Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Inclusion of Special Needs Students in Your Classroom





Deciding how to best meet student’s needs occurs before classes start. This can be done among teachers during informal meetings, co-teaching, and formal meetings to recommend interventions or consider the appropriateness of how to best to teach the child with special needs. This collaboration also takes place with parents, siblings, guardians, and families during parent conferences as well as during day-to-day communication with parents regarding the progress of their child.

Collaboration involves cooperation, effective communication, shared problem solving, planning and finding solutions to ensure that all students in your classroom will learn to their fullest potential in an environment that promotes learning. To have constructive collaboration it is essential to establish an excellent partnership with all involved in working with students with special needs.

National Catholic Partnership on Disability (NCPD)- Samples of Registration Forms, Individualize Religion Education Plan, Alternative Religious Education Program Guidelines, Placement, Confidential Student File, Teaching Strategies, Permission for Classroom Observation, Release of Information, Volunteer Recruitment, Classroom Observation, Classroom Team Interview, Planning Meeting, Program Evaluation, and Report of Behavioral Incident.

When I find out that I am having a special needs child in my classroom I first meet with the parents and talk with them about their child and what their needs are. I also have the parents answer a questionnaire about their child before they come to class to help with the transition of their child into the classroom.

A training session of all personnel that will be involved with the child should be conducted before the student starts CCD to focus on identifying supports the student needs and how to implement them.

When writing up your lesson plans be sure to include strategies and adaptations for the student so you can best meet their unique needs.


Example:

Accommodation Suggestions for Students with ADHD


For Beginning Activities

Give small amounts of work.
Provide signals to begin.
Use timers and encourage self-monitoring.
Use verbal and written directions.
Provide additional structure (e.g., large-lined paper).
Highlight directions using larger fonts or colors.



For Keeping On-Task

Increase frequency of positive reinforcement.
Use peer assistants.
Make tasks interesting.
Break tasks into smaller, “manageable” units.
Allow breaks.
Use hands-on activities.



For Listening

Teach note taking and encourage use of notebook organizers.
Use positive reinforcement.
Allow doodling.
Allow standing.



For Excessive Activity

Use activity as rewards (run errands, wash boards, move desks).
Allow standing during class.
Encourage active participation.
Reward sitting.



For Impulsive Behavior

Provide acceptable alternatives.
Encourage trying to continue with another part of the assignment before interrupting the teacher.
Recommend not taking during lectures.
Recommend writing down questions and answers before blurting out.
Teach acceptable social behavior for conversations, for class behavior, and for interacting with peers.
Reward listening and appropriate behaviors.



For Working Independently

Ensure tasks match ability levels.
Provide brief directions.
Use brief tasks.
Use checklists for self-monitoring.
Use positive reinforcement.



For Following Class Rules

Keep rules simple.
Post and review class rules.
Model and role-play following rules.
Be consistent with enforcement of rules.
Provide students with copies of rules.




Meet with past teachers and find out what worked best for this student and what you as a teacher need to do to help the student learn to their fullest potential.

After you have met with the parents, past teachers, etc. and discussed thoroughly what the needs are for this student write up a lesson plan that includes any differentiation of presentation and response for the student, explicit strategies to meet the learning needs of this child or any other information or accommodations and/or modifications that the student requires. The lesson plan should be thorough and be able to use with all students in the class.

Example of one of my lesson plans including a student with ADHD



After you have done the lesson with your students you should evaluate the lesson. Self-evaluation is a very important part of every lesson. It requires you to think back on the lesson and consider the answers to general questions like these:

What went well in this lesson? Why?
What problems did I experience? Why?
Was it “student centered”? Should it have been?
What could I have done differently?
What did I learn from this experience that will help me in the future?

It is also helpful to break the lesson plan into its different components:

Preparation and research - Was I well prepared? - What could I have done differently?
Written plan - Was I organized? Did the written format work? Is there a better form?
Presentation - Were the students involved? Was I clear in my presentation? How was the pacing?
Assessment - Does my method(s) of assessment measure what I want? How did the class do? What should I change for next time?

Take the time to seriously reflect on your lesson. It is important to train yourself to be self-reflective/critical and “process” what your experience was. It is the primary way to learn from past experience and it will enable your students to learn to their fullest potential.





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