1. Make sure this student knows what is expected.
2. Sit this student near the teacher.
3. Try using a carousel or separate seating.
4. Surround the child with others who know how to do the work.
5. Divide the workload into small, manageable “chunks.”
6. Be very structured and consistent.
7. Allow for extra time when needed.
1. Understand what this child is capable of doing.
2. Connect briefly with the child during the day.
3. Give constant feedback.
4. Meet with the child one-on-one during the school year.
5. Give immediate rewards.
6. Give a lot of encouragement and praise.
7. Keep a log on this student’s behavior, good and bad.
8. Help student to expand his or her attention span.
9. Teach the student to ask for help when confused.
10. Recognize the child’s strengths and successes.
11. Look at the student often during the lesson.
12. Remember to use different modalities during your lesson.
13. Ask the student to repeat the instructions.
14. Make a plan for organizing the student.
15. Allow the student to stretch or take a break when needed.
16. Let the child know when a transition is coming.
17. Enforce rules and consequences immediately.
18. Redirect privately.
The following are some ways to modify the classroom environment for students with special needs:
- Reduce the number of assignments.
- Decrease the amount of writing in an assignment.
- Modify tests (e.g., read math problems to student).
- Extend time for assignment completion.
- Participation at homework center.
- Use a timer to determine the amount of time to be spent on a particular assignment.
- Use visual aids when giving instruction.
- Use short, concise directions.
- Have a buddy repeat the directions to the student.
- Student uses a personal chalkboard/whiteboard.
- Provide a special study area.
- Provide a special learning partner.
- Have the student use a notebook/contract for organization.
- Demand an organized desk area and notebook.
- Timeout to another classroom.
- Provide “activity breaks.”
- Have the student dictate thought or story to an aide. Aide writes it down and student copies it.
- Encourage student to use a marker while reading.
- Change seating.
- Put fewer problems on each page.
- Assign short period of concentrated effort.
- Shorten assignments.
- Provide student with the opportunity to take the assignment home or to the homework center.
- Provide written directions.
- Encourage student to repeat your question before answering it.
- Teacher lists assignment on board and student copies it.
- Break complex directions into one- or two-step tasks.
- Change class assignments.
- Allow student to use earphones to screen out distractions while involved in a paper and pencil task.
- Vary test format.
- Deploy the student within classroom.
- Have the student work with an aide or cross-age tutor.
- Have the student use a computer for writing assignments.
If a child exhibits eight (8) or more of these signs, it is likely that attention disorder is related to the observed behaviors.
1. Often moves his or her feet or hands, or squirms in seat.
2. Has a real need to get up and move.
3. Anything seems to distract this student.
4. Has a very hard time waiting for his or her turn.
5. Wants to give answers or comments immediately without thinking them through.
6. Has trouble doing what others tell him or her to do.
7. Has difficulty sustaining attention in tasks or play activities.
8. Often goes to other tasks even before the first one is finished.
9. Talks a lot.
10. Interrupts others or takes things from other children.
11. Doesn’t seem to hear you or pay attention when you talk to him or her.
12. Often loses things needed for school.
13. Often engages in dangerous activities without considering the consequences.
Modifying the Classroom Environment
The following are some key ways to modify the classroom environment for ADHD/ADD students. (See next post for a full checklist.)
- Learn to realize what this student can and should be expected to do.
- Change teaching strategies during the lesson.
- Create contracts with specific behaviors.
- Reward often and be able to change rewards every few weeks.
- Give this person a place to work apart from others.
- Allow this person some latitude in his or her responses.
- Use specific consequences.
- Give as much structure and consistency as possible.
It’s been estimated that 20% of students have one or more developmental, learning, or behavioral disorders. It is important, therefore, to adjust your teaching practice to suit the specials needs of your students in the classroom. Here are some tips to consider as you do this:
How do I get them started?
Let these students know when you are starting and how long they will probably take to do the task. If possible, stay with them until they finish that initial stage of “I can’t do this” or “Why do I have to do this—it’s stupid.” If the whole thing is daunting for them, break it into small parts.
How do I get them to stay on task?
Clear away as many distractions as possible. Be sure to clean off the desk. Sometimes a student like this actually performs better with a rubber ball to hold. Their tension goes directly into that object. Keep telling the student what a nice job he or she is doing.
How do I get them to stay in their seats?
Make sure your student knows what you expect. This type of child may feel a great need to get up and walk around for a little while. Use this as a reward after a set amount of time following directions. Keep them away from areas of distraction like the door, pencil sharpener, or drinking fountain.
How do I get them to follow directions?
This child doesn’t understand or register subtle hints. You must be direct and clear in as few words as possible. Have the child repeat and explain what he or she is supposed to do. You may also have to go so far as to role-play the direction.
For more tips on working with students with special needs, check out Chapter 3: Working With Special Populations in the Substitute Teacher Handbook.