3 Matching Folders for Back to School!

If you are a teacher or parent of a kiddo with autism, you know that materials come and go quickly. Whether it's being ripped apart during a tantrum, having water spilled all over it, or just plain being left behind, our kids tend to lose things often! (Come to think of it, that sounds like all kids in general... 😅 )

So I was tasking with filling up our classroom bins with some new matching folders. It takes quite a bit of time, especially when we paraprofessionals only get a couple of hours in block every day to make materials and chart student data, so having these sheets formatted and ready to go was a MASSIVE time saver for yours truly. 

Let's get those little butts back in desks and keep those little hands busy with some brand new matching folders from Miss Lena's Desk. Click Here to Download and Print Your Own!! 

Enjoy the previews below, & I'll see you next time!
xo - Miss Lena

4 Things to Add to Student Fact Sheets

The first page in any student’s working binder should be their Student Fact Sheet. These gems are a quick dose of information about the student for any staff member, sub, or new hire that may be working with them. For children with Autism Spectrum Disorder or other Mod-Severe Learning Disabilities, this info can be the main difference between a positive, productive session with a student and a supreme meltdown. 

I know fast fact sheets have saved my life on more than one occasion at school, especially on days when a cold is going around and staff is stretched pretty thin.

From personal experience, here are 4 Things to Add to your Students’ Fact Sheets to set them (& their teachers!) up for Success:

1. Bus Info

The first thing that I have to do is get my student off the bus or out of their van. Seriously, don’t make me hunt around for a primary teacher to find out how to do that. If you want me to get my kiddo, tell me where they’re gonna be! 

Any other important bits of info (harness/bus aides/etc) would be lovely here too. Get your student started off right!

2. Lunch & Eating Procedures

In an ABA setting, reinforcers are king. But some kids have preferred items that are not on the agenda for some reason or another. In our class, it’s candy. And our kids are mischievous, they'll
wait for subs to request sweets when they know they can’t have them! Best let us know that right off the bat. 

Same goes with our gluten free friends! Sorry bud, but the Sub knows: no cookies!

3. Reinforcers & Preferred Activities

Now that we’re done talking about what the kiddos can’t have, tell the staff what they love! A Student Fact Sheet is a great place to stash information on what your student is into, what they like to earn and do with their teachers, and their favorite rewards for a job well done. Nothing kicks off a session right like introducing a student’s preferred activity right off the bat.

And don’t just put “Videos” or “Youtube”! If your student can’t ask their sub to put on their favorite show, and your sub hasn’t been filled in, both are going to end up very frustrated.

5. Mastered Tasks & Activites

We always want our kids to feel smart. How can we do that? By not setting our students up for failure. Teaching special learners, we know that not every student can be handed a puzzle as an easy task to complete. For some students, that may be the most difficult task a teacher could ask of them, and is almost sure to cause an escalation. 

Including Mastered, Fail Safe tasks for your specific student provides them with an easy right answer to a question, and an automatic gold star/high five for their teacher to share.

I’ve been updating my student’s binder & materials to prepare for next year, and today I finished up his very own Fact Sheet! I’m honestly thrilled, it’s been missing for months… There’s always something to do around here, and I finally was able to check it off my To Do List. 

To celebrate, I’ve turned it into a Student Fact Sheet Template to share, enjoy!

Cute, Fun Token Boards

Token Boards are an essential part of life around my school, so much that you'll hear staff calling "Could you grab so-and-so's token binder?" pretty much all day. In ABA, token binders are used to show our students how much longer they'll be following directions and completing academic tasks before it's "Their Turn" for an activity of their choosing. The tokens also offer a physical & visual incentive for our Sensory Learners. Earning a preferred activity by completing academic tasks is one of the best, most literal "first-then" systems for ASD students, and I've seen firsthand the personal pride and sense of accomplishment my kids get from seeing that they did something right in a world that often tells them how wrong they are.

With our Year-Round schedule drawing to a close for 2016-17, and only one short month to prep for 2017-18, we paraprofessionals are running around like mad lab rats with a plan, hustling to get everything ready for the kiddos when they come back from August break. On top of closing out my student's academic binders, I'm also taking a hard look at his workhorse materials. And you guessed it, Token Board is chief among them.

My guy loves art & color, so I really want to punch up his drab, black and white, old binder with something that'll get him excited to do his tasks and earn those tokens. Maybe I went a little nuts with Canva, but hey, I almost always do. And considering how vital token binders are in my world, I figured I would go ahead and share them with anyone who may be in a similar spot.

Here are 3 designs for Token Boards that can add a Splash of Color to your Back To School. Enjoy!

The End of the Year

This month, July 2017, marks the end of my first school year as a ParaProfessional Direct Service Provider in an ABA-based, public school alternative for elementary-middle school aged children with moderate-severe disabilities.

Put a bit more simply, this marks the end of my first year as a teacher in training.

And yes, I know there is a big difference between the Professional Teachers and myself. They are the ones with the degrees, the ones who write and keep responsibility over IEPs, BIPs, and all EIs. They are the ones who have paid their dues in time and money to go to school to study the incredibly important foundations  & core principles of our work. But we are all the ones who enact those foundations and core principles, every single day.

At our institute, the paraprofessionals help the professional teachers constantly with the goings on & upkeep of the students and their plans. This is how we manage to keep above a 1:1 Staff/Student ratio: Most of us are paraprofessionals. This is precisely why I think of myself as a Teacher in Training, because at my school, I am not simply providing direct service. I am responsible for the material management for an entire individual student, on top of keeping up on their goal progress by maintaining their charts and permanent school portfolio. I am responsible for running lessons & educational tasks with 5 different children every day, making sure that I know each one’s individual lesson plans and behavioral interventions. All of the paraprofessionals at my institution are trained on how to appropriately and safely intervene and take control in event of an emergency - and, in our world, emergencies are fairly commonplace.

[At least, what others see as emergencies. By our standards, sometimes it’s just Thursday]

I have found myself enraptured by every part of the Teacher’s Life. This past 6 months spent at my school has shown me not only what being a teacher truly entails, but that I am ready and willing to volunteer as tribute. The time spent worrying over kids meeting goals, laminating charts and making materials, applying the science at our disposal to help these children… every part of it is intensive and beautiful and completely vital. Every moment is worth it, no matter what the salary may or may not be.

At the end of this, my first school year in Education, I find myself more convinced than ever of  my dream of becoming a teacher. Any age, (almost) any subject, I am a teacher in my heart and soul. And as I commit myself further & more wholeheartedly to this dream every day, I both know & pray that this never changes.

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