It can be difficult for teachers to manage student behaviour in their lessons, never mind those who teach in an inclusive classroom. Those teachers face the even greater challenge of balancing the needs of SEN students alongside non-SEN classmates.

The increasing popularity of inclusive classes makes behaviour management techniques essential to help keep all students on track. Misbehaviour ranges from persistent interruptions to lessons, lateness or not following classroom rules. To understand better the needs of students we first need to try to find the cause of the misbehaviour.

The following reasons are typically why some students misbehave:

  • Boredom
  • Disrespect for authority
  • Peer Pressure
  • Physical disabilities and learning impairments.

SEN students are more likely to become angry or frustrated and have emotional outbursts.

How to deter misbehaviour?

One common theme came through when we asked our teachers this question, they almost always say “set high expectations”. They explain that SEN students often lack self-esteem and are used to having low expectations set for them. So, by creating and bolstering high positive expectations for your SEN students, they will thrive. You will also set the bar higher for the other students, as all students want and strive for success. You’ll be surprised at what can be achieved with students when you set high expectations for class performance and general behaviour.

We asked our teachers to share some techniques for teachers to consider when teaching SEN students together with students without disabilities:

Lead By Example

Learn their names: This is important to all children and those who quickly remember students’ names will endear themselves quickly to their students.

Make yourself available: Teachers that appear more approachable, on hand to answer questions and eager to assist will help SEN students gain confidence. By being warm and friendly, you will help alleviate any anxiety and reduce their fear of failure.

Be Fair: SEN Students often are easily angered or slide into a depressed state if they feel they’re being mistreated. By treating students equally, SEN students are much less likely to misbehave.

Earn their respect: All Students including SEN are less likely to misbehave when a teacher demonstrates authority. Make sure you are on time, prepared, and researched.

Be motivated: Captivate your audience, they want to learn and crave knowledge, stability, consistency and organisation. Your lessons may be the only place they can find structure and stability.

Get Organised

You are more likely to succeed with behavioural management in your classroom if you prepare correctly for all the predictable details. It is proven that students are less likely to misbehave in well-organised classrooms. Daily routines like registration, lunch time and end-of-day dismissals, are essential in establishing consistency.

Set Rules: Rules are necessary if you wish to keep students on track as well as hold them responsible. During the first few weeks of the school year, you will need to establish the rules and display them. Remember to review them regularly and to encourage students to memorise the rules.

Write in a journal: The best teachers seem always to keep a journal of daily activities. Recording any details of difficulties a particular student had a task. A journal is also useful in the event you are challenged in any way by a student or parent and essential to follow an Individualised Education Plan (IEP).

Be consistent: Creating a consistent environment is vital for special needs students, as they can become confused with frequent changes in routines. SEN students tend to do much better in a structured environment. When a breakdown in routine happens, make sure to warn students of changes in advance, you are less likely to encounter behaviour issues with your SEN students if you do.

In the classroom

Rearrange furniture: SEN students are less likely to misbehave with someone they trust sat next to them. Try to seat students with special needs next to students without disabilities, adjusting seating throughout the first term as necessary.

Ability groups: Differentiation in a classroom often requires placing students in groups to allow for the various learning levels. For SEN students this can often leave them feeling excluded. Try to alleviate this by pairing special needs student with a ‘buddy’ who can help them with projects, studying and fitting in.

Lastly, special education students are more likely participate if there is a primary goal of the classroom. SEN students are less likely to misbehave if they know what is expected of them.

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