The word 'individual' is used in abundance in Special Education to describe the nature of the student's school day. Their programs are individualized, their schedules are individualized, and worktime is often completed one-on-one with an adult to ensure that 'individualized' goals are met.
"The underlying goal of any Special Education program is to provide students with the skills to be independent and successful in the real world. The real world is NOT individualized, and requires students to share their environment with others (whether they like it or not)."
The Purpose: To provide students with a 'real world' education experience that would be expected in any other classroom. While the level of activities are differentiated to accommodate their needs, there are a few things that we practise during this daily ritual that will prepare them for a mainstream classroom:
During Morning Meeting...
- I am a teacher and only a teacher - I continue to teach through any behaviours that arise and allow my Educational Assistants to prompt, redirect and manage distractions
- Educational Assistants backprompt from behind students - meant to fade as independence increases. My goal is for EA's to be sitting at a table behind the students with only myself conducting the lesson by the end of the year!
What Does Morning Meeting Teach?
ATTENDING: It doesn't matter if you have a student that doesn't know the concepts of date, weather, etc. I start almost all of my new students off with a goal of attending to Morning Meeting activities for a duration of 15 minutes with X prompts or less. This means simply sitting in their chair and attending to the teacher (like they would be expected to do in any classroom).
SOCIAL SKILLS: Students sit in their seats and are called up one at a time to complete each activity. This allows for practise with turn-taking skills (in the IEP!) and also transitioning between their seat and the board, which would be a school expectation in a regular classroom. Students practise greeting each other either with their voices or AAC, and there's more! Students learning to respond to their name when called also get lots of practise here.
LIFE SKILLS: What do we wear to go outside in the fall? What do we put on our head when it's sunny? Talking about weather helps students to identify clothing by attribute or function, learn parts of the body (i.e. where does the hat go?) and can touch upon data management concepts when graphing (i.e. How many days were sunny this week?) Students can also practise colours (i.e. Find the yellow hat) and matching (i.e. making the shoes match) to practise Life Skills concepts.
SELF-REGULATION: Teaching feelings as a strategy to self-regulate is an important life skill. Countless adults in my school will ask my students "how are you?" to which I am teaching them to say "I feel _____" as a response. During Morning Meeting we practise this using a visual chart to record our feelings. I encourage them to point to and/or read the sentence they have made as an appropriate response to "How do you feel today?"
MATH: Time as a form of measurement is practised through days of the week and months of the year. I teach the days of the week by connecting them with school activities (i.e. on Mondays we have Art, on Tuesdays we have P.E.). Determining the date practises counting, ones and tens place value and more/less.
LITERACY: For students who can read (and those learning to), incorporate sight words into a Morning Message (I use Boardmaker to create word symbols) and use as a social story to prepare for the day ahead.