Students With Special Needs
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Beginning Educator Support Team

Working with Students with Special Needs

Students With Special Needs:

  • Students with special needs often require shorter learning assignments and frequently demonstrate a need to be positively reinforced within short periods of time. Depending upon the age of the students, the nature of the learning disability, and the student's behavioral progress, positive teacher reinforcement may be required every five to ten minutes or less.
  • Students with special needs (depending on the nature of the disability) often require more frequent learning assistance from the teacher. The teacher's instructions need to be simple, precise and clear when working with these students. It is advisable to have students repeat the instructions frequently, so the teacher can monitor the student's level of understanding.
  • Many students with special needs have been subject to negative and physical events in their personal lives. As a result, some students may react with violent outbursts when touched, threatened, or interacted with in a negative manner. Students with special needs normally need to have positive behaviors strengthened rather than negative behaviors weakened. "Time-out" areas, and positive recognition are useful classroom management tools when working with this student population.
  • Students with special needs (depending upon the nature of the disability) may need to frequently have the learning and behavior expectations revisited. Teachers can best achieve clarification of expectations by utilizing role-playing, by clearly and precisely explaining what is expected of the students in different learning environments, by having students frequently repeat what is expected of them, and by consistent recognition of students who make correct learning and behavioral choices.

Modifying the Classroom Environment

  • Changes in standards
  • Changes in specific instructional methods
  • Change tasks and assignments
  • Increase specific child involvement
  • Alter general classroom structure
  • Alter types of acceptable responses
  • Use specific consequences
  • Use outside support
  • Develop behavioral contracts
  • Dispense rewards


Old Capitol Building, PO Box 47200, 600 Washington St. S.E., Olympia, WA  98504-7200  (360) 725-6000  TTY (360) 664-3631
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