How To Teach Students With Disabilities In A General Ed Classroom

10 Ways To Help Students With Disabilities In A General Ed Classroom

How to help students with disabilities while student teaching.


One of the greatest fears that a lot of student teachers have is not being able to effectively help a student. This is a fear even professional teachers can have, especially if they notice a student is struggling in their classroom. This is especially the case with students in the classroom who have a disability. At least once during your student teaching experience, you will encounter a few students who have disabilities, and these students won't always be on medication. And if they are on medication, the medication won't always be effective for helping to manage their symptoms.

I remember during my first student teaching experience I had a student in my classroom who wasn't on medication who had a disability and was struggling greatly on his performance in the classroom. This is the reality for most teachers. However, there are ways that you can effectively teach students with disabilities.

Here are 10 ways to effectively help students who have a disability while student teaching in a general ed classroom.

1. Be patient 



When you have a student with a disability in your classroom, you need to be patient with them. If a student has a learning disability and they forget their homework again, be patient. You must always keep in mind that if the student forgets something, it is not their fault. Take a moment to stop and think of how you can provide accommodations for your student that will help the student succeed. If the student is forgetting their homework assignments, for example, you can suggest the student carries a planner or provide more time for the student to complete the assignment.

2. Work with the special education teachers

Special Ed Teacher

Wikimedia Commons

You should always be open to working closely with the special education teachers in the classroom. In some school districts, they will co-teach with the general education teachers. Therefore, if you are student teaching, you will likely be working with special education teachers. They can be very helpful for providing advice on creating an accommodating curriculum and how to best help a student, and they can give feedback on the lesson plans you make to accommodate the students in your classroom. Therefore, you should be open to working with the teachers and listening to any advice they give you.

3. Keep an organized class schedule


Judy Baxter / Flickr

If you have a student who you know has autism in your classroom, then try to make sure you maintain an organized schedule. Students with autism like to have everything organized and tend to have more anxiety when something unpredictable happens. If you are going to have a substitute teacher, a field trip, or a school event that is coming up, let your students know beforehand so that any students in your classroom who have autism will know what to expect.

4. Give immediate feedback


Ilmicrofono Oggiono / Flickr

Students with disabilities do better if they receive immediate feedback. Students with disabilities need to see what improvements they need to make and where they are at in the classroom. According to TeacherVision, students with learning disabilities need to see the relationship between what is taught and learned in the classroom. Therefore, if it is possible, try to give immediate feedback to any student with a disability.

5. Focus on the student's strengths


Engineering at Cambridge / Flickr

If you want a student who may have a disability to be successful in your classroom, don't underestimate their ability. Just because a student may not be able to handle certain things due to their disability does not mean that they are incapable of accomplishing other things. Try to instead focus on the student's individual strengths. For example, if the student has a hard time working with others but is great at doing individual work, consider focusing on creating more assignments in which the student could do independently. Try to play to the student's strengths.

6. Allow time for breaks during class

Student on tablet


This is helpful for both students with disabilities and students without disabilities! Students with a disability can often feel overwhelmed at times and benefit from being given a short break. Consider giving your students a short break during the day, whether it's a bathroom break or a brain break. It will help make sure your students aren't getting too overwhelmed during class.

7. Help boost your student's confidence


U.S. Department of Agriculture / Flickr

A lot of students with disabilities will often lack confidence. They may be struggling with their individual disability not only in your classroom but in other classrooms too. Help the student build their confidence in the classroom through giving specific praise. Try to also find at least one positive comment that you can make about the student's work.

For example, if they did badly on a math problem but seemed to comprehend how to start the problem tell the student "You did a great job on starting the problem but I think you may need some more help with solving the problem correctly." Starting with a positive statement will help any students with disabilities not feel discouraged and will help the students gain a boost in confidence.

8. Be open to making changes in curriculum


World Bank Photo Collection / Flickr

There will most likely be times when you will need to make changes to your curriculum. If one strategy doesn't work, try another! Part of teaching is trying different things until you find something that works, and this can be applied to all students.

9. Use visual aids



When you are presenting a lesson, you should try to incorporate some visual aids that will help students with disabilities understand your lesson better. This could include charts, computer programs, pictures, and vivid pictures. In mathematics, students with learning disabilities may do better through seeing visual demonstrations or pictures in order to help them understand problems better. Include anything that you think will help students with disabilities understand your lesson better during your presentation.

10. Have students work more with peers

Students Working Together

World Bank Photo Collection / Flickr

Allow your students to work with their peers more during activities or assignments in the classroom. Students with disabilities learn better if they are working with another student rather than independently. It also helps to create a more positive learning environment.

If you find yourself struggling to find the right method for helping your student who has a disability, then you should check out some of these tips. It can be hard to know exactly how to help students with disabilities, especially if you just started your student teaching experience. However, there are ways that you can effectively help any student in your class who has a specific disability. If you follow these strategies, you'll not only help the student in your classroom who has a disability, but you'll also help create a positive learning environment for all of the students in your classroom.

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Why Nursing School Is Different Than Any Other Major

Because most other majors can't kill someone accidentally by adding wrong.

College is hard. Between studying for numerous amounts of tests and balancing eating, working out, maintaining a social life, and somehow not breaking your bank account, it’s no wonder a common conversation among students is “how many mental breakdowns did you have this week?” Every major will pose its own challenges; that’s truth. Nursing school, however, is a special kind of tough that only other nursing majors can understand.

SEE ALSO: Quit Bashing Radford University

Nurses are the backbone and unsung hero of healthcare. Their job is to advocate for the patient, collaborate care among all other healthcare team members, carry out physician orders, recognize and report patient progress (or lack thereof), run interference for the patient with any unwanted visitors, research and validate evidence based practice, all while maintaining a certain aurora of confidence for patients and their loved ones that “everything will be okay” and “I’ve got this under control”. If that sounds like a lot; that’s because it is. The majority of skills that we learn that make good nurses cannot actually be taught in theory classes. It’s the hours of actual practice and a certain knack for caring for people- all people- that makes a good nurse great. The countless, unrelenting hours that are spent on the floor in clinical humble us, we know that we’re not great yet, but we’re trying.

Our professors expect us to be humble as well. Nurses do not seek gold stars for their actions, instead the precedence that is set for us to that we “do the right thing because it is the right thing to do”. Most nursing programs grading scales are different. To us, a failing grade isn’t actually getting a 69 or lower, it’s an 80. And that makes sense; no one would want a nurse who only understand 70% of what is happening in the body. We have to understand the normal body response, what happens when things go wrong, why it happens the way it does, and how to properly intervene. We want to learn, it interests us, and we know that the long theory classes and the hard days on the floor are just to make us better. However, any triumph, anytime you do well, whatever small victory that may feel like for you, it just what is supposed to happen- it’s what is expected, and we still have much to learn.

I look back on my decision to take on nursing school, and I often find myself questioning: why? There are so many other majors out there that offer job security, or that help people, or would challenge me just as much. But, when I think of being a nurse- it’s what fulfills me. There’s something that the title holds that makes me feel complete (and that same fact is going to resonate with anyone who wants to love their job). I wouldn’t change the decision I made for anything, I love what I am learning to do and I feel that it’s part of what makes me who I am. The other students who I have met through nursing school are some of the most amazing people I have ever come into contact with, and the professors have helped me understand so much more about myself than I thought possible.

Nursing is treating and understanding the human response. Meaning that it’s not just the disease process, or the action of the medication, or the care that we provide, but that nurses treat the way in which people deal, react, feel, and cope with good news, bad news, terrible procedures, hospital stays and being completely dependent on other people. And the fact of the matter is that all people are different. There is no one magic treatment that will always work for every patient. In addition to course work, the clinical hours, the passion and drive to want to be a nurse, and the difficulty that comes with any medical profession, we have to understand each individual patient, as people and not their illness. And, in order to do that so much self discovery goes on each day to recognize where you are and how you are coping with everything coming your way.

What is taught in nursing school goes far beyond just textbook information or step by step procedures. We have to learn, and quickly, how to help and connect with people on a level which most struggle to accomplish in a lifetime. It's a different kind of instruction, and it either takes place quickly or not at all. The quality of nurse you become depends on it. Nursing school is different, not harder or better than any other school, just different.

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Trying to figure out what to do in life.


I never saw the crossroad

Where I could cross n' roam

Under an arch or dome. [1]

I just kept on the road

That was laid out,

Told to hold out

Till it pays out. [2]

Now I think its too late

Been walking too long,

Classes are all wrong

But masses too strong. [3]

So I follow with my head down

And chest up, succeeding cause

I'm too scared to fuck it up. [4]

But I have a need to lead,

Top-down and gears up

Leaving nothing to the dust.

But if I drop out, I'm a fuck up. [5]

Is it better to live and rust

Or drive till it busts

With trust you can find the way? [6]

[1] - Play on roam/Rome. Starts the poem by expressing the feeling of being trapped in my path in life. I felt like I never got the chance to figure out what I wanted to do.

[2] - I think a lot of it was I was following what people told me I should be doing.

[3] - I have a feeling that it is too late to change my course of life. I'm in a college for business, taking classes about business, and everyone around me wants to do business.

[4] - This is saying that even though I am not passionate about what I am doing I am still trying to succeed only because I'm scared of failing or quitting.

[5] - I want to leave and lead myself, do something where I'm not following but I don't know how to do that. This part starts a car reference, idk I've been watching Formula 1 on Netflix and its dope.

[6] - This is the question I've been asking myself, wondering if I should continue on with my path or follow my passion.

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