5 Tips for Anyone Working with Special Needs Students

5 Tips for Anyone Working with Special Needs Students

Tips for Addressing the Learning Needs of Students with Disabilities

As a mother of three, it’s hard not to reward and discipline them all the same. It might be easier for me at first, but in the long run, it just doesn’t work. After, all, they are three unique individuals who are motivated by different things and need to have three individual plans. The same applies to the classroom. Each student is unique in how they learn, how they socialize, and how they are motivated.

Keeping that in mind, figuring out how to provide equal access to your lessons for all of your students is a monstrous undertaking. Below you will find a few tips to get you started, whether you are a general education teacher, special education teacher, or paraprofessional.

 5 Tips for Anyone Working with Special Needs Students

  1. Get Involved: If you aren’t already attending the IEP or other meetings for the student get involved and attend the next scheduled one. You will learn a lot and get some insight into the student you didn’t have before. As a mother of a high schooler on a 504 plan, I have learned over the many years, teachers who take the time to attend the meeting never have any issues throughout the school year, the ones that didn’t, do!
  2. Be Prepared: Know as much as you can about the student’s behaviors, modifications, and accommodations. Read the IEP and ask for help as needed to make sure you know what modifications/accommodations are needed for them to access the general education curriculum. A student may have behaviors that affect their learning. Determine what they are and implement effective strategies to reduce disruptions to their learning opportunities.
  3. Find their Strengths: Find each student’s strengths. If they have an IEP, start there as it will provide you with valuable information including the student’s strengths and interests. As the student, if they are able because they will give you some pretty good insight. Parents are also a great resource. Consider creating a little survey they can complete about their child – what information will be the most beneficial for you as their teacher?
  4. Never Give Up: If you are working on a specific goal, with little success, don’t give up. Keep practicing, keep reinforcing because many students with a disability learn new things at a much slower rate. However, also, look at how you’ve been teaching the goal: do you need more hands-on opportunities, are you giving immediate feedback, do you need to practice the new skill in multiple settings, or do you need to adjust the goal into smaller easier to achieve steps?
  5. Consider Assistive Technology (AT): For many students, the use of AT is the key to success and the key to inclusion. Learn as much as you can about the different types of AT from no/low-tech to high-tech options.
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