Thursday, July 25, 2013

Organized Chaos

Organized Chaos- Yuppers, that is what I'm calling my classroom! On one hand,  floors are waxed  and ready for the pitter-patter of not so little feet, but, on the other the other I have just realized that summer is almost as far away as yesterday. Actually with a few weeks to organize, I am trying to think of more effective ways utilize the small space that I call my classroom.  I teach special education and often pull medium sized groups to my class to provide specially designed instruction and testing accomodations.   I have been looping with my caseload the last few years and they are finally 5th graders. I am excited but with the possibility of Thirteen (Yikes-13!!)  5th graders in my teeny tiny room I need to come up with a better arrangement.

   I wish I remembered to take a photo of my cluttered Chaos. It is always amazing how crazily things get packed and boxed up at the end of the year.  I have have numerous plastic bins with drawers and some rolling shelves but other than that I don't have too much besides a macaroni table, a round table and a rectangular table with 2 student computers. Then add all the other things like rolling guided reading cart,  worm watcher(Yes-I've got  Actually, I guess I do have a lot in my little room-Must mean it's time to Purge!!

I just really want this year to be special since this is the last year with this specific group of students! They will head off to the middle school next year.

Any suggestions on how to make it super cute but not so elementaryish?

What ways do you save space in your classroom? And how do you spice up your theme if you loop with your kids?


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Saturday, July 20, 2013

Anxiety and Sensory Processing

Many teachers and parents often question whether or not students’ behaviors are influenced by anxiety or sensory issues. I feel that there is a thin line when determining one or the other, as they are often so closely intertwined it I hard to truly identify. Students with ADD/ADHD, ASD, and SPDs come to mind when discussing this topic. I teach in an inclusive setting and work with many students who are identified with ADD and ADHD.  It is almost a constant dilemma every year trying to find out what works and what doesn’t-especially when what worked last year doesn’t work this year!

In order to help with sensory or anxiety issues you must understand that punishment and rewards do not work as motivators. This only triggers more stress on the already stressed and over stimulated child. L

It is best to create a schedule for the student that incorporates a sensory diet. In my classroom I have utilized various techniques to help students with anxiety/sensory issues.  

The following is just a few of those techniques:
Mini Trampoline **(Honestly, I get the most use out of this one!)
Movement breaks
Blowing Bubbles
Scheduled Breaks
Fitness Balls
Various Fidgets (squishy balls, bouncy balls, rubber balls)
Body Sock
Weighted Vest
Those glittery bottles (I’m sure you’ve seen them on

There are many techniques that you may or may not work for each student, the important thing to remember is to teach them to understand their body so they can begin to self regulate independently.  Even in the primary grades it is important. Self regulation is a skill students must learn to be a successful community member and functioning adult.

For more ideas on fidgets check out for a free download. J  You won’t want to pass this up!

What are sensory/stress techniques do you utilize with your students in the classroom?.

Teaching is a Piece of Cake-RIGHT?

So here goes my first educational blog!

A little bit about me:

This will be the start of my 9th year teaching, and what a journey it has been. I started out teaching in Pennsylvania, as a Psyco-Educational Specialist at a residential treatment facility where I taught grades 1-4. After two years, I moved into the public school setting where I taught numerous long-term substitute positions in various special education settings (grades 2-6) before moving to Virginia in 2009. This year I will loping up with my current caseload and teaching 5th grade inclusion.  I have the best group of kids!

A Year in Review Reflection
This year I planned a DIY Wedding, was the Captain of the Staff Relay for Life Team, and managed the Ecology and Memory Book Clubs, the school year whizzed right past my eyes- I can't even remember if even if stopped to smell the roses.

With recently getting married and the stress of teaching, the discussion of starting a family pushed me over the edge, I had a mini break down rethinking my career as a special education teacher.  This should be a positive moment in my life that I am unsure how to manage teaching and home life to stay sane. Needless to say I am reaching out to the many positive teachers and professionals out here in the blogging community for support. I have never been one to really ask for help or tell someone the dreaded word "NO." I am using this forum to reach out for support and get a fresh start for the 2013-2014 school year!

Just Breathe!  I can do this- It's a Piece of Cake-RIGHT?!?

What are some ways you deal with the daily stress as a teacher? What ways do you manage your family and work?