Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Developing Classroom Rules in an Early Childhood Special Education Classroom

Well, a whole new school year is up and running.  And in our case, I truly do mean running!!!  We have a very busy group of Buddy Bears this year...but oh, the potential!!  It is going to be a great year.
To start the year off right, I changed our classroom rules and added a component that really serves as a model of the rules for our students. 

We have always had rules in our classroom.  For the past seven years, they have aligned with Becky Bailey’s Conscious Discipline program.  

We use. . .
our looking eyes, our listening ears, our quiet voices and kind words, our waiting hands and gentle touches, and our walking feet.
This year I made one modification to our rules based on my experience at TASN’s Summer Institute.  I removed "looking eyes" as many of our students do not have the ability to look as they attend to a person or activity.  I have always known this but felt there is a part to teaching and learning that requires students to look at the person and activity to be successful. However after speaking with colleagues at SI, I realized it is not necessarily with looking eyes but rather through listening ears and attentive bodies.  

If my students were older and could better understand the word "attentive", I might add a rule about being attentive. Since they are not there yet, I decided to focus on my other four rules and really support them in learning to be attentive by focusing  on listening ears, quiet voices and waiting hands.  

I then added a much needed preschool rule, "WE ARE KIND TO EACH OTHER!"  Sharing and playing with others is a main goal for our little preschoolers as they move from a toddler-centered world, where everything is about themselves, to a preschool-centered world, where they learn through playing and interacting with others.

To teach our classroom rules, they are posted in the center of our large group area.  

You can access the board for this poster via Board Maker Share.

We review the rules every day during opening group as we recite them with actions.  

This specific video clip will be shown all week this week during our opening calendar activity via the Smartboard.  It provides a video model for the students to follow along with as they learn to recite the rules.  For our lower students, it is a great way to practice gross motor imitation.
As we progress throughout the year, we will use the Smartboard to show video models on how to follow specific rules.  Last year, I based the video models on specific needs of our students.  For example if we have a lot of students using loud voices, I might show a video of raising your hand to get a teacher's attention and then quietly telling the teacher what you need.  Each morning after showing a video example, the rule helper discusses what body parts were used to follow that rule. 

For more information on video modeling and its effectiveness, click here. 

One last thing,  I added classroom rules to our Buddy Bear song this year.  We have a theme song that supports our classroom in becoming a unit and a school family each year.  The kids always love it!  And thanks to the help of my musically talented para, Miss Penny, it actually serves a dual purpose this year. Not only do the students recite the classroom rules, they also learn their friends' names.  

The song is to the tune of the Addams Family.  We show it on our Smartboard each morning at the end of opening group and then sing it throughout our day when we are waiting in line or transitioning.  

You can access the song on Boardmaker Share. 

Teacher's Tip: To paste it to a Smartboard Slide, simply view it as actual size and copy and paste.  If you paste it in fit to window view, the image is blurry.


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