Mental/physical disabilities shouldn’t prevent children from acquiring high-quality education. Statistics show that over 6% of children aged 5-15 are mentally/physically disabled, whereas 20% of those aged between 16-64 suffer from a mental/physical impairment.
That’s why special education has become a flourishing profession in the United States that requires well-trained teachers with unconventional strategies since children with special needs can’t learn via traditional teaching methods.
So, teachers must be well-accustomed to these untraditional academic strategies to help their students. We’ll try to explain some crucial methods experienced instructors have found beneficial during their careers.
Special Education Strategies for Teachers
Several learning disabilities prevent special students from performing brilliantly in their classes. It’s estimated that 4-9 percent of Americans have a learning disability. These disabilities include dyslexia, ADHD, and several related examples. It’s essential to maintain a well-organized classroom since disruptions consume 144 minutes every week.
Some 50% of special education professionals leave their posts after five years. Neglecting the correct teaching strategy with disabled children leads to burnout among instructors and eventually compels them to quit.
The following strategies will enable you to teach your special pupils efficiently:
- Learn ABA therapy
Teachers should learn ABA therapy to understand a student’s behavior. This technique can help you promote helpful practices among students and discourage harmful attitudes. A master’s degree in ABA special education allows teachers to be well-acquainted with behavioral problems faced by their students.
It also helps you to increase a special student’s communication capabilities. So, your pupils will interact with each other and understand their lessons effectively in the classroom.
- Teach social skills
Secondly, take some time to teach children some basic social skills that make special students fast-learning individuals. For instance, raising their hands to ask questions or taking turns to enjoy a toy are skills an educator should teach them.
Moreover, autistic children have “tics” or specific self-stimulating behavioral patterns they habitually repeat. You can explain these tics to other kids. It’ll enable them to interact with each other in a friendly manner and collaborate in the classroom.
- Supervise them constantly
A teacher can’t bury their face in the newspaper while being oblivious to the class’s atmosphere. In special education, a teacher’s engagement and supervision are essential. You should monitor a student’s activities and prevent negative behavior.
When students watch you moving around, it’ll motivate them to get involved. You may answer their questions or have brief conversations with them. Look for harmful behavior among students and persuade them to adopt healthy habits.
- Arrange their seats:-
Your lessons won’t be productive without removing distractions affecting special children. Unlike traditional classrooms with circular seating, autistic children require some space between them from fellow students. Arranging their seating patterns can help eliminate disruptions in the classroom.
Also, students with ADHD need to sit closer to the teacher. Keep their desks away from doors/windows to prevent any disturbances during your lecture. It’ll help them focus on the activities happening in the class.
- Use visual aids:-
Another technique that wasn’t traditional in post-COVID settings anymore involves audio-visual aids during lectures. Using charts, graphs, pictures, and videos will help your students grasp their lessons more effectively.
You can even use computer programs that present visually appealing images for children’s learning. These audio/visual aids can enhance their learning as special students need interactive content to grasp their lessons.
- Welcome your students:-
Don’t forget to offer pupils a sincere greeting when they enter your classroom. These personalized greetings boost a student’s morale and make them willing to interact with you more often. A study has even suggested that greeting students at entrances can increase engagement by 20%.
Also, you can diminish disruptive behaviors by welcoming students into the learning environment. It helps you realize the child’s mood to assess if that student’s mentally prepared for learning.
- Provide different materials
In a special education classroom, children have various levels of learning proficiency. So, it’s crucial to provide different materials so every student can learn at their proper level. It’ll decrease their frustration, boost their confidence, and enable them to understand each lesson.
Since your students suffer from various disabilities, they can’t all learn at the same pace. It would help if you kept the classroom well-stocked with educational resources for children of different ages, abilities, and conditions.
- Group your students:-
It’ll make things simpler if you divide students into several smaller groups. Research shows that small group learning boosts children’s self-esteem, fosters collaboration, and helps them retain information.
Also, this method empowers quieter students to express themselves easily. So, making groups with 2-3 students will give everyone the space they need. Make sure that children are paired with like-minded individuals, i.e., students with the same learning proficiency should be partners.
- Always remain consistent:-
Children with special academic requirements dislike change. So, make sure to follow a pattern and obey a schedule while working with autistic students. Create consistency to keep them engaged and satisfied.
Your lessons should be structured around a timetable which students must follow faithfully. It won’t just help students feel comfortable in the classroom, but even their learning proficiency will increase. By splitting them into smaller groups, you can expect to maintain this consistency.
How many disabled children do we have in American classrooms? A 2020 survey shows that around 14% of students in the USA have mental/physical disabilities. So, nearly 7 million children in the country receive special education. Instructors utilize alternative strategies to teach children with exacting requirements.
As the teacher, you must arrange the classroom properly by eliminating distractions and other triggers. Keep your instructions comprehensible for autistic children and ensure there aren’t any loud noises or bright lights present in their environment.
Also, audio-visual aids can help you explain complex concepts to them quickly. These techniques will help you become an effective special education professional.