Monday, June 10, 2013

Setting up my Autism Class- Step 1: Getting mentally organized

I wish I had taken a picture of what I walked into when I went to visit my new classroom, located on the first floor of my school. Before me, the actual classroom that I'm moving into housed the Autism Specialist's office. She is relocating and left a ton of goodies for me. Her stuff was mixed in with all of the furniture, manipulatives, and toys, toys, toys moved over from the actual class that I am taking over. Combine all of that with my own personal materials and we had a disaster zone. I kept thinking "I don't know where to start." In an effort to help others who are in this same position, I'm going to share the process that I went through to get my room organized & set up.

Step 1: Get mentally organized
-What population will I be working with?
-What is the layout of the classroom?
-What areas will we need? Circle time area? Teacher desk area? Storage area?
-What centers do I want?

 I thought about the population that I would be working with- Pre-K and Kindergarten children with Autism. Pulling on my past experience with this population and my TEACCH training, I know that they are going to require ALOT of physical structure in the room. I think discussing this requires a post all of its own but during step one I'm just thinking about it, not actually doing it yet.

I also needed to look at the layout of the classroom before I got started. I needed to know where the outlets were for the computers & to take advantage of the areas already set up for storage. I was able to see that there are a few areas in the room-like the corner next to the counter- that I could take advantage of and use as a barrier for a center.

I talked with the teacher that had the class previously and with her two paraprofessionals (now mine!) and decided that I would (at least for the beginning) try to keep the same centers that they used. I knew that I needed a teacher area, a circle time area, a table time area, and a computer area. I talked with my paras and they also have had a reading/sensory bin area, a DVD player area, and a play area. I'm going to also add two individual work stations for higher functioning kids and a listening center. I'm still considering a play dough center but I remember how messy that was when I taught preschool before. Also still considering a puzzle center or smartboard center. I try to be really flexible and remind myself that I can make changes to the physical structure throughout the year but right now I am settled on 7 definite centers:
1. table time
2. computer
3. reading/sensory
4. DVD
5. play
6. work stations
7. listening

Each center will have space for 2 students; except for computer & listening- only room for 1 at each.

Okay. Now I am mentally organized. I have a game plan and I am ready to get busy! My next post will be about setting up the physical structure of the classroom.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for posting this information. Being a new teacher, I am grateful to have this blog as a resource.