A Day in the Life; Australia (Special Ed)

I will start with a little bit of background:
I work in a Special School for children with Intellectual Disabilities and Autism in Brisbane, Australia. My school caters for children with Intellectual Disabilities and many also have Autism. The school has children from 6-18 years and we also have an Early Childhood Development Program for children who require Early Intervention Services. I teach in the senior school, my class range in age from 11-13 with 7 students (6 Girls and 1 Boy). I also have one SNA. All but one of my students are verbal. I have one non-verbal student who uses sign, gesture and an iPad program called Proloquo2Go to communicate.
My Typical Day
I usually arrive at school around 7.15. I like to arrive early so I can have my resources organised before the students arrive. I am on supervision duty every morning from 8.10. Classes start at 8.30.
The students collect their bags from their assembly area and walk to the classroom. When they arrive at the classroom they all unpack their bags, putting their lunches in the fridge and their home/school communication book in the designated box.
I usually begin the day with a morning session involving each student saying ‘Good morning’ to each of their classmates and talking about what they did after school the previous evening or on a Monday over the weekend and what they had for dinner. I pick a student to change our day board which has the day, date, weather month and season. Finally I bring around a visual board where each student chooses how they feel today. Many of the students find emotions and understanding how they are feeling a difficult concept.
Next the students are involved in a work activity which varies from writing their personal details, sight word work and handwriting workbook activities. Each student requires a different level of support and two of the students require one on one support from my SNA or me to complete their work tasks.
This work session is followed by Morning Tea (small break), the students eat for 15mins and play in the playground for 15 mins.
After Morning tea depending on the day different activities take place a big focus of the senior school is developing the student’s social skills, leisure skills and community access to help them for the future. On Monday we are involved in Leisure activities (swimming, roller skating, bowling and bush walking). The students choose the activity they want to try in conjunction with their parents. These activities often involve the students being supported to take public transport i.e. train or bus.
On a Wednesday my class goes shopping to buy the ingredients we will need for our cooking activity on Friday. We are currently working on developing the student’s independence in locating items by themselves. Some students require visual supports (a picture of the item) to help them locate item they have been asked to find.
On Thursday my class splits between sensory activities and drama depending on their needs/ preferences.
On Friday between breaks we are involved in a cooking program whereby I and my SNA assist the students to make a dish for lunch. The students are involved in chopping, mixing, grating and peeling activities. The cooking program aims to help developing the student’s skills and abilities to make their own food with assistance and learn how to use kitchen equipment safely. The students will eat what they cook for their lunch
Every day these activities are followed by Lunch where the students eat for 30 mins and play in the playground for 30 mins except for Monday when we often bring our lunches and eat out where we are for our leisure activity.
In the Afternoon as with the morning I keep the same routine each day. For students with Intellectual Disabilities and Autism routine is important the children have less challenging behaviour and anxiety if they know when things are happening and feel secure when things are kept the same. The students are involved in self-selected reading while they wait for their individual turn to read with the SNA or I. Following their reading session the students complete classroom jobs. Each Student has a job and the rota is changed each week. The jobs include sweeping, washing dishes, drying dishes, wiping the tables, stacking chairs and running errands for the class.
Once their jobs are completed the students are involved in work on their IEP(Individual Education Plan) goals.
The day finishes with the students having free time for 20 mins. Our class reward system involves each student starting the day with 20 mins of free time each afternoon but each time they do something against the class rules such as hurting others or not listening, they lose 5 mins of free time.
The school day finishes at 2.30.
It is a busy day and every day is different depending on the student’s behaviour some days I spend my day dealing with student meltdowns or other issues that we need to work on with the students.
 Thanks to Clara for her ‘Day in the Life’.

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