Do your classroom policies promote inclusion for all students?
Monday, March 21, 2016
Every educator has a different approach to disciplining and motivating students, but not all approaches are successful for every student. For students with learning disabilities, ADHD or Asperger's syndrome, discipline and motivation can be even trickier. You need to be prepared to handle these students while also maintaining a learning environment.
Did you know Richard Branson, Justin Timberlake and Michael Phelps have all been diagnosed with ADHD? According to ADDitude, these celebrities — and many more — are diagnosed with the disability and are not afraid to let the world know.
When dealing with students with learning disabilities, it could be beneficial to let them know these high-profile, influential people also have the disability. It help them relate and be more open about their disability instead of hiding it.
Students who want to hide their disability will not get the attention needed to succeed. A student who is open to help and attention has the ability to get past the disability.
For students with LD, you as their educator and mentor also need to be open about the disability. Don't shy away from the topic, don't act like it's a secret (don’t scream it from the rooftops either). If you act like it's something to be ashamed of, so will the student.
The first step toward helping the students succeed is getting them to be OK with their disability. However, when teaching this concept, the teacher first needs to discuss it with parents of students in the class. Some parents do not like to use the word "disability" and instead use the term "learning difference."
In other words, it would be a good idea for teachers to present this concept to parents of students in the class before putting it in practice with the students. That would also help to get the parents on board in support of the concept.
Here are some tips for disciplining, motivating and managing a diverse classroom:
Disciplining students with LD
Instant punishments: Some students with LD cannot correlate a past discipline problem with a punishment set for the future. For example, if a student breaks a rule in the morning, you cannot punish him with a consequence during the afternoon. You must immediately take action.
Time off recess: Recess is a time for students to release energy, refresh their brain and interact with their peers. However, many teachers use this as a form of discipline. Punishing students during this time limits their ability to regain their focus to continue through the rest of the day. The only time to punish students during recess is if they break a rule during that time.
Use positive language: Negative language can cause a student with LD to shut down emotionally and mentally, according to Lacie Morgan, a former personal care assistant in Texas public schools. Take the "negative" message and turn it around so you are using positive language. For example, instead of saying what the child is doing wrong, tell the student how great it was when she handled the same type of situation a better way.
Outbursts can be positive: Students with LD cannot always control their emotions. It's not OK to constantly interrupt the class, but sometimes these students need to release their emotions — stopping them will only make it worse. Allow the student to regroup either in the hallway, another classroom or in a designated space within the classroom — using your judgement on the severity of the situation.
Motivating students with LD
Rewards as motivation: Rewards are a great way to motivate students, but you have to choose rewards carefully. However, you do not want to teach the students to work solely for the physical reward. Create a reward system that is unique for each student based on his/her motivation factors. It doesn't always have to be a treasure chest reward. Think outside the box.
Write down goals: One of the best ways to motivate your students — and teach them to motivate themselves — is through goal setting. Writing goals, instead of just verbally stating them, increases their odds of completing the goal.
Molding students with LD
Get rid of the pen and paper: Have them jump up and down while you go through spelling words. Create a cheer to go over math facts. Create a game to learn the state capitals.
Play music: Music — for all students — has the ability to improve test scores, decrease learning time and much more, according to Dr. Tali Shenfield on KidsGoals.com.
Take breaks: Once you have a daily lesson plan outlined, stop and place a small break between each lesson — anywhere from 5-15 minutes. Provide activities for the students to do during these breaks. "Puzzles worked best for me because it gave them a short-term goal to reach, which helped them stay focused a little longer," according to Morgan.
Allow students to fidget: Students with LD can significantly benefit from fidgeting while learning. Whether you have a fidget basket or a standing desk, giving your student a physical release during class increases a child's focus and improves behavior.
Involve students in classroom management: Allow students to be involved in determining rules that create a classroom environment that is suitable to both students and teacher. Giving students this opportunity creates an open relationship within the classroom.
Creating a learning environment that is both structured and motivating for every student can be challenging. By using the tips above, you can develop a learning environment that is inclusive for all students and doesn't alienate those with LD. While the tips above are designed for students with LD, they can be beneficial to all students.
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