Parents, Teachers and IEP Teams, It's time to ask...
What is the child's schedule?
It wasn’t until I worked on the inside of the school system, as a special education teacher, that I realized what a balancing act it was to coordinate everyone’s schedule. I had a classroom of 5 students that were my responsibility all day and each of those students had at minimum 3 different therapies each. Then add in inclusion time, recess, bathroom breaks, and the individual needs of each student and it turned into organized chaos. Every child received their minutes of services from me and their therapists, but was it done in the most effective way? Honestly, I don’t know. I hope so. I made the best effort to make sure the schedule was working, every day, but in reality… nobody ever questioned me.
A child’s schedule was barely touched on between teachers, admins & parents, in my district. However, it was an everyday concern between me and my support staff in the classroom. We were in the grind everyday making sure all requirements of the IEP were met. No matter what. Nobody really checked in on how, as long as it got done.
Now, many years later, from the “outside” I can see it so clearly. A schedule makes or breaks a child’s day. A child’s schedule is one of the first things I look at when a parent or district approaches me to problem solve. Over the last 20 years, schedules for student’s have not gotten easier. They may have even gotten more difficult when you consider the amount of standardized testing and curriculum demands that have been added.
Just recently, I asked a long time client of mine to check in on her child’s daily schedule. Behaviors were going in a negative direction. Progress was stalling. Everyone was exhausted, including the student. It turns out, the child was transitioning twice as much in his school day compared to his typical peers.
Now, we know where to to start in stabilizing his behaviors and increasing his progress. We must simplify. We must find a way for the child to receive his special education instruction, inclusion experiences, therapy supports and peer interaction in a way that does not require him running all over the school every 45 minutes.
Teachers & Parents - Lift yourself out of the everyday hustle of getting everything accomplished and view the child’s school day from their perspective. From the time they step on campus to the time they return home. What is their experience?
Have a team member journal the child’s day from start to finish. Every transition, every “change in command” of the instructor switching, every time a child must change directions in their thoughts and work and switch to a new path in their school day. Be aware, sometimes the biggest transitions happen inside of classroom without the child every leaving.
IEP Team - It’s time to ask each other - What does the child’s school day look like?
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