Monday, February 24, 2014

The Special Educator's Toolkit- Classroom traffic flow and Setting up Boundaries

I am loving this resource for teachers! The Special Educator's Toolkit by Cindy Golden is a wonderful guide to organize your chaos. I feel that I am an organized person, but it takes me FOREVER to actually get it in place. The process that is described in this book really helps to get it together much quicker.

This is the third post regarding this toolkit and I am still in the first half of the book. Previous posts:
The Classroom Environment

This is a continuation of the chapter addressing organizing your classroom environment. Traffic flow creates a pathway to follow around the room. When you consider your flow, your student's physical, educational and emotional needs must be considered. Retail Stores use it very effectively. We do the same thing in our classrooms using visual boundaries.

"Classroom flow strengthens the structure of the room's environment".
Cindy Golden

 It helps students to know where and what each part of the classroom is for.  Traffic flow for students with disabilities should be arranged in a manner that makes sense to them. Many students with developmental delays have difficulty reading nonverbal social cues, they need visuals that help structure the unwritten rules of the environment and provide cues to know what is expected from them.

Visual boundaries are created in a classroom by positioning available furniture and shelving.,Students benefit from knowing what the function of the space is, where it begins and ends and the expectations within the space.
The author provides some different ways to create visual boundaries in a classroom. 

Some of the ways we have created boundaries in our classroom:

shelf and a rolling cart

Cardboard! easy to move around, this is a temporary barrier

My husband made these several years ago, he has modified them a couple of times, they are invaluable!

Two file cabinets, back to back.

the other side of the cardboard wall

Classroom Zones and Purposeful Spaces
Each area in your classroom should have a purpose and contain visuals to provide structure for the students. It will make  it easier to find materials. You can go a step further and color code the different areas! The author promises to discuss that later in the book.

 No matter what shape or size your room is, it can function as a classroom when planned and organized to make the most of the space.

"Every classroom will be different and sometimes certain areas may serve double or triple duty. You also need to build on the room's strengths."
Cindy Golden

Suggested areas to consider:

  • Individual academic areas
  • group area
  • coat/ backpack storage area
  • data keeping area
  • centers or work stations
  • leisure area
  • transition/waiting area
  • cool down area
  • staff work area

There is more information and suggestions for each area.

I have been doing this for awhile. I start with a blank piece of paper, draw a basic map of my room minus the furniture, (sketch in the items that are permanent-like the promethean board) I make a list of the areas I want to set up and I make a list of my available furniture. I almost always have to make an area (or 2) have a dual purpose.

Looking at the author's suggestions and applying them to my situation...

  • I don't have a waiting area, I would like one.
  • My cool down area is also the leisure area which is ALSO the library, is that a good idea? (I think NOT)
  • I like my individual stations
  • The teacher/staff area works
  • ahem....I don't have a data keeping area

This is where we will leave off. Next time, I will share and ponder...creating a waiting area, maybe change my cool down area, organizing the walls, schedule areas, step six, and color coding!