Working with Students with Special Needs: Part II – Adjusting Your Teaching

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.

One thought on “Working with Students with Special Needs: Part II – Adjusting Your Teaching”

  1. Elizabeth

    Thanks, I’m a new teacher struggling with kids with various learning problems in my class. These tips are invaluable.

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