It can be challenging to create a welcoming and inclusive environment for students of all abilities in a shared classroom. It’s important to keep in mind that the unique needs of each student should be carefully considered and addressed. With some planning, your classroom will be ready for all your students.
Ensure that your classroom is accessible to all students by developing a strategic plan for incorporating accommodations and adaptations into your instructional routine. Here are some strategies to get you started.
Students with special needs can be included in the classroom through a variety of methods. First, you should make sure your classroom is physically set up to accommodate the student. If you have a wheelchair-bound student, you should make sure their desk or work space is easily accessible and that they can move around the room easily. You may need to designate an area in your classroom for that student to store items like coats and book bags if they are stored on hooks or in cubbies. For students who are blind or have low vision, you may need to provide materials in Braille or large print.
When planning instruction and activities, think about how to include students with special needs in activities alongside their peers. For example, a student with autism may not speak verbally but could participate by pointing at pictures or choosing between two options. Students who use wheelchairs may be able to participate in physical activities by rolling around the room or pushing themselves from one activity station to another. However, consider whether those activities might be more appropriate during recess time rather than academic time.
In order for all students to be successful, communication is key. Make sure you communicate regularly with the parents of students with special needs to understand their individual needs and preferences for inclusion and support.
Including students with special needs in the classroom can present a challenge to teachers, but it is also an opportunity to learn and grow. When a teacher and her students can overcome the challenges of including a student with special needs, everyone learns important lessons about perseverance, empathy, and friendship.
Special-needs children often require extra assistance when performing tasks that come easily to other students. For example, if a student requires assistance writing due to physical limitations, she should be provided with whatever tools she needs to accomplish this task. Her classmates may take for granted the easy way they are able to write and express themselves on paper, but when they see the time and effort their classmate puts into this task, they will learn that it is something worth appreciating.
Other students may find it difficult to understand how their handicapped classmate thinks or acts. Instead of ignoring or teasing the child because he is different, it’s important for teachers to educate their other students about the unique qualities of their classmate’s mind and personality so that each student can relate to him as an individual instead of being afraid of his perceived “strangeness.”
If a student has a physical disability, give them tasks that accommodate it, such as letting them use their hand if they can’t use their feet. If a student has a learning disability, give them extra time to complete their work or help them learn alongside the rest of the class. If a student is vision-impaired or hearing-impaired, give them large print versions or record your lessons for them. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from administration if you need it – we’re all here for you and your students.