Wherever you are teaching, it’s likely that you have one or two children who disrupt the class or are withdrawn from the group. These students require extra teacher time. They may be hyperactive, emotionally disturbed, or they may be used to having everything they want without any sharing. The subject of this article is to provide suggestions for coping with these children while meeting the needs of the rest of the class.
What Can Teachers Do?
The first step is to try to have someone check the child’s eyesight. Anyone who has had any difficulties with their eyes will know how this can change behavior and understanding. If you can’t get a child’s eyesight checked or you doubt the results of a checkup then try sitting the student close to the front of the room and watch for behavioral changes.
Another initial step is to try to have the child’s hearing checked. It may be difficult to get information that is helpful. Auditory checkups often report that there is no problem because even if there is some hearing loss, the results may show that the child’s hearing is within the normal range.
For the student that is visually distracted by everything, try sitting them beside a small partition for their independent work time. They should not be separated during class participation times. It’s a good idea to discuss this with the school administration and the parents before setting it up. A low piece of cardboard may be all that is needed.
Some children are distracted by noise or they can’t turn off what is being said in another part of the room while they are expected to do their independent work. This is a more difficult problem to deal with. Talk to the schools administration, the parents or any special education staff member. Some possibilities that might help are: having the child work in a quiet but supervised area or have the student wear anything that will reduce the intensity of the background noise. This second option can make the child feel different. I’ve introduced earmuffs that cut the sound but it was an honor for a child to wear them. Everyone wanted a turn! That was easy to arrange.
Some children are used to having all the adult attention and getting what they want. Have you heard them say, “It’s not fair!” These students are perhaps the most difficult to help. Sit them in a part of the room where their disruptive behavior will be the least noticed by the other students.
-Try to – Catch Them Doing It Right – this will give them the attention they crave in a positive way.
Consider these suggestions:
Cultivate Relationships and Be Culturally Responsive. Create a supportive and inclusive classroom environment where students feel known, appreciated, and comfortable taking risks. Encourage students to embrace their culture and language as part of their identity. Foster an appreciation of diversity by incorporating students’ backgrounds and identities into the curriculum and classroom environment.
Emphasize Productive Language. Prioritize speaking and writing skills from the beginning, even if students feel hesitant. Recognize that receptive language skills like listening and reading may develop first, but it’s crucial to actively support students in producing oral and written language. Provide ample opportunities for practice, encourage communication, and create a safe space for students to express themselves.
Implement Integrated Co-Teaching Dual Language Programs. In bilingual programs, consider an Integrated Co-Teaching (ICT) Dual Language (DL) program. This model combines general education and special education teachers to provide instruction in both English and the students’ native language. It caters to the unique needs of bilingual learners with disabilities, promoting academic content acquisition while supporting social and cultural adaptation.
Provide Individualized Support. Identify the specific learning difficulties faced by each child and tailor instructional strategies accordingly. Use differentiated instruction techniques, such as visual aids, hands-on activities, and multisensory approaches, to accommodate different learning styles and abilities. Offer additional support through small-group instruction, tutoring, or intervention programs.
Use Assistive Technology. Leverage educational technology tools and applications designed to support language learning and accommodate diverse learning needs. These tools can provide visual cues, pronunciation assistance, interactive exercises, and personalized learning experiences. Assess the suitability of assistive technology based on individual student requirements and provide appropriate training and support for both students and teachers.
Collaborate with Parents and Families. Maintain open and regular communication with parents and involve them in their child’s language learning journey. Seek their insights, cultural knowledge, and support. Encourage parents to engage in activities that promote English language development at home, such as reading books, watching educational videos, or practicing conversational English. Provide resources and workshops that empower parents to support their child’s learning.
These suggestions cover just a small part of the situations that teachers encounter every day. Try them if they apply to your situation. Every child is different and there is no perfect way to solve these problems. Just keep trying and feel good about even the smallest success.