Students with Exceptionalities

Read these tips on how to incorporate exceptional students into your classroom, a very important matter for teachers to consider. New teachers will find this resource particularly valuable.
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Updated on: February 1, 2007
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Tips For Working With Exceptionalities

Expert Opinon

Students (and even some teachers) may view the extra attention special needs students receive as unfair. However, according to long-time special education teacher Deb Watkins, “Fairness isn't about treating everyone the same; it's giving everyone what they need.”

It is quite likely that you will have a diversity of students in your classroom—representing a variety of talents and abilities. With this in mind, I suggest some generalized strategies for you to consider as you work with all special needs students:

  • Be aware that special needs students may not want to be singled out for any special treatment. To do so may identify their disability for other students and cause them to receive some form of attention they may not be able to handle.

  • Ensure that your attitude and responses to special needs students are identical to those to other students. View all students as contributing students.

  • Consider learning over a long period of time. Special needs students may require extended periods of time to master a concept or learn a specific skill. You may need to repeat information several times and reinforce it in many ways.

  • It is quite easy to fall into the trap of focusing on the weaknesses of special needs students. Yet it is vitally important that you be aware of and seek to identify the individual strengths of each and every student in your classroom.

  • Help students understand that grading, evaluation, and assessment is based on identifiable objectives in accordance with individual potential. Evaluation should not be coupled with the limitations of students but rather to their expectations.

  • Provide significant opportunities for students of all abilities to learn from each other. Structure a variety of learning activities in which the social climate of the classroom is both promoted and enhanced. It is important that everyone feels like he or she is contributing.

  • Do not make inappropriate assumptions based on students' exceptionalities. For example, don't assume that a student who is confined to a wheelchair is an unhappy child. Don't assume that a learning disabled student is not gifted in the visual arts. Also, don't assume that children with disabilities are disabled in all areas.

Excerpted from

The Complete Idiot's Guide to Success as a Teacher
Anthony D. Fredericks, Ed.D.

Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Success as a Teacher © 2005 by Anthony D. Fredericks. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit Amazon's web site or call 1-800-253-6476.
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