Any classroom can become unruly when children are bored or upset. Teachers need to know how to minimize disruption and ensure their students are focused on their learning. Special needs education may be more likely to experience disruption, so management strategies must be tailored to the specific and sometimes complex needs of the students.
Classroom management techniques in special needs education:
- Quiet areas
It may help to have a space set aside where distressed children can go, somewhere separate from the noise and bustle of the regular classroom. This allows the child an opportunity to recover and self-regulate without disrupting other students. Soft lighting, comfortable cushions, and objects to provide sensory stimulation can all help create a safe and reassuring area until they feel able to return.
Lighting is an important consideration more generally. Children with visual impairments may benefit from brighter lights, whilst some children with autism or who have other sensory issues may need the lights dimming to prevent overstimulation. What works best will depend on your students, each of whom will have their requirements, so just ensuring the lights can be easily adjusted may help.
The level of noise that pupils can tolerate may vary. Some students with special needs may find any sound distracting. Others may find gentle ambient music or white noise soothing. Some children are naturally loud and expressive, others may be softer spoken or non-verbal. You need to be able to balance competing access needs, perhaps by setting aside specific times or areas for noise-making.
- Sensory Stimulation
Many children with special needs benefit from additional sensory stimulation. Being able to engage all of their senses makes it easier for them to focus and reduces the risk of outbursts. Use colour, music and different forms of media to improve engagement. Objects with different textures that children can manipulate in their hands can be a valuable distraction for those who struggle to pay attention.
The type and placement of furniture become even more important when teaching children with special needs. This could include adjusting the height of chairs, fixing desks in place, or using assistive devices such as slanting boards. Not only will this help children with physical disabilities, but it also reduces the risk of injury if children are having to display challenging behaviour.
As part of successful special needs education, each child must get the kind of individualized support that recognizes and celebrates their specific challenges and strengths. While smaller class sizes are beneficial, they also require a teacher to spend more time with each student individually. The support of teaching assistants and other additional staff, as well as peer mentoring and buddy systems between students, can all help to ensure no child feels left behind.
These are just some of the ways that teachers may want to manage their classrooms when they teach children with learning difficulties, autism, developmental delays or other physical or cognitive disabilities. Successful tactics will make students feel more at ease, lower the danger of disruption, and make it simpler for them to concentrate and enjoy their sessions.