The key to a calm and welcoming classroom is to create a supportive classroom environment for students with special needs! I’ll give you some tips and tricks to cultivate a classroom environment!
Build a relationship with your students
The best way to start building a supportive classroom environment is to build a relationship with your students. You can do this in a number of ways:
- Monitor what students are doing in their free time
- Play with them
- Model communication with them in free time
- Provide adequate and frequent reinforcement
- Be consistent and predictable
- Provide clear expectations
- Stick to a routine
- Use visual cues
Students crave stability and structure. Make your classroom a supportive environment by establishing routines. Keep your daily schedule consistent, use visual cues, use the same wording during transitions, and use visual schedules to give your students a predictable, structured day. This will ultimately help them feel safe and supported in your classroom.
Differentiate teaching to individual students
Another way to create a supportive environment for students with special needs is to differentiate instruction to meet the individual needs of each student. Meeting our students where they are academically, socially and emotionally is vital to making them feel supported and confident in the classroom.
Teach social emotional skills
Teaching our students social-emotional skills is the best way to help them gain independence and safety. Many of our students do not yet understand their emotions and how to regulate themselves. Our job is to help teach them the skills they need to regulate and deal with the emotions they may experience during the school day.
Spaces in your classroom
Create spaces in your classroom where students can go to calm down and regulate. Give them time to enjoy these spaces and be themselves. I created a DIY sensory room for my classroom and have a quiet center available for students at any time of the day.
The goal is for our students to feel safe, supported, and able to be unapologetically themselves in our classrooms. These are just some of the ways we can create a supportive environment for students with special needs. What are you doing to create a supportive classroom? Share in the comments!