A Special Education Needs teacher typically works with students who have behavioural problems, learning difficulties and lack of physical and sensory abilities. Special Education Needs teachers specialise in areas such as:
- behavioural disorders
- visual or hearing impairments
- mental and physical disabilities
- learning difficulties
Our teachers believe differentiation (especially for Special Needs Students) is incredibly important. The National Curriculum is fast-paced and can be challenging for any child, especially true for children with language and learning issues.
This is where differentiation is needed; we know that Special needs students benefit greatly from having the information presented at a slower pace, fewer time constraints, and repetitive visual stimuli.
Differentiation is essentially the modification of a subject or environment that helps a child’s ability to retain information. For example, the intentional placement of a student at the front of class or a visual, more image-focused approach to lesson presentation. Differentiation isn’t always 1:1 sessions or the removal of the child from a mainstream class.
In the past, there was an expectation that all children should achieve the same level if put in the same classroom. We now know some children require target based support and a greater level of differentiation.
The same can be said for children exceeding expectations. Differentiation is needed to keep them appropriately stretched and challenged.
At Cassidy Education, we have had the privilege of working with some fantastic teachers over the years, and we asked them to share with us some tips for differentiation. Below are their suggestions:
Special needs students can often read and write well but often (depending on their strengths) show a deeper retention of knowledge with say a poster design, drawings or performance.
When testing students there are ways to demonstrate mastery by means other than multiple choice. Rubrics can create great assessment tools, so can a portfolio, or allowing them to answer questions orally.
Educational software programs, like speaking word processors and voice recognition, can help improve spelling, reading, writing, note taking and testing.
Be More Visual
Images and symbols can help with reading; special needs students find flash cards and pictures easier to understand.
Students with special needs often learn more when working with academically-capable students. Collaboration is a skill that provides a clear idea of their role, helps to focus and an equal chance to speak and contribute.
Working together exposes them to a variety of peer learning strategies, a small group setting with support.
Taking notes, asking questions, planning, and time-management often have to be a learned behaviour, requiring the explanation of step by step procedures.
Use Levelled Readers
Providing students with reading disabilities with the differentiated reading material will allow a student to study the same topic as the rest of the class.
Use a Peer Helper
This is beneficial as the special needs student receives one-on-one support and assistance with study tools, assignments and teamwork activities.