Teaching Students with Diverse Needs
It is important that you face each class and situation with a positive attitude and make no distinctions between students with disabilities and the rest of the class. If you single out any of the students, your actions may result in prejudice and bad feelings among your students. Remember that you set the tone in your classroom, so teach by example.
Problems with Other Students
Despite your best efforts, you may face some problems with non-disabled students. Students can be cruel to each other, so it is important that you keep a constant handle on the situation in the classroom. All students need to feel that you welcome them to your room.
You might have a disabled student in your class with a problem that is very obvious to all students. For example, you might have a student with cerebral palsy who does not have the use of his arms or legs and who is confined to a wheelchair. It can be difficult to balance the needs of one person with the needs of many, but you need to work hard to accommodate all the students in your classroom.
If you feel that a situation is getting out of hand, don't be afraid to ask for help. Sometimes the non-disabled students in your class might need extra counseling to help them relate to the disabled student.
What are accommodations and modifications?
An alteration in the way you teach your students is an accommodation. A modification, on the other hand, is a change in the expectations of what students are supposed to learn in a class.
All students are equal, but they are not the same. Each student's situation is different. You need to use the IEP as your guide because it is a legal document to which you will be held accountable. If you need help understanding or completing an accommodation, do not be afraid to turn to your special education department. The important thing is that you do your best and document your efforts.
Some common accommodations you will be faced with might include the following:
Providing written copies of notes
Providing extra time on assignments and tests
Reading worksheets and test questions aloud
Placing the student in preferential seating
Allowing tape recordings of classroom information
Allowing students to type their work
Using modified standards for grades
Sending home frequent progress reports
Obviously, you will need help with some of these accommodations. If you are giving students an exam and one student needs the test questions read out to her, you will require assistance from teachers in the special education department. Therefore, you need to work closely with them to make sure that all parts of the IEP are met.