For many public school autism classrooms, a 1:1 teaching model may not be (o.k….is definitely not!) available. Teachers may feel overwhelmed when creating a daily schedule that attempts to meet the needs of ALL students. Group activities are not only necessary (due to limited staff) but can also provide many opportunities for students to learn important skills that are essential for lesser restrictive settings. Simply scheduling group activities such as circle/meeting times, read alouds, gross motor/group games, art projects, etc., is not enough. We must provide clear expectations for staff to ensure that group activities are not only occurring, but are also being MONITORED APPROPRIATELY.
WHEN STAFF MEMBERS KNOW WHAT IS EXPECTED, OUR STUDENTS BENEFIT!
Read through our suggestions and let us know how you ensure that group activities are monitored appropriately. Suggestions: Students –
- Students should be sitting quietly and appropriately. Eyes and bodies should be oriented toward the group leader (there should only be one group leader!). THE “GROUP LEADER” MAY NOT ALWAYS BE THE TEACHER!
- Students should be attending to, following, and participating in group instruction with the appropriate amount and type of prompting.
- Staff should be standing or sitting behind the student(s) assigned to them.
- Group leader should be the only one to present directions, questions, etc. If necessary, staff should prompt the correct response using the appropriate amount and type of prompting. REFRAIN FROM REPEATING THE DIRECTION, QUESTION, ETC. PRESENTED BY THE TEACHER.
- Implement behavioral interventions as quietly and unobtrusively as possible.
- Always remain focused on your students (adults should not be conversing).
- Staff should not participate in group (i.e., singing, asking questions of students, etc.) unless directed by the group leader. WHILE IT’S FUN TO SING AND DANCE, WE WANT OUR STUDENTS TO BE THE ONES PARTICIPATING! WE ALSO WANT THEM TO BE FOCUSED ON THE INSTRUCTIONAL LEADER….REMEMBER WHAT THE GOALS ARE!
- Will certain staff members provide social praise to individual students? (consider voice volume)
- Will certain staff members provide tangible reinforcement to individual students? (How much? When?)
Consider having the instructional leader use “signals” to communicate certain things to staff (i.e., when to deliver reinforcement, when to prompt, when to ignore, when to….er…..be quiet!!!) Examples:
- Instructional leader puts a thumb up = Staff member quietly provides social praise to a student (“Nice job sitting with your feet on the floor.”).
- Vice versa…staff member “signals” to instructional leader to remind him/her to provide reinforcement to a student.
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