The Functional Skills program has been formed to teach academic, communication, behaviour and social skills in either one to one or small group settings.  This means that all students in the room have difficulty in most of these areas.  Changes in school routines, supporting adults (SEAs) and a daily rotating schedule means that there although some parts of the routine are fairly predictable, everything can change without notice.  There are often new adults working with students. 


There is little time in the schedule for discussion between teachers and support staff about the needs of particular students.  As there are numerous adults working with students this can cause confusion as to how to handle particular behaviours.

We follow the same daily class times except for Wednesday where the entire morning is off by 15 minutes.  Although this does not affect students directly, it does cause difficulties for the adults supporting them and they are sometimes preoccupied with these events rather than the students they are working with.


It has also been difficult encouraging support staff who do not typically work in the Functional Skills program to interact with students during breaks and lunch leisure time.  Often students are left unoccupied and they are not able to start an activity or ask to interact without assistance.


As well, some support staff do not take the initiative to assist students during unscheduled time or transitions and wait for teacher direction.  As many of the supporting adults change with every block and every day, it is difficult to have a specific person assigned to a student and even then they often do not follow through.


"Supporting independence" is our classroom mission statement.  This means that we teach students a required skill and provide our assistance until they can complete it independently and in any setting.  As we are a high school it is important that our students behave in age appropriate ways that are developmentally appropriate as well.


Read more about the Functional Skills program, the Classroom Curriculum, or some of my Teaching Resources.




Classroom/School Strengths

  • classroom is large/uncluttered/not too visually distracting
  • daily schedule is posted using visual symbols (Boardmaker)
  • students are seated in close proximity to the teacher
  • students know by name/picture cards where their work space/school items are located
  • lockers are close to classroom - use one digit combinations
  • students work at their own developmental level and pace
  • one to one and small group work predominates
  • school is visually appealing
  • school provides adequate support staff
  • students are able to access all facilities/take part in school-wide activities


Classroom/School Resources

  • two low incidence special education teachers for 16 students
  • good supervision for one to one and small group teaching activities
  • not available at all times (other classes/case management/prep times)
  • only one teacher has special ed training
  • adequate SEA (special education assistant) support
  • SEAs have received training in support students with autism and ABA
  • space is available for one to one teaching with distractions



  • large number of low incidence students in program with high needs
  • large number of support staff to direct
  • inadequate time for team training/discussion/supervision
  • large school with changing routines/schedules
  • little District support with problems or mentoring of new teachers


Classroom Goals

  • student independence and continued learning
  • age appropriate interactions with peers and adults


Problematic Classes/Routines

  • unstructured time (break, leisure skills time in classroom at lunch)
  • transitions (before class starts, end of lessons/activities, lining up to change activities, waiting for adults)
  • difficult tasks (new skills, fine motor skills)