Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Schedule Suduko

As much as I love the community of support there is online as a teacher of learners with severe or multiple special needs sometimes what you need is another teacher who is right there. My classroom was in need of a new staff rotation schedule to begin after February break (yes, non-New England readers, we get a February break). Not being a sudoku or logic puzzle aficionado I was really struggling to figure it out. How was I going to make five students with 1:1 instructional assistants, four instructional assistants and myself work into a rotating schedule that was equitable and would not create issues with time in learning, toileting or behavior?

Luckily I sat puzzling this out as I awaiting the beginning of a meeting of mentor teachers. I commented that despite a decade in the field I really needed some mentoring to make my new schedule work. Another teacher, from another special needs program, who I see at mentor teacher meetings about four times a year, gave me a great suggestion, but I still couldn't make it work. Finally she offered to show me how to do it, I handed her the paper, she created a grid, plugged in all the students and staff in the bizarre way I needed it done and five minutes later I had the staff rotations for the rest of the year worked out (by the way 16 more weeks for us).

Sometimes this is what I feel I miss out on the most teaching a low incidence population, colleagues who can see and think outside the box or just possess talents that I do not, such as schedule sukodu. I wouldn't trade teaching my class for anything in the world, but I wouldn't mind having an accessible group of teachers who do the same thing I do nearby.


  1. I love the name! Scheduling Sudoku just make so much sense!

  2. ME TOO! I saw your post and laughed because I play Schedule Sudoku every day. I have a grid on the whiteboard at the front of my room where the daily Rotations schedule is posted. The rest of the daily agenda is posted underneath. Fortunately I don't have to do sudoku for the whole day because everyone has all the other routines worked out for the most part. And our weekly routine pretty much stays the same until I get the hare brained idea to make changes (or have changes thrust on me by the Powers That Be). What gets tricky is that I have to rearrange the schedule every day to accommodate absent staff and kids, the rotating community schedule, therapists "dropping in," the inevitable "had a seizure before school so is a 'little' drugged" (read "passed out") or "blister on foot so no AFOs please," etc. And don't get me started on "short staff" days! As far as equitable division of labor, the biggest bone of contention among my staff is, of all things, the DISHES! The one thing I don't care how it gets done, just that it gets done? The dishes!

    And I know just how lonely it gets and frustrating when you know there's an answer to your problem that you just can't see by yourself but no one else around you gets it. I am one of 2 teachers in my county-wide, 9 district coop who do what I do. I have a colleague in another district who teaches a class of "higher functioning" kids (OK, for the most part not really; biggest difference is her kids just have too many behaviors and mine don't have enough) but we don't have many opportunities to get together to compare notes and share support. And since tacking high school onto my middle school program there really is no one else out there (in my coop) doing what I'm doing. Sure would have been nice to have had that pal to lean on last week when my paras were squabbling like a bunch of middle schoolers and we had to have a pow wow. UGH! And where is the person who can guide me in deciding how the high school level curriculum should look and how to support students and families through the transition to adult services process in very rural Kansas? Mentor where are you? Oh wait, that's ME! HA HA Wow! And apparently having a compassionate ear to vent to would come in handy, huh? Not trying to say I'm completely on my own except for some "cyber friends" out there. I have a good team, especially with my SLP. But it does get a bit lonely from time to time.


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