Tuesday, July 20, 2021


(During the summer months, I like to take the A-Z Challenge and come up with words alphabetically and see how they apply to education. I think it’s a great exercise for teachers and students to give this a try.)

I am one of those people who like structure in my life. I like routines and I like knowing what to expect. Of course, this desire for structure needs to be balanced with flexibility. It is too easy to get into a rut and that makes any change in my schedule harder to handle. The deeper the rut, the harder it is to adjust to changes that happen. Of course, every day involves change.

My husband is not a planner so we have really had to compromise on planning trips so that we both feel comfortable with the plan. So, I come up with a tentative schedule and places I want to go. Each night on our trip, we reevaluate the schedule by looking at the weather, and what we want to do. Sometimes we stay in that city an extra day or we may go in a different direction because of the weather. I still feel like I have a plan (structure) and my husband feels like he has the flexibility so we both enjoy the trip.

I know many of my students with special needs do really well with structure. So, how do I balance structure and flexibility for my students?

One way that I do this is by giving a general schedule. I help my students know what to expect that we are doing today but explain that the specific things may change. We may do math at a certain time but the activities and assignments will change.

Knowing that changes are going to happen ahead of time helps everyone be prepared for the change. That is also a structure to embed in the schedule. For example, before I change to a different subject, I warn students that in 10 minutes we will finish Writing and will move on to Math. I then give a 5-minute warning to finish up and clean up what they are working on. So, when I make the transition to Math, it goes more smoothly. For younger children, this also works well for going to lunch, related arts classes, or recess and also returning back to the class.

How do you deal with structure in your class? Please share.

Photo by Vishal Vasnani on Unsplash

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