enough to have a school that will give you unlimited supplies, that is wonderful! Stock up! But if your school is on a budget, you need to ration your supplies throughout the year. My school gives me some supplies, but I definitely take advantage of purchasing some backups. In my classroom supplies depletes quickly! Pencils are broken, markers are dried out, and we most often use more glue than we need to! If you are in a Learning Center or Resource Room, students are in and out all day. It can be difficult to teach them how to respect your classroom items and to be organized. To read more about teaching students organization skills, click HERE.
Must-Have LIST for SPED/Resource Classroom SNAPSHOT: