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5 Examples of Setting Classroom Schedules in Special Education: Special Ed Summer Blog Hop

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I am really excited to link up with a great group of special education bloggers in a summer blog hop for setting up classrooms.  Come on, you know you are thinking about it….even if you are sitting by the pool.  And my apologies to those of you still in the regular school year….that’s just wrong!  You can rag on the rest when you are still sitting by the pool in August.

Two years ago I did a series on setting up classrooms that walked through all the steps of setting up a special education classroom and I thought I would use this opportunity to hit the highlights of those posts and share some of the examples of schedules I have created for different age groups over the years.  I’ve set up many a classroom at any time of year and schedules have actually become my strength in our team over time.

And, based on feedback from the survey I did of the readers last week, I have created a free download of the examples so you can see them on the blog and you can download them to look at later.  There is also a free Word download that was available as part of that series of the grid I use to create schedules so you can use it for yours.
Everything in setting up the schedule depends on knowing your students.  I review the students’ IEPs and determine what curriculum we need to use.  From that, I can then have some ideas about how long group activities should be, how many small group or individual instruction is needed, etc.  In order to plan out what type of instruction each student needs, I use the Comprehensive Autism Planning System and you can read more about that HERE.

Essentially when I set up a schedule I use a grid that has the day broken down into regular increments–usually 15 minutes (the freebie has blank times and 15 minute times set up for you).  I put the students’ names across the top and the times down the left hand side, like the pictures below.  I follow 5 basic steps when I do a schedule.  You can read about the steps HERE.

I start with the things I can’t change, like specials times for each student (assuming they are different grades).  Then I schedule the student whose engagement and behavior would be most affected by the order of the schedule (that one that needs a work-break-work-break) type of schedule.  Then I schedule the students who can be more flexible.

Below are some schedules to check out.  I’ve written about some of them before so I will put the link in the caption so you can go and check out that post.

preschool autism classroom schedule
This is a preschool schedule.  The greyed out areas are times when that student is not in the classroom.  In this case they are students who only attended part day.  You can get more details about this schedule HERE.

Autism Classroom Schedule
This elementary schedule was a pretty typical classroom but we were lucky that all the students attended specials together and they were scheduled pretty consistently across the week.  That made it much easier to schedule.  You can read about this schedule HERE.
Middle School special education schedule
I included 2 middle school schedule because sometimes I think they are more difficult because the way that scheduling in the school is so different.  This one is an example of a class that had 1 teacher and 1 aide, so there is a longer time in leisure after lunch to allow for lunch breaks.  You can read more about this schedule HERE.

special education self-contained classroom schedule
This one was a classroom that eventually was divided.  We found we needed to divide our group activities because they were just too large a group to keep everyone’s attention during a full group activity.  You can read more about this schedule HERE.
Life Skills classroom schedule
And finally this is a high school classroom that is a typical self-contained classroom with more vocational tasks scheduled.  You can read more about this one and life skills on A Special Sparkle, a collaborative blog I’ve contributed to, HERE.

So, I hope those will give you some ideas about setting up schedules for your classroom and some things to think about while you are sitting by the pool (or the ocean, or the mountains, or teaching ESY).

Click on the cover page below to open a folder that has the Word documents for working on your own schedule and a downloadable printable of the schedules in this example so you can use them.  Many folks noted on the survey that they liked to be able to share for PD or training staff so I will try to do that in the future.

Below are some books I’ve talked about in these posts that might be helpful.  Disclaimer: These are affiliate links.  The books cost you the same but their proceeds help to support me and this blog.

Finally, click on the beach ball to bounce to The Organized Planbook and gather more ideas about creating special education schedules.

Hop through the series….and then go back to the pool!

14 thoughts on “5 Examples of Setting Classroom Schedules in Special Education: Special Ed Summer Blog Hop”

  1. Hey Chris, when it says Reg. Ed in the schedule, does that mean the students attend an inclusive or regular classroom for certain subjects throughout the day? Thanks! Great post!

  2. I have 5 grade levels, and each has diff time for pe daily, as well as weekly computer lab, music, art, library and sometimes science… Makes scheduling crazy!!! Toying w idea of running 2 morning meetings so can customize it more for each age level. Any examples of this type of schedule? Hahaha.

  3. Hi Stacy, actually if you look at the middle school schedule of the class that was eventually broken into two classes, we did that because the students' needs were so different. However, it wouldn't be too hard to do…maybe have the students who are in the second morning meeting do independent work if they are in the classroom and then switch activities when the second morning meeting time comes around. That's a great idea to make it easier to schedule around. That's why I start with those things I can't change, like the daily out of class activities and then figure out what i can schedule around it. Good luck, that is a tough job!

  4. This is a great post I am very blessed to have 4 full time teacher aides the problem I ran into this year was from what I see here was I planned around the staff and not around the student. When I started the year I was a first year teacher and I did not have access to my students IEP's until the first day of school. I was able to do rotations of Aide run stations and 1 on 1 DI and it worked well but I just feel like there are so many things I could have done better to help the students learn more and foster better communication. So seeing your schedule is really helping me tweak mine for the next year. I also purchase your book on setting up classroom so I feel that this year will be a little smoother.

    1. Wow! Thanks so much for commenting and I do hope that all of this and the book are helpful! It would be hard to schedule not knowing your staff. Please feel free to let me know if you have any questions as you go through the planning process.

  5. I forgot to say how much I loved how you shared a variety of schedules for a variety of settings. That is so helpful! I also like how made everything look so pretty! 🙂

  6. Hi Chris, I have a high school self contained classroom with 10 students and 2 non functioning paras. My physical classroom is very small so no room to move around. I’m always tweaking my schedule. While I am working with my students, what are some other activities my students can be doing? I ask that because they need adult assistance to complete or stay on task and I don’t have adults willing to help me. Unfortunately they are with me forever according to administration. I think that’s why I am always trying to make a schedule work. I’m trying to work with all 10 students at one time. Any thoughts???


      Hi Tonya, not sure that I can help given that it sounds like there are some administrative issues regarding the aides that need to be addressed. However, you could try some structured work systems for independent tasks to break the group up. The students need to be supervised and initially to be taught, but then they would learn to work independently. You can find out more about them by using the menu at the top of my site and choosing Popular Topics–and then choosing structured work systems. Good luck!

  7. Deirdre Nelson

    Thank you so much for these resources! I’ve just got a permanent job teaching SEN kids in the UK and this is going to be so helpful in settling in and making sure I’m meeting all the students’ needs.

  8. Pingback: 3 Classroom Organization Hacks to Make Your Special Education Classroom Run Smoothly | Autism Classroom Resources

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