Thoughts of an Autism Teacher

Tips and Tricks from the autism classroom

09 Jun

Is it summer yet?

Besides counting down the days till school ends (4.5!!!), I’ve been  obsessively scouring the internet to find some new ideas for lesson planning and organization for next year. 

My goals for next year: 

a) Find and implement a more organized method for lesson plans, grades, and general paperwork. 

b) Implement more creative weekly/monthly themes that can span across all curriculum. 

c) Train my instructional assistants to allow students more and more independence. 

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03 Jun

I heart dividers #autism

For students who are easily distracted, I love to use portable dividers in my classroom as needed. It helps me maximize the small classroom that I teach in. 

Here are instructions and a visual example I found from the blog Dynamic Duo: Adventures in Speech & Special Education. I have talked to several teachers who have used PVC pipe to make nice light-weight dividers. I haven’t made my own yet since I inherited a few from a previous teacher, but when those wear out, I definitely plan to make these! 

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24 May

Developing IEPs #autism

The National Association of Special Education Teachers has a great resource to help teachers develop both an entire curriculum or an individual IEP .

Check it out here, free for NASET members. 

10 May

Tough part of the job: Constant legal issues #autism

Once of the hardest parts of my job is trying to navigate the various legal issues that arise in the field of special education. Even a well-meaning teacher like myself can find it hard to keep track of all of the different items that need to be done or covered to make sure that we are in compliance. I want to a great job, but at the same time I feel like I am constantly drowning in paperwork! 

At my school, parents are well informed of their rights and persistent advocates for the children. This is GREAT, and I know so much my students’ success is because of their amazing parents. However, sometimes parents are on the defensive, and its important that I document EVERYTHING. 

Ugh. 

It makes me long for a job where I can just check in and check out. I’m open to advice on how to do this better! 

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02 May

Grocery PECS #autism

Guess what I am using on my next CBI to a grocery store??

Grocery PECS!

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01 May

In defense of teachers #autism #edchat

Listen. 

I know there are “less than stellar” teachers out there, just like there are poor lawyers, doctors, judges, bank tellers, and customer service representatives. 

But I’m SO tired of the negative press.

Most of the teachers that I work with are amazing, wonderful people who get paid next to nothing to deal with non-stop paperwork and crazy job expectations. I work 14 hour days, work during weekends, and go WAY above and beyond because I care about my students. 

Please remember that the burn-out rate for special education teachers is two years. The school I work at now had a string of 1 year teachers for 10 straight years. I will be the first to make it to year 3.

Amazing teachers leave the field everyday to pursue other jobs where they can be appreciated for their insane hard work. 

What’s the cost? I know some parents and advocates feel the need to relentlessly criticize school districts and teachers in the media in pursuit of “change.” Are we really helping to create the good kind of change? Or are we losing great teachers to other fields because they are tired of the relentless negativity? 

In the end, the students will be the ones who suffer the most.

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30 Apr

ABA Blog #aba #autism

I love following people who blog about Applied Behavior Analysis. Definitely check out this blog!  You can even see a featured book on Discrete Trial Training. What’s up behavior nerds?? :)

ABA Blog

29 Apr heygirlteacher:

Submission: Maria

heygirlteacher:

Submission: Maria

29 Apr

Importance of visual aids #autism #specialneeds

Here is a great article from the Childswork Childsplay blog about the importance of visual aids in special education! I can’t emphasize this enough!!!

28 Apr

Positive Behavioral Intervention & Supports #pbis #autism

Have you heard of Positive Behavioral Intervention & Supports

From their website: 

1. “What is School-Wide PBIS?”

Improving student academic and behavior outcomes is about ensuring all students have access to the most effective and accurately implemented instructional and behavioral practices and interventions possible. SWPBS provides an operational framework for achieving these outcomes. More importantly, SWPBS is NOT a curriculum, intervention, or practice, but IS a decision making framework that guides selection, integration, and implementation of the best evidence-based academic and behavioral practices for improving important academic and behavior outcomes for all students.

SWsystem

2. “What Does School-Wide PBIS Emphasize?”

In general, SWPBS emphasizes four integrated elements: (a) data for decision making, (b) measurable outcomes supported and evaluated by data, (c) practices with evidence that these outcomes are achievable, and (d) systems that efficiently and effectively support implementation of these practices.”

Check out their website! They have tons of research-based articles, and even a training manual available that can walk you through how to conduct an FBA. http://www.pbis.org/pbis_resource_detail_page.aspx?PBIS_ResourceID=887