How to Teach Students with Disabilities

by Rob Sutter

Everyone's ability to learn is going to vary. Some students are better able to learn by seeing messages over and over again, as that information can be obtained in time. Others, however, may learn better by doing, which is one of the many reasons why campuses in the culinary arts are so popular. However, when it comes to disabilities, which many students have, there's another level of challenge that aspiring teachers should know about.

It's easy to imagine that students with disabilities will require a different level of care than others. They are still capable of great things, which should go without saying. From what I have seen, though, teachers have to pinpoint where students struggle and see how those faults can be worked around.

One of the ways in which teachers can help students with disabilities is to take smaller steps in the learning process. Those with disabilities have difficulty processing tremendous amounts of information in short spans of time. What this means is that the students in question can benefit from smaller steps being taken. Once a single program is solved, the next one can be completed. Throwing too much work at a student can only make the educational experience more stressful for him or her, potentially resulting in fewer positive results.

Another way to help these students is to open up the means by which notes can be taken. It's easy to imagine that physical notes, through notebooks and the like, can prove to be useful. However, what if students are unable to take notes at the speed instructors speak? Recorders can help, especially when there are apps designed for this; both smartphones and tablets can prove useful in this regard. What about the usage of laptops for those who type better than they write? Devices such as those should be allowed, too. These are just a few more ways to get around disabilities, as it relates to the learning experience.

Once work is completed, teachers should make it a point to give constructive feedback. This could be anything from praise regarding the improvement that students have made to information regarding the faults that still require work. Simply saying "good job" or "try harder next time" will not yield results. If anything, such basic methods of response will only make students with disabilities feel more stressed, which does no one any favors. To say the least, feedback matters. As a result, if you're going to teach those who have learning disabilities, it's of the important importance that feedback is as detailed as possible.

These talking points will help anyone who's passionate about teaching, whether they are involved in four-year universities, a Suffolk County Christian church, or what have you. Students with disabilities have all of the potential in the world. It's just a matter of figuring out the best way for that very potential to be unlocked.

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