Be Proactive: Staying ahead of the scheduling mayhem

At the beginning of the school year, creating your schedule
as a special educator can be daunting, especially if you are doing a mixture of co-teaching and in resource setting, and
your schedule depends on everyone else’s schedules. Although your schedule
will change throughout the year, getting organized before school starts will
benefit you tremendously, and give you more time to get to know your students and get them into a set routine!

Before the school year begins, I make 2 copies of the IEP
snapshot page {one for GEE minutes and one for SEE minutes}
. This page lists their services {Math, RLA, etc.}, the location
{General Ed GEE or Special Ed SEE}, and the amount of minutes per week {MPW}. You
can also just make of copy of the “services” page where you list the services
and amount of MPW if your state does not do a snapshot page. If only I could show you one, but that would be a big NO NO! 🙁

First, I take multi-colored highlighters and go through to
highlight each subject area on both sets of sheets {i.e. pink – reading, blue – math,
yellow – social skills, green – phonics, purple – testing, etc.}. For the first copy of pages, I focus on the GEE
minutes, and for the second copy, I focus on the SEE minutes. The purpose of
this is to group “like” subjects in “like” locations. In my county, I can group
multi-grade level students together in my resource classroom {SEE minutes}, as long as the SUBJECT {rla, math} area is the same. I
believe it is like this in other states, but I would check with your school’s
principal or special education coordinator to be sure.

Once I have everything highlighted, I go through both sets
of pages {Set 1 – GEE; Set 2 – SEE} and make a chart similar to the ones below.

Made up students! 🙂

Made up students 🙂

Once I have these charts set, I have to collect all the
schedules of the general educators and line all my minutes up with their
schedules. At my school, my principal requires the teachers to turn in their schedules before school starts so I usually get the schedules from her and double check with the teachers that they are correct before I begin. The SEE minutes are a little easier to schedule, but I cannot pull
my students from RLA or MATH or specialist times. At my school, the 3rd
grade team and 4th grade team all have similar schedules, with the
exceptions of specialist times {art, music, gym, etc}. If two 3rd
grade teachers both do reading at the same time, I usually combine students
from both classrooms and we focus on reading in one classroom so they can still
get their minutes. This usually works fine as long as the general educators are
okay with taking on one or two extra students during the reading block. Also,
if the teachers do rotating groups for math or reading, I might have my own
group that students (reg ed and special ed) rotate through with me.

Important things to remember when creating your schedule:

  • Your schedule minutes must be EXACT! If it says 120 MPW, you must ensure that a student is receiving that instruction for that amount of time per week. Your schedule must be set in stone to ensure you are in compliance.
  • If there is a conflict in schedules due to the general educator’s schedule, tell the teacher(s) and your principal immediately. The earlier large schedule changes, the less of a headache for you and everyone else.   
  • Be sure to schedule yourself planning time (A MUST) and extra IEP paperwork time if you can. Even 15 minutes a day scheduled for paperwork can save you from taking a lot of work home and can give you time to meet with general ed teachers/contact parents if needed.  Try not to overdo it, as you will most likely end up feeling burnt out by the middle of the school year!
  • In my county, 120 MPW does not mean you have to schedule every day on those minutes. If it works better to do 40 minutes three days a week rather than 24 minutes five days per week, then do it!
  • Your schedule will most likely have small (hopefully not large) changes throughout the year as annual IEP’s are held, student’s goals change, and you have transfers. That is the nature of SPED, so there is no need to fret over it!

Although scheduling can be tough, it can also be a blessing
if you are allowed to create your own. If you are more productive in the
morning, schedule your planning in the morning. If you like to do math in the
afternoon, schedule your SEE math in the afternoon. The world is your oyster
{as long as you adhere to the IEP}!  🙂

Click here to read a post I wrote for All Things Upper Elementary about Collaborating with General Educators in the Classroom

If you have any other questions about scheduling or would like me to post on something specific, feel free to leave a comment or shoot me an e-mail through the “Contact Me!” button above.

I hope everyone is thoroughly enjoying their summer!

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  1. Amber Aslakson on July 19, 2013 at 3:26 am

    Thanks for sharing! Scheduling is always one of the hardest tasks. In the past I have had to schedule across 4 grade levels with 2 of the grade levels having different schedules which lead to 6 different time tables in the building. I am happy this year to only have 5/6 since we are trying something new this year by splitting the grade levels up instead of by disability. I will still sit in on LD IEPs for 7/8 as the EBD teacher will sit in on my 5/6 EBD IEPs. In Minnesota anyone can provide service as long as the person with the licensure is a part of the IEP team. I do not mind since before I came here I had a mild/moderate cross categorical license anyway. The majority of my direct instruction is in my room during science, social studies, and study hall. I do teach a replaced reading at the 5 and 6th level along with a 6th grade math. I am going to try teaching a short assitive technology block for 7th and 8th graders in the morning during homeroom time as well. I wish we could get credit for AT and resource room support for tests on our IEPs. I also think special ed teachers should get paperwork time outside of prep. We do all of our own reevaluations for the most part along with helping on initials as needed. Best of luck starting your new school year, and sorry about the novel 🙂

    • Mrs. Dixon on July 19, 2013 at 11:22 pm

      I'm so thankful I can schedule some time for paperwork, as it helps tremendously during the beginning/end of the year. Initials and re-evals can be stressful too. Best of luck to you! Thanks for your comment, I liked reading it! 🙂

  2. Laura Kirschner on July 19, 2013 at 4:19 am

    My goodness, you are organized! Your TPT products are beautiful too. I am a resource specialist in CA.

    • Mrs. Dixon on July 19, 2013 at 11:23 pm

      Why, thank you! I am heading over to check you out now!! I love meeting other sped bloggers! 🙂

  3. castro1m on July 26, 2013 at 12:56 am

    Hi! I just ran across your blog, since I was hoping and praying I can find someone who wasn't so negative about special ed. Your blog and schedule papers are great. I am going to teach special ed for the first time this coming year. I have previously taught first grade for 10 years. I am so excited and nervous at the same time. Do you mind giving me any advice of what I should be doing at the beginning of the school year as far as organzation or any other suggestions would be helpful. I am a Texas teacher who just started following you. Thank you for creating and sharing your ideas.

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