Saturday, February 7, 2009

Scheduling update

I posted awhile ago about how our schedule was going to change drastically at the start of second semester when my program morphed into a dual middle and high school program. So far our crazy, chaotic routine is working well for us.

Our mornings always start the same with breakfast or peer time/leisure skills followed by Morning Meeting at 8:30 (you can find my Morning Meeting routine on Adapted Learning; log in to access the specific file).

After Morning Meeting we launch into two hours of Rotations. Each staff member not going on community outings has a "specialty" area: Academics/Cognitive Development; Computer Instruction; Assistive Technology; Physical Therapy/Gross Motor Skills; and Structured Sensory-Leisure/Assessment (this one is my area). Communication and Fine Motor Skills are embedded into the other areas. Rotations last 20-30 minutes depending on if we have 4 or 5 that day because of community outings. This is intensive 1:1 time for the kids and the short, highly structured sessions seem to be working well. And because of my "specialty" area, I can usually free up time to work with individual staff members within their areas AND I don't have to worry about training everyone on how to take state assessment data.

Rotations take us to lunch programs. I have 4 out of 6 students who prepare their own meals; the other 2 use g-tubes and have medication and other issues that result in the need for an extended rest break at about this time each day. Following lunch the kids get a 30 minute Independent Leisure break while the adults sneak in lunch.

At 12:30 the kids do chores (laundry, dishes, wipe tables, etc.) then we gather for a Group time activity (art, cooking, literature, game, etc.). Group generally takes about an hour, and then it's time to do bathroom trips and get ready to go home.

We also have each day categorized to make sure we cover all the academic areas, everything on their IEPs, and essential State Assessment skills. Mondays are dedicated to Math related skills, Tuesdays to Writing, Wednesdays to Reading, and Friday is still Sensory Fun Day.

Sounds pretty straight forward, huh? EXCEPT we also have an active Community Based Instruction program:
On Mondays ALL high school-age students (grade 9 and up) go to a nearby high school to participate with same age peers in Circle of Friends activities. Currently that involves 2 students and staff. In the afternoon 3 students go grocery shopping for their weekly food supplies (the fourth student who does meal prep follows a somewhat strict diet so his mother provides his supplies).
On Tuesdays two students/staff go swimming in the morning at an area YMCA on a rotating schedule. In the afternoon all high school students age 16 or older (currently 1 student) go to the Skill Development Center to work on a variety of Home Living and Vocational skills. We also have Speech in the afternoon.
On Wednesdays the 16 and up group goes to the Skill Development Center in the morning, prepares and eats lunch there, then goes to an area YMCA to participate in an exercise program.
On Thursdays the whole class goes out into the community, sometimes together and sometimes in groups of 3 students/staff. We go bowling, to a special movie showing dedicated to patrons with unique special needs, to the video arcade, to the mall, to a nail salon, etc.
On Fridays we stay at school BUT this is our "peer day." It is also "therapy day" as we have both Speech and Physical Therapy. Peers come one class period in the morning for "hang out" time (these kids are from the alternative learning class and work to earn the opportunity to join us) and right after lunch for slightly more structured activities (currently they are helping with Wizard of Oz activities).

This schedule is hectic and makes a lot of work for me in planning, organizing, and preparing materials, but it's been good for the class. The kids don't get stagnant and bored with their programming, the adults are on their toes all the time, and everyone gets a break from the over crowded conditions of our classroom at some point in the week. That goes a long long way to reducing the inevitable tensions that arise when people spend so much time in such close proximity (believe me when I say that is a whole other post!). I'll admit it's been hard for me to release so much control. Up until now I've always been everywhere the kids are. We pretty much did everything as a group and I knew what was going on all the time. Not that I don't trust my paras, because I absolutely do, but it's just not the same as me being there. However, the "release of power" has been good for me too. Other than when I have to go to start new programs, solve problems, or evaluate success, life is actually a bit less crazy for me. Or maybe I'm just used to it by now. Who knows?

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