Get the Latest Time Saving Resources

Setting up the schedule in special education can be a bear. Check out this example of an middle school schedule along with why we scheduled it as we did.

Back to School: Setting Up Classrooms for Students with Autism #2-Set the Schedule Part 3

Sharing is caring!

Setting up the schedule in special education can be a bear. Check out this example of an middle school schedule along with why we scheduled it as we did.In this post in the Setting Up Special Ed. Classrooms series, I’m talking about a middle school schedule that might be a little more realistic for some of you than my last post. I realize that most of you don’t have 2 teachers in your classroom, like the schedule I shared in the last post, so I wanted to share one that might be a bit more representative of your day.

Middle School Schedule

This one is a middle school classroom, again of a self-contained classroom, with 6 students and 2 staff.  You can see the students were able to manage longer large group times.  Choice time (a time to work on communicating choices and engaging in leisure activities somewhat independently) was scheduled for morning because of busses being unreliable and one staff having to be out waiting for the busses to arrive.  So to keep students engaged, we wanted this to be at least structured but easy to supervise.

After morning meeting, the students went into a rotation with work time (explicit instruction in small groups focused on curriculum and IEP goals), independent work time (structured work system) and art.  Luckily these students were able to work independently to some degree, so the structured work system time was not “manned” by a staff member but they were supervised as the teacher or aide worked with their own group.   The use of structured work systems allowed us to break the groups down into groups of 2 instead of 3, allowing more individualization.

Setting up the schedule in special education can be a bear. Check out this example of an middle school schedule along with why we scheduled it as we did.

In this class, because there were only 2 staff, there was a longer period of time with leisure choice time after lunch to allow for lunch breaks.  These students had a second independent work time in the afternoon, with different tasks than the ones in the morning, and classroom jobs.  Typically we had academic independent work in the morning and vocational tasks in the afternoon in the systems.  We also scheduled a group social skills time for this group who needed to work on taking turns, conversational skills, and other interactive skills.  This also became a time later when the students could go into general education settings for a variety of planned interactions to support social interaction skills as well.

Next we will talk about an elementary classroom talk about students who are included for part of the day as well.  For more examples of schedules, you can check out our Setting Up Classroom Spaces (on the left side bar).

 To check out other posts in this series, click here.

Until next time…

Autism Classroom News Autism Classroom Resources


5 thoughts on “Back to School: Setting Up Classrooms for Students with Autism #2-Set the Schedule Part 3”

  1. I am really struggling with setting up a schedule for my students. I will have 2 students that will go to a resource room for reading during our 3rd period, and one of those students will also be mainstreamed for math 1st period. My other student's skills range from pre-school to 1st grade. All have goals for reading, writing, math, social skills, adaptive skills and communication, and half also have fine and gross mother skills. As of the end of the school year I have 6 students but that could change when school starts. They divide easily into 3 groups, which is nice, and I have 2 Paras and one 1:1 para for a student who likes to leave school. I feel like I have too many centers, like I am doing too much, so I was grateful to see your examples. Maybe I will start with just the basic areas where all have goals, and add on extras from there as I get to know the students and I am more comfortable. Will students adjust to these changes or should I start off with everything so we have a routine right from the beginning? My other question was about bell schedules. We start at 7:40 am and end our day at 2:10. Our periods are 47 minutes so they don't end nicely at an even time, and we have 7 periods. In the middle schools you have been in, does the schedules coincide with the bells, or do they just go with what works time wise? I want to go according to my own schedule, not the bell schedule, but am wondering how disruptive this would be for students when the bell goes off and they are in the middle of working.

    1. Hi Jannike, I have found that generally the schedule has to change a number of times as you get to know your students. As long as they have visual supports to help them know the schedule, I have not found this to be a problem for them, with the occasional rare exception but those usually adjust fairly quickly. As an example, we have 25 kids with autism at camp this week and every day is a slightly different schedule and as long as they have visual supports, they all have adjusted quite nicely in 1 day's time. Usually I ignore the school bell schedule as much as possible but try to make my schedule match to it approximately so that when the bell rings if I have students who have to leave (or return) I have the ability to let them go without them missing an activity and then it just becomes our changing time and we just fudge the time on the schedule a bit for that. I don't think the bells will be terribly distracting for the students once they get used to it; I would just use a timer as their transition signal so they know to listen for a different signal. We have also used blinking lights at times which might be a really different type of signal. I like the idea of starting basic and then branching out. Too many activities is going to get too confusing for everyone, especially until you know each other. Let me know if there is anything I else I can share that will help.

    2. I know I’m seeing this post almost 4 years later! But I’m a new ASD teacher (and still in school for my ASD endorsement) and I’m REALLY struggling trying to come up with a curriculum, lessons, and a daily schedule. I was pretty much thrown in with nothing to really piggyback from. Do you have examples of lesson plans or even a curriculum? My students range from ages 7-10 and are at all different levels. I don’t know how to set up lessons for my students especially for ELA, math, etc.


        Here is a post on lesson planning:
        The Teaching Plan and Schedule Toolkit might be helpful for you as well:
        And here is the start of a series on curricula:

        Hope that helps!

  2. That was incredibly helpful. I have been a life skills teacher for many years, and more recently a moderate needs teacher, teaching just 2 subjects. Although I have always had students with Autism in my classrooms, all of them have done well with a basic written schedule. This is my first truly intensive classroom with students with autism, and I think I am just freaking myself out because I tend to be a perfectionist. I have revised my schedule several times now because it doesn't seem right. I will revise it again in a simpler format and in my head it already feels like a better fit, so thanks for that. And ignoring the bells will help me tremendously! I am also intrigued by the blinking lights and will look into that. I have purchased your book and even wrote it up on my blog. You are a godsend and I am grateful to you for your expertise and willingness to help. Thanks so much!

Comments are closed.

Join our FREE Resource Library

Terms and Conditions checkbox is required.
Something went wrong. Please check your entries and try again.
Scroll to Top