Making sure all of our children are learning and achieving to their full potential is possible. Teachers can have a more inclusive classroom by making just a few changes in classroom arrangement, policies or teaching methods at any time during the school year. Taking a few minutes to consider the physical, cognitive, and functional needs of our incoming students will help those students with and without special needs to succeed academically and socially.
You will be surprised how much of a difference is made in your classroom environment is made by making a couple of changes in how you run your classroom. Teachers can create supportive settings for students by arranging their classrooms to accommodate each new student as much as possible. One accommodation might be to arrange seats in a way that allows students with atypical hearing or vision to sit at the front of the room so they can receive the same instruction as their typically developing peers (keep in mind that behavior problems increase when students don’t feel engaged and lessening these issues is always a good teaching goal). It’s also helpful to give these students directions in both verbal and written form or to allow them to stand near the board and copy notes.
Flexibility is they key to a better day in the classroom. In another example, a teacher who is expecting a newly enrolled student who uses a wheelchair might ensure that all walking paths are wide and clear at all times while enforcing a class-wide policy to keep the floor clear will help accomplish this while creating a more effective and focused learning environment for all students. You may also choose to implement some assistive technology for your students. Understood gives you in depth information about the use of assistive technology in the classroom.
There are so many other ideas and arrangements you can implement in your classroom. By taking some time to evaluate the needs of each of your students and make some changes, you will be saving yourself from countless headaches -from kids and adults- and helping your students learn, which is what our vocation is all about. Take a breath, take care of one issue at a time and take a look at Education Week’s resources for effective teaching. Happy teaching!