Thankful Heart 2013: Day 10 – Personalities

Our Crowded Heart


My three daughters look so much alike that even though they are 14 and 22 months apart, when dressed alike for pictures, people often think they are triplets.  However, they are very different on the inside. Each has their own unique personality.  I found that this required different parenting styles as they were growing, which they tended to see as favoritism. However, I believe that even the Bible calls us to treat each one with the level of care and discipline they require as an individual in I Thessalonians 5.


As a teacher, the same is true. I need to approach each student as an individual and not only treat them, but teach them, according to their individual need. Raising children who are each so different has prepared me to be a better teacher. I am thankful that they taught me how to teach and nurture children with not only…

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Alphabet of Thankfulness: D is for Daily Routines

Children learn best through repetition. So, it is important to offer repetitive activities for reinforcement of skills you are teaching. In younger grades and in every level of special education, a morning calendar time is important for so many areas of learning. Click here to for more on Morning Meeting – Circle Time.

In addition to  morning meeting or calendar circle, there are other daily routines that students need to be taught. These include social skills and things as simple as toileting or hand washing. When students of any age or level know what is coming next or what is expected of them, they find it easier to focus on what they are doing now. Many times, student misbehavior is caused by perceptions of things to come. To alleviate negative behaviors, students need a routine in which they can relax and know their time frames and boundaries. Some example of these would be as follows:

Toileting Routine:


Obviously you could add more or less to this as needed.

Picture Schedule:


This is a small section of a full day schedule

Hallway Procedures:


Students change the location they are headed to before they leave the room each time.

These picture cards were created in Board Maker, but could easily be created with clip art or by taking actual photo’s of activities and locations. Each has velcro on the back so it can be removed and manipulated as needed.

Thankful Heart 2013: Day 4 – Co-workers

Reblogged from my first blog at

Our Crowded Heart

I am so thankful for the team of people who make up the Special Education staff at North Riverside. They are some of the most talented and amazing teachers, para-professionals and specialists with whom I have ever come in contact. They make my job so much easier because I know they are taking care of their pieces of this puzzle so that I am not picking up the slack. Just a few of the things that make them awesome are:

Mrs. D is a certified teacher working as an Aide in my classroom, but acting like she is in her own classroom and taking responsibility to the educational needs of our students in every aspect imaginable.

Mrs. R is also a certified teacher, working as an Aide in our Resource classroom. Her compassion for all the students at NRES is clear from the way she greets students in the hallway…

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Alphabet of Thankfulness – B is for Bubbles


first – then board

Today and every day, I am thankful for bubbles. Reinforcers are very important in a classroom of students with Autism Spectrum disorders, or really any classroom. For some students bubbles are a powerful reinforcement solution. Every student in my class responds to bubbles in a positive way, but for some, they are worth doing work that nothing else will motivate them to do. I introduce the bubbles at the same time as I introduce the task to be completed by setting both in front of the student and showing the student a first-then board.

My first-then boards are nothing more than velcro on a laminated page. They should be very simple as to not distract the student from the reason for the choice board; getting them to learn. These work great at home as well. In fact, having students use the same supports at home as they use in the classroom are a powerful aid in their learning process. They learn to follow instructions the same way wherever they are. They begin to realize that Mom, Dad, Teachers, everyone wants them to follow the same task for reward system and it becomes not only easier for the student to follow, but easier for parents and teachers to manage. Most people, including our students, are creatures of habit. The more the habit crosses from school to home, the more quickly they will master it.

So, today I am thankful for bubbles, bouncy balls, fidget boxes, and other powerful reinforcers in my classroom!

First-Then Board FREEBIE!

Alphabet of Thankfulness – C is for Custodian


A Special Thank You to our Custodians

Custodian Appreciation Day was October 2nd, but we didn’t know about it until the middle of the month. So, the Special Education Department joined together to create a way to recognize the custodial staff at NRES. Without them we could not effectively do our jobs; they are the core of our campus. They keep our building running, keep our floors shining, and make sure every detail is taken care of in the appearance  and maintenance of our campus. They don’t get enough recognition and typically work behind the scenes before and after school when others are not around to witness their hard work. When we walk into our building each day we just expect things to be in their place and don’t consider how that occurred. I am thankful for our custodial staff and helped my department to show our appreciation in the bulletin board depicted in the attached pictures. I hope you also take the time to thank them for everything they do or at a minimum, learn their names and treat them with the respect that they deserve.


We love our Custodians at NRES!

Alphabet of Thankfulness – A is for Alphabet

alphabet-video-01I am going to write 26 days of thankfulness based on the letters of the alphabet. So, obviously letter A goes first. Follow me the rest of the month as this unfolds! Here we go.

As a teacher, I am thankful for the alphabet. It is one of the first things my students learn and takes some of them from non-verbal to asking questions and getting answers in the span of one school year. I have one student who started the school year with very little verbal capacity, even though he had been in school since he was 3 years old. From August until December this student spoke in his own language, refused to sit in a chair or write, bit me and other students who kept him from getting his way, and seemed to be headed down a very long road of problematic school years. We did everything we could to get him to learn his alphabet in hopes that this would open him up to a world of language he had not known before. Using a video system for our morning circle time, we introduced him to letters, sounds, colors, numbers, and songs. Finally, after almost 18 weeks of school this student began to sing along. He could watch the video without sound and name the letters from the sight of them. He could sing every word! Eventually, he was saying Mommy and Daddy to the excitement of his parents. As his language began to develop, his biting and hitting were reduced. After one full school year he is now sitting in a chair and doing work for 30-45 minutes at a time. He is writing his alphabet and his name from memory. He is saying things in class like. “What happened to Optimus, Mrs. Hardisty?” and “Help! She can’t climb up there”. It just thrills my heart o hear his little voice, which did not exist a year ago. I give the credit to a bit of maturity and a lot of time spent working on memorizing an alphabet song on Vimeo or YouTube!

Students Say the Funniest Things

Today as I sat with my back to a student I heard him call my name. Without turning around I asked him what he needed. He said, “I need Mrs. Hardisty.”  I said, I am Mrs. Hardisty. ” His response is priceless when you realize I have lost 52 pounds since March. He said, “No. Mrs. Hardisty is bigger!” I turned around to look at him, to which he responded “Oh.” As if to realize it was me afterall. I then smiled and whispered, “I used to be bigger.” Lol. #out of the mouth’s of babes