Each year, teachers reflect on their experiences and identify areas for improvement. By making strategic changes during the summer break, educators can start the new academic year feeling prepared and confident. In this article, we'll explore two valuable adjustments that can enhance the teaching journey for you as an autism teacher.
1. Laminate Materials for Reuse
One of the most effective ways to save time and increase efficiency is by laminating frequently used materials. Whether it's visual supports, activities or teacher copies, laminating them not only extends their lifespan, but also eliminates the need for constant trips to the copier. Investing in a personal laminator or utilizing your school's resources can have a significant impact on your daily routine.
Why summer is the ideal time to make this change?
During the summer break, when the demands of the classroom are temporarily lifted, autism teachers can take advantage of the extra time to gradually laminate their collection of materials. By tackling this task before the school year begins, you'll ensure that your resources are well-preserved and ready for immediate use.
2. Utilize Existing Templates
In the digital age, teachers have a vast array of templates available online to simplify various administrative tasks. From paperwork and letters home to activities and games, leveraging pre-designed templates can save you valuable time and effort. Instead of starting from scratch, why not utilize a pre-made template. For example, I created an set of editable templates for autism support teachers. This is a set of a templates of pre-written starter forms to help you begin your writing on some of the standard documents that are used in Special Education. You can see the templates here.
To streamline your lesson planning process and ensure consistency, you could also consider developing lesson templates that can be easily adapted throughout the year. By outlining the essential components, objectives, and instructional strategies in advance, you'll save time when creating individualized lesson plans for your students. Additionally, if you can, take advantage of any available resources, such as pre-made activity templates or curriculum guides, to further simplify your planning process.
3. Set Aside Time for Professional Development
Dedicate a portion of your summer break to expand your knowledge and skills as an autism teacher. Stay updated on the latest research, instructional techniques, and intervention strategies by attending webinars, workshops, or online courses. Investing in your professional development not only benefits your students, but also boosts your confidence and effectiveness in the classroom. Check out our courses and other mentor-like blogs and articles to help you get started!
4. Implement Batching for Teaching Tasks and Prep
Batching refers to grouping similar tasks together to maximize efficiency. As an autism teacher, identify repetitive or time-consuming tasks that can be batched together. For example, setting aside specific blocks of time for data collection, progress monitoring, or preparing materials for multiple lessons can help you work more efficiently. By focusing on a specific task or type of preparation at once, you'll reduce context-switching and increase productivity.
5. Get a Planner
I don’t know about you but I live in my planner for both home and school. During the summer, you can research different planners and get a head start on putting in important dates for the upcoming school year. Or, you can check out our new planner over here. This new Autism Classroom Planner, Organizer and Lesson Plan Book provides teachers with more than just planning. It has space for the following areas that teachers need to remember:
• August 2023 - July 2024 School Year Calendar
• Year at a Glance
• Pages for Special Dates, Student/Staff Birthdays
• IEP Meeting Dates & General Meeting Dates Pages
• Monthly Calendar
• Focus Word for the Month
• Inspirational Saying for the Month
• Weekly Calendar
• “To Prep” Section for Each Week
• Weekly Focus Space for Each Week
• "To Do List" for Each Month
• Teacher Expenses Tracking for Each Month
• Mini-Classroom Set Up Checklist
• Space to Draw Your Layout Plan for the Classroom
• Student Workspace Organization Page
• Classroom Roles and Responsibility Planner
• Community Trip Planner
• Daily Routine Planner
• Student Information Page
• Contact List and Parent Communication Log
• Space for Individual Student Schedules
• Accommodations & Supplementary Aides Page
• Student Technology Password Log
• Student Programs (IEP Goal Implementation Plan)
• Family Input (on IEP) Handout
• Professional Development Tracker for Workshops
• Professional Development Planner for Team
• Communication Log
• IEP Meeting Notes
• General Meeting Notes
• Team Debriefing Meeting Notes
• School Information
• Team Member Information/Specialist Information
• Volunteer Information
Preparing for the upcoming school year as an autism teacher involves more than just physical organization and planning. By setting aside time for professional development, creating lesson templates, and implementing batching techniques, you can optimize your teaching experience and ensure a smooth start to the academic year. Embrace these additional strategies to enhance your effectiveness, create a supportive learning environment, and provide the best possible education for your students with autism.