As the year progressed, and Mrs. Paolini got to know her students better, it became apparent that more equipment and materials were needed. Mrs. Paolini created a Donors Choose page named, Special Supports for Sensory Seekers. Her wish list included heavy-duty dividers, yoga mats, and a lot of unique equipment to support sensory and attention needs. Fortunately, her project was funded and she received everything her student’s needed.
Aside from the equipment, the students in Mrs. Paolini’s classroom have access to a variety of curriculum and programs to meet their individualized needs. If you were to walk into her classroom at any given time, you would see almost every student working on something different. Her students come in with all different skill sets and abilities, requiring a wide range of differentiation. Currently, Mrs. Paolini is utilizing four different curricula, on varying levels, for daily direct instruction.
Mrs. Paolini doesn’t just focus on academics. All of her students have access to an applied behavior analysis program, yoga sessions on individual mats, and social skills lessons. Overall, the programming, interventions, and delivery of instruction have allowed students within Mrs. Paolini’s classroom to thrive. She has created a space that supports, yet provides safe boundaries, for each student’s individualized needs. Sensory input needs are met, not just through the well-equipped sensory room, but within Mrs. Paolini’s classroom as well. She has designated spaces in the classroom for sensory breaks and sensory equipment. Students can spend a few minutes in the rocking chair with a weighted blanket, utilize a liquid timer, or bounce on the trampoline. The equipment and this specialty designated space allow Mrs. Paolini, and her team, to provide the students of Mars Primary Center with the instruction that they need.
Like all classrooms, teaching through the pandemic has presented some new hurtles for Mrs. Paolini with regards to keeping the classroom and the materials clean and safe. Mrs. Paolini said, “We always were very sanitary due to the nature of our environment, all the shared equipment, and just being more hands on overall. However, we really upped our game with cleaning this year.” This added to the daily duties of prepping the classroom. They also now keep a “Needs to Be Cleaned” bin, where items used by a student will remain until sanitized properly. They also keep each student’s individual workspace, bins, and materials clean and ready for use.
Mrs. Paolini loves her job and it shows through her interactions with her students. She said, “I feel as though everyday my support staff and myself are constantly celebrating. We love celebrating all victories with our students!” We as educators celebrate Mrs. Paolini too and all that she has brought to Mars Primary Center’s students!