Students with disabilities require significantly different educational practices, and applying these unique conditions can be challenging for a teacher. Individual approaches, constant attention, and empathy are essential in studying for such learners regardless of their disability type. Multiple strategies exist to make education for inclusive students more effective as well as assist teachers with delivering knowledge. They include classroom environment management, curriculum organizing methods, and ways of keeping students engaged throughout the whole learning process. This paper aims to reflect on strategies and teaching methods used in classrooms for students with special needs.
The primary approach to teaching students with disabilities is to build the most individualized learning scheme possible. The strategy of creating an Individualized Education Program (IEP) is broadly used among teachers and provides clear and reachable goals for students. Bailey and Weingarten state that “developing appropriate IEP goals is an essential step to enable students with disabilities to make appropriate progress in light of their circumstances” (8). To construct an optimal IEP for a student with disabilities, a teacher must consider factors such as learning time frame, the student’s assessment conditions, timelines for tasks, target behavior, and the necessity of support. It is also essential to include the measurements of progress and track it with an available frequency. In a classroom, students with similar IEP goals can share their activities, if appropriate.
The curriculum based on teaching students with special needs must be modified and consider the IEPs of learners. The structure of subjects must be student needs-oriented and flexible. Teachers’ strategy to work on such a curriculum is to adopt the program to behavioral characteristics of the students. They are necessary to be considered to increase learners’ engagement, educate them to collaborate with their classmates, and to provide them with the new knowledge effectively. For example, a thematic curriculum may include a variety of projects given to different students according to their strongest qualities. Each learner will understand the topic in the most appropriate way, and the classroom environment will be more engaging.
Carefully chosen and applied teaching methods can significantly improve the effectiveness of education for students with disabilities. The instructional strategies are a considerable part of teaching; therefore, special attention has to be taken when practicing them. Students with special needs require direct instructions, the appliance of which pragmatically organizes a classroom’s time and space. Such instructions are sequenced, strictly curated by a teacher, and usually include basic types of educating such as lecturing, demonstrating, and group project making. Direct instruction methods are based on a teacher’s willingness to deliver the most knowledge possible within the classroom limits.
The other teaching method of giving instructions is to combine the general education plan with individualized assistance to the students who require it. A teacher should have the evaluation system for each subject, and when some students go below the average, giving them some new direct instructions is helpful. They can have differentiated assignments or particular kinds of assessments. Teachers can also provide the basics of subjects to the whole class, and then divide the classroom to give a closer look at the aspects of what was learned.
The strategy of instructions’ differentiation applies to students with disabilities. A particular direction can be differentiated in four ways: flexible grouping appliance, setting for multiple time limits for students, specialized staff usage, or instruction modification for particular needs (Bryant et al. 189). Using flexible grouping, classmates can be divided the way when one assists with skills that are weakly developed in another. Time limits can be set differently, considering the abilities of students or groups. Specialized staff is related to the language and vocabulary teachers use to explain tasks, and it can be given in multiple ways for better understanding. The instructions might need to be modified by expanding the variety of tasks or changing the classroom’s settings. The crucial factor to consider while working on an educational strategy for students with disabilities is flexibility. The plan will be useful if it includes the IEP goals of students, and is capable of being updated if necessary.
The progress of students with disabilities must continuously be tracked to evaluate the efficiency of educational approaches chosen for them. A teacher needs to seek the feedback from the learners to figure out weak points and advantages of strategies. The method to get this information convenient for students with special needs is to give them feedback first. A teacher who provides learners with immediate feedback helps them construct better connections between what was taught and what they learned. Moreover, it builds trust and leads students to give honest feedback and share their experiences with a teacher.
Teachers involved in education for people with disabilities need to continuously seek new information from scientific and medical researches to improve their strategies to work with such students. With more teaching practice scope, educators can determine behavioral patterns and the essential needs of students with particular disabilities. These aspects, combined with a teacher’s willingness to deliver knowledge at a high level, are crucial in making education effective and convenient for all students.
Bailey, Tessie Rose, and Zachary Weingarten. “Strategies for Setting High-Quality Academic Individualized Education Program Goals.” National Center on Intensive Intervention, 2019. Web.
Bryant, Diane, et al. Teaching Students with Special Needs in Inclusive Classrooms. Sage Publications, 2019.