5 Tips for Scheduling in the Special Education Classroom

Scheduling.  To accomplish a well developed schedule is quite the job, am I right?

How many of your students receive multiple services?  How many are pulled out of the classroom a few times per week...or perhaps in just one day?

Then there are ability levels.  How do you plan with so many varying student needs?

It may be difficult, but I promise, it can be done, teacher friend.

As early as you  can, learn which students will be in your classroom the upcoming school year.  Then, make your way to the file cabinet of IEPs.

Copy them either digitally or hard copy...then study those bad boys.  It is always a good idea to consult with the child's previous teacher as well. 

Here are some things to look for:
  • What diagnosis has the child received?
  • What are the services he or she is getting?
  • What types of behaviors can I be expecting?
  • What are the student's strengths and weaknesses?
  • What goals do we have set in place for next year?
Being informed about my students prior to the school year starting helps me better wrap my brain around my behavior system, my academic agenda, and which pull-out teachers/staff members I will be working with that school year.

Knowing which services each student receives helps me better map out my time.

Group your students using their service information in combination with their academic goals for the year.

For example, if you have three students with similar Math goals and/or ability levels, block out a solid time for them to receive Math instruction together.  Be sure their services do not interfere with that time slot.

Do not cram too much work into too small of a time frame.  Utilize small groups and centers to accomplish your daily goals.

Make use of your TAs by assigning them to oversee a particular group of students.  I use centers for both Math and ELA (reading/writing).

Here is an example of the Math rotation schedule I use in my classroom.

For my schedule, each rotation lasts 20 minutes.

Meet the Teacher students work directly with me.  New skills are typically taught Mondays and Wednesdays.  Tuesday and Thursdays are used as reinforcement of those skills.  Fridays are catch up and review.  

Tech Time students use the computer and SMARTBoard to practice skills.  They are visiting websites, watching videos, performing webquests, etc. with the technology.  

Try it Out varies between center games and independent practice.  This is used for spiral review.

No matter how scheduled and organized you try to be, things will come up.  That's life.

We are all human and there are days where your organization strategies just won't work.  Relax, laugh it off.  You need a sense of humor if you are going to last in this profession.

Learning to be flexible is key to making my days work...and we need to model this behavior for our students.  Which leads me to tip five...

Use visual schedule systems.  Visual schedules are perfect for the child who struggles through transitions and schedule changes.  

Visual schedules give students choice in the classroom, making them feel more in control...yet remaining on your schedule. 

 I blogged about my visual schedules here

Are you ready to fine tune the scheduling process in your classroom?  Download my free special educator's scheduling checklist by clicking the image below.

After you grab my download, click on Superteach's button to learn about the ways she uses schedules in her classroom.
Superteach's Special Ed Spot

What are some of the ways you incorporate scheduling into your Special Ed. classroom?  I am always looking for ways to make tweaks and would love to hear your ideas in the comments below. 


  1. Great post Angela! I love your ideas and tips! Now, I want to revamp my schedule!

  2. Angela, you did a great job giving reminders about what to think about when scheduling. I really like how you included the behavior portion and the individual schedules. A first/then board sometimes can really work wonders!!
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