How to Effectively Teach Multiple Grade Levels In One Special Education Classroom

Monday, May 6, 2019


Teaching special education has its own set of super unique challenges, between behaviors, social skills training, communication needs, and planning for inclusion, we often have a huge disparity in academic skill sets AND multiple grade levels in one classroom. Is there really any way to target ALL of the needs and requirements sitting in front of you? Well the answer is, yes.

One of my most frequently asked questions is, "How do you teach all of the standards to all of the grade levels in a multiage special education classroom?!" It feels impossible, but with the right set up, YOU CAN DO IT!

How to Use Calm Books to Assist in De-Escalation

Tuesday, April 30, 2019


If you're a regular around here, you know how much I love a good calm corner in a classroom. Having a designated safe space to sort out big emotions is so crucial in school! But in reality, it's hard to actually encourage the de-escalation process - there's often little adults can do. Outside of setting up meaningful environmental supports and co-regulating with students, adults should be remember that one crucial piece they control is to give space and time for students to de-escalate. Barking directives or forcing verbal processing while a student is in crisis ("in their downstairs brain") will only likely agitate the child, and you won't get the results you're looking for. So - how CAN we encourage de-escalation?

Research also tells us that in order to de-escalate, we need to focus on the present moment and sloooowww down. While escalated, we can't complete "think sheets" or start sharing what's making us so overwhelmed with emotion. But what we can do, are simple calming tasks. Meeting kids in their downstairs brain (I keep saying that - read this quick and informative piece on this language and why it's not only important to know, but good words to use to explain our brains to kids!) is the best way to help turn brains from chaotic to calm.

10 Cute AND Affordable Teacher Outfits from Amazon

Monday, April 29, 2019



Teacher clothes can be hard to find - especially for special education teachers who often find ourselves in the most interesting situations within a moments notice! Here's 10 items to make functional, yet professional and cute outfits happen! All of these items can be found on Amazon - they're affordable, and if you're a Prime member, they'll get to you in 2 days! Wahoo!

Daily Ritual Gray Joggers

While these are pretty casual, tuck in a button down shirt and add some cute flats and you've dressed them up! These are great pants for teachers always on the floor building block towers or for classrooms where physical management is common. Currently, these pants are $22.00.

How to Effectively Debrief Behavioral Situations with Think Sheets

Thursday, April 25, 2019

When big incidents occur in our classrooms, honestly, we just want them to stop. Am I right, or am I right?! Sometimes just the thought of rehashing the eruption that had just occurred would make me want to fake sick and head on home! Being well versed in de-escalation is important, and in restorative conversations, but holding space for those conversations in ways that are productive and problem solving in nature can take a LOT of practice with certain students, and often for ourselves. 

These conversations are imperative to helping students process their responses to situations they perceived as upsetting, scary, or frustrating so they can understand how their responses affected others, and how they can work to have safer and more expected responses to those situations in the future.

I have found that using structured think sheets can take some of the overwhelm out of the very needed restorative conversation. 

5 Myths About Students with ODD (Oppositional Defiance Disorder)

Sunday, April 14, 2019
What's Oppositional Defiance Disorder (ODD)? According to the DSM-5, ODD is "a pattern of angry/irritable mood, argumentative/defiant behavior, or vindictiveness lasting at least 6 months as evidenced by at least four symptoms from any of the following categories, and exhibited during interaction with at least one individual who is not a sibling." To read more about the symptoms and categories, check out the DSM-5 definition. So let's get to it - let's bust some common myths so we can better understand the needs of the students we serve. 

1.) Every student who has ODD also has an IEP. 
Well, false. ODD isn't one of the 13 disability categories, so we can't say that every child with ODD has an IEP. Diagnoses like conduct disorder, ODD, bipolar, depression, etc. are clinical diagnoses and can only be made by specific clinical medical professionals. Just because a child has a clinical diagnoses and comes in with paperwork, this doesn't necessarily mean that the child qualifies for an IEP. The school evaluation team will have to follow their process in order to determine if they are eligible under one of the 13 disability categories, which could potentially be emotional disability. Some students qualify for OHI (Other Health Impairment), a 504 Plan, but only a school eval team can actually made that decision. Check out my blog post about emotional disabilities.

5 Helpful Behavior Books for Teacher Growth

Monday, March 18, 2019



1.) Self Reg by Dr. Stuart Shanker
I LOVE this book - it taught me so much about how our brains work during certain elements of the dysregulation and self-regulation cycle, as well as the real difference between self control and self regulation. While I'm not crazy about the push for using "self-reg" as it's own system created by the author, I do love how it's all rooted in psych research and brain based learning theories. So good, and helpful to learn the science behind students behavior.

Using Choice Boards as an Easy Proactive Behavior Intervention

Saturday, March 16, 2019
Coping Tools Choice Board - EDITABLE!


Just the concept of choice making ALONE is evidence based - Shogren et. al, 2004 tells us that implementing choices throughout the school day is consistently effective in reducing the frequency of problem behaviors, and additionally promotes self determination most specifically in students with identified disabilities. So yeah, let's give our kiddos choices, shall we?
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