Your role as teacher is to create an environment in which all students can participate to the best of their abilities. One of your greatest challenges is to provide a positive learning environment for the students in your classroom. Because each student has his or her own unique set of physical and intellectual abilities, perceptions, and needs, the learning styles of your students may vary widely. Once you determine the special needs of your students, you can identify the areas of the curriculum that may present barriers to them. In order to eliminate those barriers, you may need to modify your teaching strategies. The following information will help you identify students with special needs. It also offers strategies for you to tailor your lessons and presentations so that all students have a more equal opportunity to experience success. Gifted
Although no formal definition exists, gifted students can be described as having above average ability, task commitment, and creativity. They rank in the top 5 percent of their classes. They are usually capable of divergent thinking. Students in your class who consistently finish work more quickly than others and who have above average ability, task commitment, and creativity may be considered gifted. Teaching Strategies
* Emphasize concepts, theories, relationships, ideas, and generalizations. * Let students express themselves in a variety of ways, including drawing, creative writing, or acting. * Make arrangements for gifted students to work on independent projects. * Make arrangements for gifted students to take selected subjects early. * Encourage gifted students to take on a wide variety of enrichment and independent practice activities that will put them in contact with people in the "real world" and allow them to observe the daily practices that lead to success. Second Language Learners
Some students speak English as a second language, or not at all. The customs and behavior of people in the majority culture may be confusing for some of these students. Cultural values may inhibit some of these students from full participation in the classroom. Teaching Strategies
* Remember that students' ability to speak English does not reflect their academic ability. * Try to incorporate students' cultural experiences into your instruction. The help of a bilingual aide may be effective. * Include information about different cultures in your curriculum to help build students' self-image. * Avoid cultural stereotypes.
* Encourage students to share their cultures in the classroom. * If your class includes any second language learners, provide outlines of lecture notes or planned classroom discussion topics in advance to give second language learners the opportunity to review materials later at a slower pace or to look up unfamiliar vocabulary. * When discussing numbers, speak slowly and clearly and write the numbers under discussion on the board along with the signs indicating the operations being performed. * In regular classroom activities, allow sufficient time for second language learners to answer verbal questions. * Pair second language learners with native speakers for verbal exercises when appropriate. * Give extra attention to second language learners when discussing telephone skills and interviewing techniques, as these topics can be intimidating for students who feel uncertain about using English. Students With Behavioral Disorders
Students with behavior disorders deviate from standards or expectations of behavior and impair the functioning of others and themselves. These children may also be gifted or have a learning disability. Teaching Strategies
* Work for long-term improvement; do not expect immediate success. * Talk with students about their strengths and weaknesses, and clearly outline objectives. * Structure schedules, rules, room arrangement, and safety for a...
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