1. I was given the go ahead to order furniture, equipment, curriculum, and therapy items from a suggested list for a new autism classroom by my school district in June. I was so excited looking at all the catalogs and websites. For curriculum, I ordered tons of items from one of my favorite teacher materials store: manipulatives, many items to support literacy and math, and so forth.
I also got the Edmark Reading Program CDs. I have some of the print materials. Even though I am doing Guided Reading for my literacy component, I also have a rotation where they do computer work followed by free time on the computer. I have had some success with this program in the past and having extra literacy instruction doesn't hurt.
For social skills, I want to use curriculum from Michelle Garcia Winner. She has a ton of material on her website socialthinking.com.
For Science and Social Studies, I ordered the Unique Learning System. When I looked over the curriculum for middle school, I was pleased to see that the units they offered overlapped with the middle school topics in these classes in my district. I like how there are new units every month. I plan to use News-2-You as part of our Morning meeting, and Symbol stix offers another picture based writing and icon option for my students.
In addition to these items I ordered storage bins, tons of velcro, laminator and equipment, a book binder, more ink for my color printer, a kidney table and some more bookshelves, carts to store student work, etc. I worked with the OT and PT to get therapy items for my room such as therapy balls, sensory items, a rocking chair, spinners, etc. All told, I spent over $10,000. I was basking in the glow of knowing I would have materials ready to set up a stellar program for my students.
Guess how many of those materials I had when school started this past week??????? Give the person who said zero a kewpie doll. That's right folks, nothing, nada, zippo, zilch. I was told it was a "performance issue". Basically, someone forgot to order it. Now mind you, my district is in trouble with the govt. over how they handle Special Education issue in our district, and this same issue was in the paper a year ago about how they start new programs and then don't provide materials for set up, leaving classrooms with NOTHING to start the school year with. So you would think this would be a priority for them, sigh.
I am a veteran special education teacher and am basically a hoarder of materials because I have learned that if you wait for the admins to help you, it might be a long wait. So I have some materials to get by until I get my stuff. But folks, I am irritated beyond belief because I started to ask for materials when I knew I was moving into this program last January. JANUARY!!!!. However, I am trying to relax and not let it get to me (although I vent a little here and there), and just go with the flow. I spent over $1000 of my own money to get some basics like velcro to at least get schedules up and have work tasks for the students to do, so we have been ok. But I decided on Friday that I was putting a stop to the Jannike money drain.
Talk about stressful. And I have told them they are reimbursing me which has been agreed to. I am putting the receipts together this weekend and submitting them on Monday.
So all is not totally lost. I have religiously been following the guidance of The Autism Tank, The Autism Helper, Autism Classroom News, and The Autism Adventures of Room 83. I believe the links are to the right. These blogs have been a godsend, and thanks to their advice, tips, and practical knowledge specific to this disability, I did not flounder. We stuck to building a routine schedule, which went well, and I had materials at every center to keep them busy. I will continue this next week, as most of my students have never used a schedule before (a topic for another post), and not worry about curriculum.
And that is my first week. Despite the stressful nature of no materials, new Paraprofessionals, and new middle school students, it went relatively well.