Many schools have difficulty finding planning time for teachers of self-contained special education classes that include two or more grade levels of students. This problem also occurs when we have combination classes (i.e.) a K-1 class, usually created because there are a few more students in each grade level, but not enough to warrant two new sections, one for each grade level, thus the mixed class. Because schools generally want students to go to encore classes (specials) with their age peers, when the kindergarten students are out to PE, the 1st grade students may still be in the classroom; thus no planning time for the teacher. Often the solution is to send the whole class together with one or the other grade level.
I stumbled upon another possibility last week while working in a school that had self-contained gifted classes in grades 3-5 housed in a center attached to one of the district’s elementary schools. ( I don’t agree with the model, but then again, I don’t get to decide, either.) There were three classes: a 5th grade, a 4th grade, and a 3/4 combination.
Our solution was to match the 3rd grade recess and lunch time with the 4th grade encore time and in the next period match the 3rd grade encore time with the 4th grade recess and lunch time. Thus the teacher of the 3/4 classroom would send her 3rd grade students to lunch and recess while her fourth grade students were at encore classes (thus no students) and do the reverse in the next period. Therefore she has 90 minutes of lunch and planning time back to back and students have lunch and encore classes with their age peers. Here’s the full schedule; the parts relevant to this discussion are highlighted in blue and red.
What do you think?