There are a surprising number of ways to organize classroom space, furniture, activities, schedule, and behavioral expectations to generate classroom success.
Facilities and Furniture to Facilitate Fantastic Feelings
It is helpful to place areas of special service as close to the mainstream area as possible, yet with a wall or alcove area to allow for structuring of the space and to head off distractibility. Attention can also be given to traffic patterns, encouraging fluid modes of team teaching, and safety.
All children, including special children, benefit from a wide diversity of multi-sensory learning methods as well as visual and auditory perceptual training devices and materials. Training the learning modalities is vital for enabling them to have an education. Educators can regularly update their skills and knowledge in these and other areas.
The Magic of a Corner – It is well worth setting up a corner or wall arrangement to prevent distraction as well as hyperactivity. In this way remediation techniques are successful yet also within appropriate levels of inclusion.
Positioning Learning to See and Learn About Normality – It is interesting to note that certain students who have many issues in a setting they perceive to indicate a problem, a closed area away from the mainstream, will tend to emulate the more normal behavior when closer to the regular class. The closer interaction with peers can act as a positive socializer.
Breaking the Myth Surrounding Special Education – A helpful side effect of inclusion is a chance for surrounding staff and students to see that the techniques used by special educators are not really so different from regular education methods. Some of the same ideas work well for all students, no matter their specific learning profiles. When mainstream and special educators work as a team, modeling of good practices moves in both directions. This has more value than a dozen pieces of advice.
Furniture as a Behavior Modifier – Furniture can be organized in such a way as to help with hyperactivity, distractibility, and a host of other challenges. One of the first things to do when confronted with such problems is to get some graph paper or a computer design program and play around with alternative room arrangements.
Other Ways to Help Children Who Learn Differently
Testing as a Tool – If we were to take our tools and file them like we do tests and label them–saying this is what is needed, then just file them you’d wonder about our sanity! Yet sometimes this is done with testing. Testing either should be vitally connected to prescriptive teaching or we shouldn’t spend the money and time on it.
Grading as a Reinforcer -No doubt a part of the real world is being evaluated so teachers would do well to desensitize students to it. It is worth taking the time to help children set goals, take pride in accomplishments, and use grades for prescriptive growth.
Ways to Avoid Separatism – Socializing for success in the real world even involves inclusion during fire drills. When the mainstream studies rocks, space, etc. special teachers can do the same. This is a way to be inclusive by being a part of the in-thing topic and the general mood of rocks, space, etc.
Methods for Supportive Teaching – Bulletin Boards and Learning Centers can support what is being taught in the mainstream while teaching specific skills in the basic subjects. Oral Testing can be useful when reading skills prevent a child from showing knowledge of concepts in subjects like Social Studies and Science. It is crucial to balance this by providing supplemental reading instruction, which can be in the content areas as well as in the student’s areas of special interest.
Consider the children and their need to manipulate.
Perhaps we unwittingly assign them a poor fate.
We tell poor achievers to study like beavers.
They sometimes must think we’re the world’s great deceivers!
So acutely do they need active learning play
That perhaps to omit it means in the long run we’ll get it.
For only active involvement leads to their problems’ resolvement.
Millions of things to do! If studying the desert bring clothes of varying types and role play what to wear and why. If learning about globes get a markable globe and take trips like mad. There is no concept for which some manipulative activity can’t be dreamed up which would help with the learning and motivation as well as confidence.
If a child asks how many days till Easter, hand over the calendar and ask leading questions but let him or her have the think-joy. If you’re studying money, write a letter home telling how well he’s been doing and ask the family to let him be in on the shopping, grocery, auto parts, and even hardware. Encourage kids who need coordination to pick up the specks on the floor and learn to crack eggs. Better yet, tell them to crack the eggs, bake a cake or cookies (whose recipe you happened to have in math or reading) and share it with others while telling all about it. Learning rushes on!
Transition into the Mainstream – When students are ready for mainstream in a particular subject don’t just throw them in. Do preplanning about content and material to be used, focusing on methods which may facilitate success for this particular student. Be aware that each child may function at slightly different levels. Supportive teaching is not getting them all on the same level!
Office Work – A number of students function well in ‘office’ setups where a child has a cloistered desk with reduced distractions to use for performance of work requiring concentration. Such offices can also be used as centers where a child may go to a computer to type spelling words or even write a story. Word recognition software is helpful for learning to get one’s thoughts down in print. It is worth obtaining keyboard stickers with enlarged letters to help in typing. Low vision thrive on these but so do others students since they allow for quicker visual processing.
Flexibility – must be mentioned in dealing with students, other professionals, and the community as well. Adjustments will be made to groupings as well as behavior management. Iron bound rules can present a problem for some students. Even as instruction needs to be individualized, so also should we grant others the human elements found in individualizing.
Classrooms can be structured in ways to reinforce learning while increasing functionality. School staff can organize furniture, flexibility, and fun to create an environment which facilitates the success of all students.
Copyright by Hildra Tague. Obtain permission for use online or in print.