If you work in special education, chances are that you have at least been a witness to a major behavior incident or even been part of a school wide crisis team.  This is the part of our job that no one wants to talk about, but it is extremely important that we do. We shouldn’t shy away from the difficult conversations because they are uncomfortable. I’ve even heard teachers complain about administrators or parents who ask “Is there anything that could’ve been done differently?” And honestly… I hated that too for so so long! I wanted to shout “NO!” because I took it as them questioning my ability to do my job rather than asking me to reflect on the situation for the next time.

Reflection on one’s teaching practices is the hallmark of any good teacher.  It shouldn’t begin and end with lesson plans.  We should be extending this to all areas of our teaching craft because lets face it, the actual teaching method is such a small portion of what we do. When I really started to think about it, I realized that these were not judgmental questions.  How else are we to change our approach if things are not working well unless we incorporate reflection into our process?  In 2018, I began asking myself 4 questions after each event and it has transformed my approach to behavior incidents and the aftermath.  

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Setting Up a Self-Contained Classroom

I’ve noticed over my journey that most districts have trainings or support for resource/inclusion programs, lifeskills/autism programs, and preschool programs.  The one thing I’ve noticed to be consistently lacking across all districts is support and resources for teachers of behavior/EBD programs.  This is so surprising to me considering the high turnover rates in these programs.  I also remember when I was first starting out that I would scour the internet and teaching blogs for posts on how to set up these programs and I couldn’t find ANYTHING! It was so discouraging to me because I so desperately needed help and guidance.  

Now that I’m 8 years in, I feel confident in the ability to run an effective program, so I’m creating this exact resource for you all.  This set-up has been implemented across cultural backgrounds and disabilities, in a K-5 program, and 3-5 program, and middle school program. The thing I didn’t realize is that the key to a well run classroom doesn’t change across disability areas.


4 Key Areas for Self-contained classrooms.

There are 4 must have areas in every behavior program in my opinion.  These are Whole Group, Small Group, Independent Work, and Calm Down area.  Start designing your layout with these 4 areas in mind.

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We all have those days right?  Those days where nothing goes right in the classroom and we have to scrap the plans to manage behavior or because our students don’t have the skills needed to continue on.  Those days where you go home and want to crawl in bed and never come back out. Am I alone in this?  I hope and pray that those days are far and few between.  I know especially now in the COVID era of teaching it can be so hard to maintain a positive attitude. If you are feeling lost, overwhelmed, unhappy, or extremely stressed, it might be time to revamp your self-care routine.  

Self-care has been something I’ve had to really work at over the past few years.  I struggle with mental health disorders that can often be made worse when I am not partaking in self care strategies.  I am by no means perfect, but I have come to realize these strategies are useful in helping to prevent burn out.

Continue reading “10 Tips for Taking Care of You”