Best Practices for Special Education
Be consistent. When you reprimand a student for an action one day and ignore it the next, children will not know what to expect. As a result, they will try it again to see if they can “get away with it.” They are quick to see and resent the basic unfairness of inconsistency.
Do not make idle threats. Be ready to carry through with consequences.
Look for reasons behind misbehavior.
Be sure that all students know the rules. If you expect your pupils to behave in a certain way, tell them so, and explain the reasons why. A class discussion of these rules can be enlightening to both you and your class. You may discover that some of your rules have no real purpose and that you can make improvements.
Check your own feelings about individual students. Do not play favorites. It is hard to like sullen or rebellious students, and easy to like the quiet conformists. Showing dislike of the rebel could incite more rebellion.
Watch your tongue. A tongue-lashing may end the disturbance and make you feel better but at what cost?
Do not make study a punishment.
Let them know that you like them. Look for things to praise, especially in students who are discipline problems. Tell individuals when you like their good behavior; be specific. Other students who also want praise will follow. Accept these students as worthwhile, in spite of their misbehavior. Disapprove of the act certainly, but not the individual.
Do not try to do the impossible. Some students have emotional problems only a better-trained person can solve. When a child is a consistent troublemaker and all your efforts to help him/her fail, the time has come to refer that child and parent to the school counselor, psychologist, or other resource professionals who provide such services.
Control your temper. Flying off the handle merely shows students that they have gotten to you. When you “lose your cool,” you lose your ability to solve the discipline problem sanely, rationally, and thoughtfully.
Do not be afraid to apologize if you have treated a pupil unjustly.
Delinquent behavior may be normal behavior in a child’s cultural background. It is important that you understand that background. You do not have to accept misbehavior.
Know the rights given to parents. Be careful not to violate them.
Know what is expected of you. This information can be found in the student’s Individual Educational Plan (IEP). The IEP, developed by the Admission, Review, Dismissal (ARD) Committee, is based on a student’s current skills, abilities, and educational need(s) identified during the assessment process. The IEP states which services the child needs, how those services will be provided, when and where they will be provided, and who will provide them. It describes the child’s educational program and any modified essential elements of the Texas State Curriculum (Chapter 75) necessary for the program to meet his or her needs.
Know that a student in special education is subject to the school’s student code of conduct unless otherwise stated in the IEP. The IEP may include a behavior management plan which outlines disciplinary options to be used in addition to, or instead of, certain parts of the district code. In some cases, inappropriate behavior may cause the child to be removed from classes and school for a few days or to be sent to an alternative education program.
Know when and how to request additional services and assistance.
Know that it is the teacher’s responsibility to provide documentation when requesting additional assistance or a more restrictive environment for the student.