It is not easy for the special needs educator to get everything under control in a class unless he/she is able to prepare for the future and develop a proper list of instructions for the imparting of knowledge to the students under his/her tutelage. It is important for the learners of the teacher training courses for special child to be able to understand how to deliver the instructions properly to their students and in the following lines, we will have a look at the various means which can be helpful for the teachers to do the same when they start their tenure as a special needs educator.
To accommodate to the student’s short attention span, academic assignments should be brief and feedback regarding accuracy immediate. Longer projects should be broken up into manageable parts. Short time limits for task completion should be specified and can be enforced with timers, which should be one of the most important lessons that the learners of the teacher training courses for special child should have knowledge about.
The future special needs educators should also inculcate the ways to attract attention to task, which is improved when the student with ADHD is engaged in teacher-directed as opposed to independent seat-work activities. Also, the teaching of note-taking strategies increases the benefits of direct instruction. Both comprehension and on-task behaviour improve with the development of these skills.
Class-wide peer tutoring provides many of the instructional variables known to be important in setting up students with ADHD for success and the learners of the teacher training courses for special child should take note of that. It provides frequent and immediate feedback. When combined with a token economy, peer tutoring has been found to yield dramatic academic gains.
Based on evidence that the behaviour of students with ADHD progressively might worsen over the course of the day, it is suggested that academic instruction be provided in the morning. During the afternoon, when problem solving skills are especially poor, more active, non-academic activities should be scheduled to help the children with special needs and it is important for the future special needs educators to understand and inculcate that.
Structure and organization
Lessons should be carefully structured and important points clearly identified. Students with ADHD perform better on memory tasks when material is meaningfully structured for them. The learners of the teacher training courses for special child can look forward to take note of these and implement them when they start their career in the sphere of special needs education.
Rule reminders and visual cues
The rules given to students with ADHD must be well defined, specific and frequently reinforced through visible modes of presentation. Well-defined rules with clear consequences are essential. Relying on the student’s memory of rules is not sufficient. Visual rule reminders or cues should be placed throughout the classroom. It is also helpful if rules are reviewed before activity transitions and following school breaks. It is also very important to inculcate for the future special needs educators.
Providing students with ADHD auditory cues that prompt appropriate classroom behaviour is helpful. For example, use of a tape with tones placed at irregular intervals to remind students to monitor their on-task behaviour has been found to improve arithmetic productivity. This can be a very useful tool for the learners of the teacher training courses for special child when they start teaching.
Pacing of work
When possible, it is helpful to allow students with ADHD to set their own pace for task completion. The intensity of problematic ADHD behaviours is less when work is self paced, as compared to situations where work is paced by others and the future special needs educators should keep that in mind.
Because students with ADHD have difficulty following multi-step directions, it is important for instruction to be short, specific and direct. Further, to ensure understanding, it is helpful if these students are asked to rephrase directions in their own words. Additionally, teachers must be prepared to repeat directions frequently, and recognize that students often may not have paid attention to what was said. This is important for the future educators to understand and inculcate when they start their educational career.
Productive physical movement
The student with ADHD may have difficulty sitting still. Thus, productive physical movement should be planned. It is appropriate to allow the student with ADHD opportunities for controlled movement and to develop a repertoire of physical activities for the entire class such as stretch breaks. Other examples might include a trip to the office, a chance to sharpen a pencil, taking a note to another teacher, watering the plants, feeding classroom pets, or simply standing at a desk while completing classwork. Alternating seat work activities with other activities that allow for movement is essential. It is also important to keep in mind that on some days it will be more difficult for the student to sit still than on others. Thus, the future teachers, who are currently the learners of the teacher training courses for special child, need to be flexible and modify instructional demands accordingly.
Active vs. passive involvement
In line with the idea of providing for productive physical movement, tasks that require active (as opposed to passive) responses may help hyperactive students channel their disruptive behaviours into constructive responses. While it may be problematic for these children to sit and listen to a long lecture, teachers might find that students with ADHD can be successful participants in the same lecture when asked to help, which should be kept in mind by the learners of the teacher training courses for special child.
Generally, research has not supported the effectiveness of complete elimination of all irrelevant stimuli from the student’s environment. However, as these students have difficulty paying attention to begin with, it is important that attractive alternatives to the task at hand be minimized. For example, activity centers, mobiles, aquariums and terrariums should not be placed within the student’s visual field. The minimisation of distractions can be really helpful for the development of the students and the future educators should understand and inculcate this.
Knowledge of ADHD and its primary symptoms is helpful in anticipating difficult situations. It is important to keep in mind that some situations will be more difficult for than others. For example, effortful problem solving tasks are especially problematic. These situations should be anticipated and appropriate accommodations made. When presenting a task that the teacher suspects might exceed the student’s capacity to be attentive, it is appropriate to reduce assignment length and emphasize quality as opposed to quantity. The learners of the teacher training courses for special child should be well acquainted with this.
Although classroom environment changes can be helpful in reducing problematic behaviours and learning difficulties, by themselves they are typically not sufficient. Thus, contingencies need to be available that reinforce appropriate or desired behaviours, and discourage inappropriate or undesired behaviours, which is important for the future educators to learn and detect when they start teaching.
Powerful external reinforcement
First, it is important to keep in mind that the contingencies or consequences used with these students must be delivered more immediately and frequently than is typically the case. Additionally, the consequences used need to be more powerful and of a higher magnitude than is required for students without ADHD. Students with ADHD need external criteria for success and need a pay-off for increased performance. Relying on intangible rewards is not enough and the future special needs educators should know that well.
Use of both negative and positive consequences is essential when working with ADHD students. However, before negative consequences can be implemented, appropriate and rich incentives should first be developed to reinforce desired behaviour. It is important to give much encouragement, praise and affection as these students are easily discouraged. When negative consequences are administered, they should be given in a fashion that does not embarrass or put down students. Also, it is important to keep in mind that the rewards used with these students lose their reinforcing power quickly and must be changed or rotated frequently. This is something that the learners of the teacher training courses for special child should keep not of before they start their career in the sphere of education.
Token economy systems
These systems are an example of a behavioural strategy proven to be helpful in improving both the academic and behavioural functioning of students with ADHD. These systems typically involved giving students tokens (e.g., poker chips) when they display appropriate behaviour. These tokens are in turn exchanged for tangible rewards or privileges at specified times, and should be implemented in the course content by the future educators when they start teaching.
Removing the student from positive reinforcement, or time-out, typically involves removing the student from classroom activities. Time-out can be effective in reducing aggressive and disruptive actions in the classroom, especially when these behaviors are strengthened by peer attention. They are not helpful, however, when problem behavior is a result of the students desire to avoid school work. The time-out area should be a pleasant environment and a student should be placed in it for only a short time. Time-out is ended based upon the student’s attitude. At its conclusion a discussion of what went wrong and how to prevent the problem in the future takes place. While these procedures are effective with ADHD students, it is recommended that they be used only with the most disruptive classroom behaviours and only when the staff is well trained. This can help in the development of the future educators, who are currently pursuing the teacher training courses for special child.
As students with special needs are a heterogeneous group, it is suggested that classroom modifications be tailored to the unique needs of each student. The aforementioned techniques can be helpful for the future special needs educators to plan instructions properly, especially for those who are currently pursuing the teacher training courses for special child.