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A Day in the Life of a Special Education Teacher

A Day in the Life of a Special Education Teacher

Special education teachers have the opportunity to work with students who are unique and extrodinary.

April Morrison |

A Day in the Life as a Special Education Teacher: Kindergarten-2nd grade, self-contained classroom for children with behavioral needs (8:1:1).

7:30-Enter school, unlock my classroom, revise the day’s lessons according to what was accomplished the day before, prepare materials for the day, write morning message on the board and morning work problems

8:00-Go to the office/mailbox, try to catch the principal if there were issues/concerns that need to be addressed, take calls from parents if needed, swing by the copy room to make copies or pick up pre-ordered copies, collaborate with OT or Speech teacher if needed, and continue prepping for the day.

8:30-Teacher assistant arrives in the classroom, collaborate with her (or him) about the day’s lessons and goals. The teacher assistant has a morning routine consisting of resetting the visual schedule (picture cards for each student and their activities for the day on a large pocket chart), assignment cards (reading, writing, math, science, and social studies each child will remove and put in a “Done Can” through out the day as accomplished), and visual behavior management chart (Smilies).

8:45-Student Aides (1:1 Aides) arrive in the classroom, get briefed about the day’s activities, discuss concerns, and prepare for the day.

8:50-Teacher assistant and student aides retrieve the classroom’s students from their buses. Some children enter school during general dismissal in the front of the school, other students, on a specific bus, have to wait until all other busses have been unloaded and are released to the teacher assistant, and other students are dropped off at the back of the school.

8:50-I remain in the classroom, greeting each student at the door with a warm “Good morning”. The students begin their morning routine of putting their belongings in their cubbies, taking out their homework and teacher/parent journal placing them on a designated desk, use the bathroom, wash their hands, and sit at their assigned seat to eat breakfast.

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9:00-I take attendance using InfiniteCampus (computer program), read through the teacher/parent journals (reply if needed), quickly look over homework and file for later, and join the students (still eating breakfast), teacher assistant, and student aides at the t-shaped arrangement of assigned seats. We all read Marva Collin’s “Affirming Pledge to Self” (every morning) and students think about a goal to set for themselves for the day (usually about appropriate behaviors they are having trouble with). I write down each student’s goal on the top of a new sheet of paper with the behavior management template that will go in the student’s teacher/parent binder at the end of the day.

9:10-School announcements begin including the Pledge of Allegiance.

9:15-From the job chart students are directed to clean-up breakfast, take items to the office or other teacher, everyone washes their hands, and gathers for morning meeting on the carpet.

9:25-Morning meeting begins. I pick a student to be calendar helper (usually in rotation). The calendar helper picks the next number (date) and attaches it to the calendar, also places the days of the week in the boxes labeled “today is”, “yesterday was”, and tomorrow will be” with a magnet. The other students are using dry erase markers and a template that outline the same activity the calendar helper is doing. Some other students maybe using dry erase markers for tracing their names, the date, and day of the week on pieces of laminated sentence strips (modification). When everyone is done, we all go over the date, days of the week, months of the year, seasons, dress the bear according to today’s weather, chart the weather (bar graph), add another penny to the bank (convert pennies to nickels, nickels to dimes, etc. if needed), add another link to the chain in a pattern chosen for the month (AB, AABB, ABBA, etc.), count on the counting chart by ones, twos, fives, and tens.

9:45-Morning message. The message contains mistakes in capitalization, punctuation, and spelling. I read the message as it should be. The student take turns correcting the mistakes by coming up to the chalkboard. To end Morning meeting we read Chicken Soup with Rice (repeated reading). I individually ask each student what comes next (according to their visual schedule) and students are directed to put their morning meeting card in the done can, get a sticker from the container (usually corresponds with time of year) and sit at their seat.

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