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Preparing your Classroom for Students with Special Needs

written by: Barbara • edited by: Amanda Grove • updated: 7/12/2012

Teachers must implement a diversity of classroom management strategies to insure that the classroom provides a least restrictive learning environment with specified accommodations for special education students. From IEPs to curriculum modifications, teachers must be ready to start on day one.

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    Classroom Management Tips

    The juggling to provide an inclusionary classroom learning environment for special education students begins the summer before school starts in the fall. Below are specific classroom management tips that will make day one sail smoothly into week one, month one and year one with careful implementation and follow through.

    • The IEPs (Individualized Education Plans): The teacher should make sure to read the classroom roster with category designations of eligibility levels (1-3) for their mainstreamed special education prodigies. The IEPs will provide diagnostic assessments in reading, writing and math testing to show where students are academically and designate learning goals and outcomes during the school year. The IEPs will also include behavioral goals if needed, assistive technology if required and related services such as a speech pathologist or physical therapist if needed to provide necessary accommodations for students with disabilities that may include cognitive issues in learning processing, physical impairments, and hearing and visual needs.
    • The Curriculum: In a 9th grade Algebra 1 math class, the teacher may have books that will work for the majority of the students in the classroom, but for a special education student whose IEP testing shows a 5th grade basic math skill level, there should be accommodations to help the student work towards the defined math goals in his/her IEP.
    • Classroom Management Plan: All students want to know what are the expectations in the classroom. Whether those expectations are posted in a management plan or given to students individually to post in the inside of notebooks, the teacher must present a consistent plan with rules and consequences that each student will have to adhere to on a daily basis.
    • Low, Medium or High Approach to Discipline: When a teacher goes into the classroom for the first time, he or she must have an approach defining their model of discipline. If low approach is used to provide minimal teacher discipline intervention versus a high approach that provides maximum redirection and control, there must be implementation of discipline approaches evident in the classroom. A selection of a medium approach doesn't mean that the teacher can't decide on a discipline method, so it's important to research the approaches and decide what works best for your students and their learning environment.
    • The Students: There is no classroom or school community without the students. The students are the most integral treasures of a learning community. Capturing the learning needs of society's most vulnerable students is indeed the best job in the world for teachers prepared to provide the best managed learning environment for the best students.