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635 Module 11: Assessment 4 – Classroom Simulation Paper


Please upload your Classroom Simulation Paper here.

Here is a chance to share what you’ve learned. You are working as the special education teacher in an ICT Kindergarten classroom with 17 students without IEPs and 6 children with IEPs (23 children total). Children with IEPs include:

· 1 child with high functioning autism, also diagnosed with ADHD

· 1 child classified with a hearing impairment and cochlear implants

· 1 child with sensory processing disorder

· 1 child with Down syndrome 

· 1 child diagnosed with selective mutism

· 1 child who uses a wheelchair 


Additionally, 3 children in the class are bilingual all speaking Spanish in their home (no IEPs). You have a general education teacher in the room as well as 3 paraprofessionals: one who is a native Spanish speaker but assigned to he child with Down syndrome, one assigned to the child in a wheelchair and another assigned to the child with the hearing impairment. Therapists are on site at the school and may push in or pull out from time to time but are not always available at a moment’s notice. 
Looking closely at the rubric requirements, decide how you will:

1) Set up your classroom?

2) Plan/schedule your day?

3) Integrate your curriculum?

4) Communicate effectively with parents?

5) Collaborate with the other adults in the room?

6) Balance your role as the special education teacher (paperwork, IEP goals, etc.) with the need to also be a fully immersed co-teacher for all children in the classroom? 


Make sure to back up these ideas with your textbook reading(s) (3000 word limit – only the first 3000 words will be read for your grade). You should include a picture or sketch of the room layout – not necessarily a perfect diagram but labels where things are. In order to do so, you will need to embed the picture into your paper and include a second attachment.

Please use only these resources:

Cook, R. E., Klein, M. D., & Chen, D. (2019). 
Adapting early childhood curricula for children with special needs Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Merrill Prentice Hall.



Serving as a public educator has always been a rewarding as well as challenging experience; in the age of Covid, declining state budgets, and uncertain federal support, educating children has never been more difficult. An increase in students with disabilities combined with budget cuts in many states has created a situation where teachers and administrators need to work to be more effective and efficient than ever before in order to ensure that children get the education they deserve. To this end, a dedicated teacher will put even more thought into the way they educate children than they might have before; proper planning tied to evidence-based principles goes a long way towards increasing the opportunities for educators to help their students meet with success. This paper will expand on the classroom simulation, discussing how I plan to structure my classroom, schedule the day, integrate curriculum, communicate effectively with parents, collaborate with other adults in the room, and balancing the dual roles of being a special education teacher with being a teacher for all students present in the classroom.

Classroom Setup

Room Layout

The foundation for this classroom setup is the principles of Universal Design; these principles are widely applicable in many design contexts, but are especially useful as it pertains to classrooms (particularly those that will hold children with a variety of physical and mental disabilities). The first consideration is the safety of the children, and this classroom was set up with a “safety first” mentality. Cook (2019) notes, with regard to a safe room setup, “The room should be uncluttered, with well-defined and consistent activity areas”. In addition, it is important that the room allows children to move around safely, with thought given to the individual needs of children with different motor capabilities. This was my primary concern when I designed the space, and that level of concern is reflected in the outcome. The proposed room has wide travel corridors (making for easy access for the child who is wheelchair-bound), and contains well-defined and consistent areas. This is crucial because some children with autism and other mental disorders need a consistent, unchanging classroom environment to maximize their learning potential (Cook, 2019). This room reflects that guideline, offering an environment that will be safe and familiar for all students and teachers.

Grouping Students

Another consideration was how to most efficiently group the students within the classroom. The layout includes a large common area in the middle, for up to eighteen students. Along the perimeter of the room is the individual stations such as the science center, art center, sensory table, and others; by placing these centers at the perimeter, they allow for small groups of students to congregate at them, while large group meetings can be held in the center of the room. Cook (2019) argues that any station should allow for at least two children to visit at the same time, promoting play and interactions. The room layout reflects this advice, with each individual station having enough room for at least two children at once. It is also suggested that large group meetings allow plenty of space for each child, and to allow children to sit at the same level (Cook, 2019, pg. 142). The room layout adheres to this suggestion as well, with the large center space, and plenty of chairs for each child to sit, thus ensuring the wheelchair-bound student is not at a different level.

Sound and Visual Materials

A final consideration for this room setup was the way that noise would be managed, as well as visual materials presented. A noisy room can be distracting for everyone; in particular, children that are “hard of hearing, have visual impairments, or autism” may find such an environment particularly challenging (Cook, 2019, pg. 142). When I designed my classroom, I located the bookshelves strategically between each station in order to reduce noise levels. It performs the role of noise-absorbing material. This should help all students, and particularly the students suffering from autism, sensory processing disorders, and hearing impairments, concentrate on their work. The classroom is also stocked with visual aids, the kind that will help reinforce lessons and help children with hearing and eyesight disabilities. Cook (2019) suggests that visual aids are helpful in engaging the attention of children and helping them understand concepts, so the use of bulletin boards and other visuals is heavily present in my classroom. In addition, in the book center of my classroom, the students would found many beanbag chairs and a rug; next to it, I located a mini sofa. The students can use this space as a “cozy corner” where they can take time to navigate their feelings such as frustration, anger, disappointment, and even anxiety that is common for children with disabilities. I think it benefits the child’s learning since it gives children space where they can collect themselves and get ready to return to a group or their individual work. Finally, I would ensure that in my classroom, the rugs are very thin so that it won’t prevent a child in the wheelchair from moving the classroom safely.

A computer screen shot of a diagram  Description automatically generated

Organization of Day

Planning Process

The first step in establishing a schedule and routine for the children is to engage in comprehensive planning that takes into account, among other factors, the specific needs of the children, their progress, the curriculum being taught, and any time constraints. There are various tools that can be used in order to help a teacher do this; for this simulation, I found the Inclusion Planning Checklist to be the most effective tool. The Inclusion Planning Checklist is a series of questions that helps a teacher quantify whether or not they have included all children in the routine that they have proposed (Cook, 2019). By using this tool, the author found it easy to ensure that the scheduling was done with all students needs in mind, helping reduce the chances that a child was left out. A second tool the author used during the planning process was a simple diagram that shows each learning group and their activities from beginning to end of the day. By spending more time up front planning the schedule, as well as using standardized tools, a teacher will improve the quality of that schedule as it relates to their goal of effectively educating the children under their care.

Schedule Approach

The schedule that I have chosen will be a basic block schedule, one that includes large group, small group, and individual instruction. The subjects will be determined by the specific curriculum presented, but will include language arts, math, science, music, and arts. All days will begin with a familiar routine of greeting, a morning song, gathering of coats, and settling in. Next, a large block of time (likely seventy five minutes) will be dedicated to a core subject, either language arts or math rotating each day. Following this, the students will get lunch and a recess period. Upon returning from those, they will be broken up into smaller groups to allow for individualized instruction in the subjects presented. Music and art will be rotated each day, and a period will be given to each student for individual work. The end of the day will always have the group coming back together as a whole, with final instructions and dismissal activities.

There are several specific reasons for this scheduling approach. First, the schedule is grounded in consistency and routine; this predictable routine helps all children feel a sense of control of their day, as well as comfort in knowing what is going to happen (Cook, 2019). Often times, this predictability is not present in the child’s home life, so having it at school can be a welcome break from their chaotic personal schedule. Second, this predictable and strictly scheduled routine specifically helps teach challenged students, such as the ones with autism or Down’s syndrome. A teacher can use the predictable routine to highlight new concepts on a daily basis to students with mental disabilities, increasing the chances that they stick with the student (Cook, 2019). The nature of this schedule should support the goal of giving the best possible education to all students in the class.

Curriculum and Differentiation

Strategies for Differentiation

Differentiation is an educational concept that holds equality is better defined as giving each student an equal opportunity to learn, rather than teaching everyone the same way. In this simulation, my classroom has six special needs students and seventeen without special needs. Therefore, differentiation is imperative in order to give everyone the best chance at learning. There are several strategies that are effective at achieving differentiation. The first is the use of problem solving and challenge-based learning opportunities, tiered to the capabilities of the student groups (Cook, 2019). This strategy helps promote critical thinking and gives students the feeling of accomplishment when they achieve the goal or solve the problem.

A second differentiation that has proven effective is the use of open-ended questions from teacher to students (Cook, 2019). Once again, this helps promote critical thinking, teachers the children to consider the problem in a multidimensional fashion, and promotes the idea of independent questioning and analysis. A final differentiation strategy is student choice (Cook, 2019). Each student will be given a half hour period during the day where they can explore a subject that they find the most interesting, from math to art. This strategy helps the students work to find their passion amongst the many subjects they will be taught, and gives them a sense of control over a part of their day.

Specific Strategies for Disabled Children

There are specific strategies that will be integrated into the curriculum to help the six children who suffer from various disabilities. A first strategy is consistent daily routines, a feature of this plan; these routines give disabled children more confidence and competence with the skills, as well as more opportunities to practice them daily (Cook, 2019). A second strategy is building the curriculum around “meaningful activities” (Cook, 2019, pg. 127). Research suggests these activities are more motivational, and help the students become more interested in learning the skill being taught. A final strategy is engagement, with the teacher and the aides working on an individualized basis with the special need student (Cook, 2019). This routine is structured to give disabled students as much individualized attention as possible.

Parent and Team Communication/Collaboration

Teacher-Parent Communication Strategies

Virtually every credible research effort has concluded that it is imperative for parents to be involved in the education process; when parents work side by side with their child’s teacher towards the educational goals, the child stands a much greater chance of reaching those goals (Cook, 2019). Each child’s home life is different, so communication strategies have to be individually tailored. Cook (2019) points out that it is very common in America’s increasingly multilingual society for parents to struggle with the English language; obviously, this presents substantial communication challenges if the teacher does not speak their native language. In this case, a very effective strategy to improve communication with parents is to utilize the services of a qualified interpreter (Ruth, 2019). During the meeting the teacher should lay out a meeting syllabus, listen clearly, and observe non-verbal communication patterns. Doing so can greatly improve the quality of communication between the teacher and the parents in the case of language barriers.

A second communication strategy that can help foster better collaboration between teacher and parents is having the teacher take the time to explain the nature and goals of their curriculum. Cook (2019) notes that it is common for parents to not understand a pre-school curriculum; for example, they might be confused as to why play or recess is included. It can be very helpful for the teacher to spend time discussing the philosophical as well as evidence-based reasoning behind their curriculum and schedule choices, essentially helping to educate the parents about how the teacher is educating the child. Doing so puts the parents at ease, and empowers them to become partners in the education process instead of uninformed adversaries.

Positive Collaboration Amongst Professionals

A teacher, like many professionals, will have to work with their peers as well as their supervisors frequently during the course of their job. Fostering a collaborative relationship between professionals is a simple way to improve the outcomes sought by all parties, as well as make the interactions less stressful for everyone. There are many strategies that might be chosen to improve this collaborative relationship. A first is the setting of mutually acceptable goals (Cook, 2019). When two parties are working towards the same outcome, it can be far easier to do so in a healthy and collaborative way, rather than giving redundant or counterproductive efforts. In addition, by setting a goal an agreement has been reached; this can make it easier for the parties to move towards additional agreements in a “breaking the ice” fashion. For these reasons, the setting of mutually acceptable and understood goals is a simple yet effective strategy for improving collaboration between professionals.

A second strategy for improving collaboration between the teacher and other professionals is the use of “win-win” conflict resolution (Cook, 2019, pg. 387). The principle of win-win conflict resolution is to reach a solution that benefits both parties, rather than a “zero-sum” approach where one person winning means the other is losing. When this is accomplished, both parties can walk away from a potentially contentious situation feeling positive about the outcome, and positive about their relationship. When a conflict occurs and the resolution leaves one party feeling slighted, the negative impact on the relationship can far outweigh the short-term gains won in the resolution. As such, pursuing this conflict resolution strategy is an excellent way for teachers to improve collaboration with other professionals.

Collaboration with Other Adults in the Teaching Room

In this classroom simulation there are three paraprofessionals as well as a general education teacher supporting the students. Clearly, there will be a great deal of communication and collaboration that occurs between the parties. As such, it is important to implement specific collaboration strategies to help ensure the relationships stay strong and focused on educating the students effectively. Cook (2019) suggests using side-by-side coaching, where the teacher gives feedback to the paraprofessional while they are working. Giving specific, clearly stated, and timely feedback can help the paraprofessional grow into a more confident instructor, and help build a strong collaborative relationship between them and the teacher (Cook, 2019).

A second strategy to help foster collaboration between the teacher and the paraprofessionals is the use of written performance feedback. Cook (2019) notes that the most up to date research concludes that written feedback is more effective than verbal feedback. By providing written feedback that looks at strengths, weaknesses, behaviors, and attitudes the teacher can help the paraprofessional grow in their career (Cook, 2019). While criticism can always be stressful for some people, when it is included in a broader performance review that notes strengths it can be a tool to help the paraprofessional trust the teacher, continue to collaborate with them.

A final strategy for ensuring strong collaboration between the teacher and paraprofessionals is to ensure that the teacher goes out of their way to note successes and improvements by the paraprofessional (Cook, 2019). This feedback should be sincere and spontaneous, and help the paraprofessional understand that the teacher sees them as a partner in educating children, not as a burden or a tool to be used. When the paraprofessional feels this respect they will be more likely to engage in collaborative practices with the teacher leading to a better educational experience for the students.

Balancing Roles as a Teacher

The dual roles of special education teacher as well as general co-teacher for the whole class can be difficult to balance. There are several steps that a teacher can and should take in order to achieve a balance between the roles. The first step is to partner with the other paraprofessionals and teachers in the room to help educate them about special education, empowering them to take over some of the special education roles that the teacher will struggle to fill while they are working with the entire class (Cook, 2019). When this occurs, the teacher will be able to more effectively delegate responsibilities to the paraprofessionals, knowing they are qualified to fill those roles or perform special needs tasks.

A second step that teachers can take to balance their role with the special education aspect of their job is to put more time into planning. While this sounds simple, comprehensive and well thought out planning can go a long way towards identifying and avoiding situations where the teacher feels that they are being pulled in too many directions at once. One part of this step is to encourage the paraprofessionals to also begin to take on some planning responsibility, to help alleviate the burden from falling just on the teacher, and helping those paraprofessionals to develop career-wise. Of course, it is impossible to plan for every situation that might occur that puts stress on the teacher and forces them to wear two hats at once; however, it is a big step towards mitigating those situations and improving the outcomes for all stakeholders in the classroom.


In conclusion, it is imperative for teachers to apply evidence-based practice to their work in order to help ensure that students are taught as effectively and efficiently as possible. Only a few decades ago concepts like differentiation were not even considered, and a one-size fits all approach was the standard. Today, education is a dynamic and innovative field, where new research influences new strategies for teaching students. As the country’s budget issues continue to grow more challenging, teachers will need to lead the way on educating students better, with less.


Cook, R. E., Klein, M. D., & Chen, D. (2019). 
Adapting early childhood curricula for children with special needs Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Merrill Prentice Hall.


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