Part of creating a classroom where children feel safe and cared for and ready to learn is to create connections between staff and children and between class members. My digital camera is always by my side ready to photograph the class both on special occasions and as we work together day to day. The children love to see photos of themselves and their peers. We have a board where are current photos are stuck up weekly, I use photos as my screen saver on the laptop so the children can see them on the screen, I make photostories to share with parents and children and I create photo albums. Some are of special events and trips, some are where we store our weekly photos and each child has a little book with their own photos in. All year myself and the amazing team I work with stick photos into these and at the end of the year each child is allowed to take their own personal photo album home.
Routine, routine, routine.
The most important thing to many of the children I teach is routine. Suprises are scary, change is a catastophy and what they really want is for today to be much the same as yesterday. They want to know what they’re doing, when they’re doing and who they’re doing it with.
Visual timetables are your friend here. The exact format depends entirely on the child. We have a daily class one with symbols, individual ones with symbols, objects and photographs and even a ‘smell’ timetable for a child who is deaf/blind. I also have a very simple weekly calendar which we review daily as well into which I slot any big changes/special events.
The times involved also depend on the child- from now/next to sessional to a full day to a week. Every child can benefit from a simple timetable to help them make sense of their world.
I know it’s only the begining of the summer holidays for us, but over in the USA teachers everywhere are sorting out their school bags, stocking up on new pencils and swearing that this is the year they will be organised. I’ve decided to join in with an online bloghop as it seemed like a good way to find some relevant blogs to steal, I mean ‘share’ ideas with!
Name: Mrs B
Job title: Teacher
Grade/Year group: Early years and KS1 mixed (4-7)
Number of years taught: This will be my 8th year in teaching. Time flies when you’re buried under a pile of marking…
My top tips for fellow teachers would be:
- routine for the class and for yourself. Routine helps children feel safe and comfortable and routine helps me stay on top of work and have a semblance of a normal life! Get your routines going from day 1.
- Have an emergency bag stashed at work- my contains pens and blutack, some very nice coffee sachets and chocolate for bad days, pain killers for noisy days, throat sweets for hoars days and spare clothes (including underwear) for messy days!
- connect to other teachers, through blogs, pinterest and of course face to face in your school and in other local schools.
8- The zone board!
The zone board is a simple behaviour management tools- basically it’s a board where children can move up and down depending on their behaviour. What I love about this is:
- Everyone starts the day/session/hour afresh- we reset after lunch everyone goes back onto green ready to learn!
- You can always go up as well as down
In our class children who make it to ‘superstar’ get to choose a prize card- these are things like bubbles, a favourite dance video or story- generally things that the whole class can enjoy rather than an individual prize.
Like any behaviour tool it needs to be used consistently and with sensitivity adjusting expectations to childrens needs.
If you fancy giving it a go you can download mine for free here:
Recently I’ve been experimenting with Prezi- a free, online presentation creator. I’ve made a few Prezis for work and although it’s taken a while I’m finally getting to grips with it!
I created this Prezi to share with staff- it’s a very basic and simple introduction to sensory processing covering sensory processing disorder, sensory based motor disorder and sensory modulation disorder. Hope it proves useful to someone!
This is a super simple activity ideal for task and finish or TEACCH boxes- all you need is:
Simply laminate your paint charts, select some nice big buttons and then ask the children to match the buttons to the colours. A simpler activity would be to just have one colour rather than a whole chart of different tones but we already had these charts laminated froom a different activity and Little B enjoyed sorting the buttons along the line. I’ve also done this with just two colours of buttons and two charts rather than a whole set.
I love my job. I really, really love it. I love the freedom and excitment of teaching children with additional needs, I love that I’m allowed to try new things and if it doesn’t work? Hey, chalk it up and move on.
I love that innovation and experimentation are encouraged, I love that every day can be different and the kids can make leaps of progress suddenly and suprisingly.
I love finding way to help the children I teach access the world and experience new things, I love taking them out on trips, bouncing on the trampoline, swimming in the pool, relaxing in the swing together. I love building a relationship in a way I couldn’t in a mainstream class.
The thing is, if I didn’t love it I couldn’t do it. It’s this love that keep me going back when children regress, when they go through tough times, when they pull out an NG tube in the middle of a session or bite or hit or just close down. When they pass away too young with all that poential gone. When you have to fight and battle for what they need, when you’re out and about and people stare or comment and you just want to shout they’re just people like you and me!
Every teacher is different and every teacher has a passion, if you’re passion is teaching children with additional needs then don’t fight it, if your hearts not in it then go and find what you love! I don’t want to teach academic high fliers in a secondary school, but maybe you do, maybe you want to teach in a PRU or a boarding school or Eaton or an inner city school or a prison or well anything else! Do it, go and find your niche before it’s too late!
Puppets can be a great way to encourage children to speak, share their worries or problem solve conflict. It’s a good idea to have a range of puppets both human and other as some children would rather act out their feeling using a monster than a person puppet as this can help keep all those difficult feelings just a little bit further away and easier to deal with.