Inside: Class dismissal routines, dismissal procedures, and ideas for autism classrooms at dismissal time.
After a long day at school, teachers and students are ready to break free when the dismissal bell rings! The excitement of dismissal time for teachers and students at the end of the day can make it difficult for any teacher to get students out the door smoothly; especially Elementary level autistic students in a self-contained classroom. Highlighted below are five helpful tips to streamline dismissal time for exceptional students with autism in Elementary school!
1.Creating A Clear Routine for Dismissal
Creating a clear dismissal procedure looks different for everyone based on your local school's schedule and the unique needs of your classroom! Maybe you have your students taking a bathroom break towards the end of the day, creating 5 - 10 minute time blocks for clean-up time, and packing up backpacks for dismissal. It sounds like it could take a long time, but as the students grow to learn the routine they will become faster throughout the year! Once you have a routine set in place for your classroom and students, be sure that all teachers in the room are on the same page when it comes to being clear and consistent. Remember, your autistic students crave a structured routine.
2. Using a Clipboard Tracker
Managing students at dismissal time can not only be difficult, but scary! I recommend maintaining sanity at dismissal by setting the expectation that every student MUST say goodbye to you directly before they leave! Use a clipboard with a student roster, the dates of that week and what means of transportation they use to get home (walker, bus, pick up, etc.) Once the child says goodbye to you, and you acknowledge it, then check them off for the day. This is an easy way to keep organized, make sure no student gets left behind!
3. Knowing that Visuals are KEY
Anchor charts were key in my classroom when it came to reminding students how to get home! A dismissal anchor chart can be visually displayed anywhere in your room! You can create a section that represents bus riders, car riders, and walkers. This can be used to remind students who may sometimes forget where they need to go after school and how they get home. You could also include an additional section that clearly states the procedures for your classroom’s dismissal routine. Adding images to this section of the anchor chart is a great idea! Students can refer to this chart every day at dismissal.
This is also a great reference for teacher assistants or substitutes if you are absent. This section could include something as simple as a picture of a homework folder, reminding students they have important papers and homework that must go in their backpacks. Add images of items your students must take home daily! You could easily customize your chart to match your classroom’s dismissal routine.
4. Utilizing Peer Assistance
Sometimes the students want to be the teacher, and in this case that’s ok! Identifying students in another class who are qualified to be peer assistants can allow students to serve autistic students in your class. Their “job” can be to guide or prompt students who struggle with class dismissal procedures to efficiently pack up at the end of the day. Not only does this take some stress off of your shoulders as the teacher, but it is also empowering the students to do something good for someone else! This can help with each students’ confidence, relationship-building skills, and autonomy over time as they work together to be successful!
5. Teaching How to Wait
Waiting can be difficult, especially when it’s unstructured. Finding structured activities to help students to wait is a crucial part of your class dismissal. You may be able to keep your students busy with easy-to-grab classroom items such as puzzles, I-Spy books, or Legos. Other great activities you can utilize if you have the space are GoNoodle videos or kids yoga, which can get them stretching and moving after a long day of sitting and learning. All of these activities can help maintain a calm environment during the most chaotic time of the day!
Hopefully, these five simple tips will help you create a smooth and stress-free dismissal.