Classroom management in Special Education can be a very relative term. After administrative regulations, classroom management begins with the Teacher. Since I’ve run into my share of special ed. teachers who were high-strung, intense or emotionally volitile, I think it’s necessary to mention that these teachers need to find a way to obtain an inner calmness of mind and emotions.
It’s not a field for the sensitive, nervous or burnt out. It lessens success. Managing a classroom requires organization, focus, creativity, preparation and investment of time. So it’s important to put personal troubles behind when managing a special ed. classroom.
How a teacher decorates and arranges the walls of the special ed. classroom should be done with the specific, special needs classifications of his or her students in mind. For example, autistic and multiply-handicapped are known to do better with less busyness up on the walls. A cluttered or busy wall environment can be disconcerting and sometimes upsetting for these students.
It’s off the top that being organized and prepared in scheduling, keeping records, detailed calendars, week plans and student behavior and incident journals are of utmost importance. Not just for a smoother year, but it keeps stress levels and pressure down, and you are covered with well documented records should problems arise.
The more detailed the records, the better off you are. Administration and community professionals who will be working with your students appreciate and even desire thorough records.
You have your curriculum guidelines, but being creative and thoughtful in how you execute your lessons and transition times is a big help once you’ve acquainted yourself with your students and are able to perceive their specific needs and the best approach to take with them – both corporately and individually.
Ever heard the term: “Behind every good man is a good woman?” The same goes for your assistants. The special ed. teacher assistants or para-educators are there to help you accomplish your goals, and it’s important to deal with them politely and respectfully as a team leader, rather than being, condescending, or using them to shirk your own duties. The idea is to have a relationship with them that is conducive to working well together as a team.
Avoid reprimanding assistants openly. If there is a problem, confer with them in private. Not very many people wish to be humiliated or talked down to, and that includes your assistants. The special ed. teacher’s assistants are very important to the success of your class days, so remember to treat them well.
Sometimes assistants can be very creative in accomplishing your classroom goals or dealing with specific students, so give them room to blossom and be who they are. There are many ways to skin a cat, it doesn’t always have to be your way. If it’s not broken, don’t try to fix it. The goal is to have a smooth and successful work day. Unhappy or disgruntled assistants does not work in your favor.
Don’t try to do everything yourself. Let others be involved and swap favors with other teachers to work together on particular projects and things. Networking and using various, available sources to accomplish goals can be very complementary and helpful to all concerned. Encouraging parental involvement and help can also be an asset to the success of your class day.
Some parents love to be of help. Check with the office however, concerning volunteer regulations and protocol. Special Ed. is known to be a stressful and difficult work environment as a rule, so any way you can use extra, available sources will help cut down on stress levels.
If you find yourself having a bad day, let other members of your team take some of the slack for you, and do the same yourself when they are in need of extra support. Not only does this help morale and corporate stamina, but the students benefit from a strong team unit.
Don’t allow yourself to lose that human part of you. Your ability to care and believe in what you are doing is just as critical as your gifts, talents, personality and intuitive contributions. If you remember the basic tips here, you will have a smoother school year with minimal stress.