As special educators we are usually tasked with meeting the needs of a variety of learners often times in one session. This can be daunting! Resource times (at least those I am familiar with usually range from 30 minutes to and hour) and fitting in great instruction, guided and independent practice in this short amount of time for kids at varying instructional levels is super difficult.
That saying, “special education teacher only because full-time multitasking ninja isn’t an actual job title” is so accurate!
I struggled for a long time with my resource groups. Scheduling in special education is sometimes a nightmare, who am I kidding, it is ALWAYS a nightmare! Last year I started out with all of my resource kiddos for 45 minutes in the morning. This meant that I had all the grade levels (varying instructional levels) all at the same time, except that these kids went out for specials at this time, and these kids had speech at this time, and this kid had library on this day, and this one on that day, etc. You get the picture. We started, we stopped, we started, we stopped. It was chaos.
New year, new plan! I decided we would split grade bands this year. My little kids (K-2) would stay with me in the mornings for their 45 minutes and my big kids (3-5) would come back to me in the afternoon for their 45 minutes of resource time. That worked for a while but it had my little kiddos coming into their inclusion classes after initial instruction and being expected to complete activities that they were not present for.
So, as we so often do, we adjusted again. Now, after our morning social skills and motor lab time, all of my kiddos go to their inclusion classes (except my 3rd grader because it just worked out better for him to stay and join his inclusion class later, he arrives there while they are doing silent reading, so it works). This way my kiddos get their initial instruction with the inclusion class and can participate in most of the activities with their gen ed peers.
After inclusion time, we have the resource battle! I have struggled with how to deliver instruction to kiddos on such different levels with such a short amount of time. I am not saying it is perfect but it has been the best combination for me and my students.
Currently, we have 45 minutes to get ALL of the things we need to get done with three kiddos on three different levels. We start with a whole group lesson for about 10 minutes. It doesn’t seem like much time but my friends don’t have a huge attention span, let’s be honest, they could put a gnat to shame! We take a three minute break after whole group because my kiddos need to move, if I want them to be able to pay attention. Then we split into three groups: teacher time, guided practice, and independent practice . We run three ten minute rotations. I run teacher time, my para does guided practice, and we have task cards or work tasks for our kiddos for the independent practice.
As teachers, we try to do EVERYTHING!! Sometimes it just isn’t possible. Would I like to teach three separate lessons, of course! Would it would time wise? NO! With this arrangement, I can gauge how well they understood the whole group lesson and then differentiate during teacher time. In whole group we work on something everyone needs to know, ex: sequence of events. One student may have excellent listening comprehension and be able to put the events of the story in order with no problem but another student may not understand what the sequence parts are. Then I would use a model, visual supports, simplified vocabulary, etc to make sure that kiddo can understand the concepts.
Phew! I feel like this was a long post but I could go on and on and on about resource times. I hope this helps you to 1: know that you aren’t alone in the struggles of being a SpEd teacher and 2: have a starting place to run your resource groups more efficiently and hopefully with much less stress on you!