I took a class in graduate school about supporting families with children with disabilities. On the first day, the professor said that the most important thing to take away from the class was--Parents are the experts on their children. This was several years ago, but it's stuck with me and is a reminder I bring into every parent interaction and IEP meeting. Over the course of a school year, I get to know my students very well--their likes, dislikes, strengths, and challenges. I love them, hope for them, and find great joy in being their teacher. But there's someone who loves them and hopes for them more than I ever will. It's probably a parent, but for some students it might be a grandparent, aunt, uncle, or other guardian. Now that I'm a parent, I really understand that no one will ever know my son the way that I do. I still like to think of myself as an expert on my classroom, because I know what my classroom and my students need to have a successful school day. But recognizing parents as experts, too, is the foundation to a productive family-school relationship.
When using token boards, it can be helpful to include the criteria (rules) for earning the tokens directly on the board. This helps students know exactly what they need to do to in order to earn a reward! I like to put velcro on the backs of the rules so that I can change them if needed (new behavior goals, different settings, etc.) (link in profile)
You probably have some great behavior supports and interventions in your teacher toolkit, but how do decide which intervention to use for each student and each behavior? As teachers, we know that the function of a behavior informs our choice of intervention. But it's also important to explain this rationale to other staff, paraprofessionals, and parents who may not be as familiar with function-based interventions. When stakeholders understand our decision-making, they're more likely to buy into and help implement an intervention. You can grab this and other helpful behavior handouts for your classroom in my ABC data pack (link in profile).
Most of my resources are designed with special education teachers and children with disabilities in mind. BUT, most of the materials I create can also be beneficial to children without disabilities and are applicable in the home, too. Since becoming a parent, I've really wanted to create more parent-friendly resources. Most parents don't have laminators or rolls of velcro (or the time!) to cut out and prepare detailed visual supports for the home. I've talked to numerous parents who have said that creating a visual schedule was on their ever-growing to-do list. I've also met parents who have painstakingly hand-drawn visual supports to meet their child's needs. I wanted to make it easy for parents to implement effective behavior and social-emotional supports at home. I'm so excited about my new Home Visual Kit! It includes 10 simple visual tools for the home that can be used with children of all ages and abilities. Best of all, no cutting or laminating is required! Just print, slide in a page protector or dry-erase pocket, add a dry-erase marker, and you're set. You can see a full video preview of this resource in my stories. Are there other resources or visuals that would beneficial for the home? (link in profile)
Social stories are one of my favorite tools for teaching appropriate behaviors and social skills. They use clear and accessible language and visuals to help students know what to do in a variety of situations. A social story, however, is only what you make of it. For most students, reading a social story once isn't enough to make the targeted skills or behaviors stick. When introducing a social story, I read it daily during the week (and often multiple times per day) at relevant times (e.g. reading a social story about hallway behavior before a transition time). I also like to incorporate social story response pages into my lessons. For one student this may include a self-reflection page as shown. For another student it may be a coloring page with a picture of the targeted behavior on it. After the student becomes familiar with the story, I store it in an accessible place so that it's easy to grab when needed. How do you make social stories an effective tool in your classroom? (link in profile)
Is there anything on your teacher shopping list this weekend? I really didn't need another timer, but this one was aqua (my favorite color) and matched my office and I can always justify another timer purchase, so this somehow found its way into my Amazon shopping cart! 💸
What are you thankful for this year? I'm thankful for my family and the opportunity I have to spend time with my toddler while sharing resources with teachers around the world through @teacherspayteachers. I love seeing what @eat.sleep.sped's and @stylinginspecialed's students are thankful for. I also love how they each thought to add a turkey to my differentiated thankfulness writing activity! (link in profile)
My Thanksgiving unit is one of my favorite things to teach because it touches on so many different skills and subjects (social studies, social skills, manners, preferences, choices, etc). Also, food is just such a fun and reinforcing topic! My students have always loved building their own Thanksgiving plate, and it's great way to practice some of the skills they'll use on turkey day! 🦃 (link in profile) Do you incorporate Thanksgiving activities into your classroom?