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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Advice for New Teachers

Today is Teacher Talk Tuesday and we are sharing advice for new teachers.   I thought I would gear my advice to what to do if you have a special needs child in your class.  I'm not talking about the child with the invisible disability such as a learning disability, I'm talking about the child with severe disabilities.   In today's classrooms, many children with severe disabilities are being integrated into regular classrooms.  What do you do if you have a child like this in your class?  What do you do with a wheelchair, stander, communication device?

1. Treat the child just like any other child in your class.  That means the same expectations as everyone else (unless there is something like a behaviour plan in place).  If everyone is expected to line up, sit quietly, read, do math, etc, then your child with special needs should have the same expectation.  Nothing makes a child stand out more than doing something completely different than their peers. Integration does not mean just sitting in the same physical space as your peers. This does not mean that you have the same expectations academically but for example if everyone is completing math work then the child with special needs should be completing their math at the same time, even if it's below grade level.

2. Arrange your class so that the child can get around easily and has access to all areas of the class.

3. Talk to the class about the child's disability (with or without the child, depending on the child).  If the child is able and willing, have them explain things to their peers (only if the child is mature enough to do this).  See if your local community has a disability awareness program and invite them to come in and talk to the class.

4. If your child has a paraprofessional, make sure to strike up a good working relationship with them.  They can be your best friend.  Work together and set up schedules to work in equipment.  Make sure the person is "assisting" and not "doing".

5. Give the child "time" if they need it.  Time to respond, time to complete work, time to get from one place to another.

6. Try and pair the child up with a friend. 

7. Make sure that the child does EVERYTHING that everyone else does.  In my class, no one is left out.  Check out my post on McHappy Day.  When the class ate McDonald's, everyone did, even my students that needed pureed food.  You can find creative ways to do anything.  If one child can't do the activity then think of something else to do.

8. Make sure you have good communication with the parents.  Set realistic goals for the year.  It's better to set small goals that are obtainable then larger ones that are not going to be met in one year.

9. Know your child's equipment and make sure it's used.  Standers, walkers, wheelchairs and communication devices have all been put into place for a reason.  A child can't be in one position all day.  Make sure they can get out and stretch.

10.  Remember:  A child with a disability is still a child.  Make sure you have fun.

If anyone ever has questions or needs help problem solving an issue, I'm more than happy to help.  Just leave a comment and your email and I'll try to help.

Head over to Blog Hoppin' for more great advice.


LeeanneA said...

Good advice - just one thing - it's great to hook the child with a disability up with a 'friend' - but it may be a good thing to have 'class buddies' who take turns being the buddy to the child in need and then let the children form their own 'friendships' as children will.

Cortney said...

I agree. We have a mentor system so that older kids from the others partner schools come over and help and befriend our students. The mentors even sometimes gets hired as paraprofesionals when they graduate because they work so well with the kids.

School Sparks Renee said...

Great advice - especially pairing the child up with a friend. Have a designated friend in the classroom will help minimize anxiety and will give the child someone to turn to with questions so he/she doesn't feel so long.

Anonymous said...

These are all great suggestions. As a Special Education teacher myself, I use several of these strategies when I teach inclusive settings. :-)

dbednars said...

Excellent advice everyone!

Midwayedancer said...

Great advice, especially number 3. If you are Frank and matter of fact ("Michael makes that noise because he is excited and that's how he is letting us know") usually the kids will immediately accept it and move on. Letting them know it's okay to approach you with questions builds a more inclusive classroom culture.

Anonymous said...

This is a great list! I've been thinking and learning a lot lately about giving kids time to answer. this definitely takes patience but it's so necessary! I found you on Blog Hoppin'. Looking forward to reading more! Good luck with the start of the school year :)