Special Education Teaching Best Practices

Friday, October 18, 2013 -- Kristin Flynn

At Edmentum, we understand that you are constantly striving to meet increasing standards with fewer dollars.  The following best practices can be used to provide high-quality, laser-focused instruction for your special education students, regardless of the instruction model used. Here are few best practices for special education teams.

 1.       Use face-to-face and rotation blended learning models.

Our special education students are spending more and more time in the general education setting. While this is extremely beneficial for academic and social reasons, it often adds another layer of complexity to the provision of quality individualized instruction. When students receiving special education services are able to spend a portion of class time on focused, differentiated learning that addresses skill deficits through quality online instruction, students benefit greatly. And that provides the teacher with a powerful tool to assist in personalizing learning for our most at-risk students. 

 2.       Customize learning plans to directly support standards-based IEPs.

Over the past several years, there has been a welcome push to improve the quality of IEP goals to include recognized state and national standards. There is no question that this levels the playing field for students receiving special education services, and it has drastically improved instructional goal setting. Online instruction can be a powerful tool in assisting special educators in the design and delivery of instruction. Therefore, it is vital that any online tool used for students receiving special education services be flexible enough to provide instruction, assessment, and powerful reporting based on state and national standards. 

 3.       Use instructional content that engages students through multiple learning modalities.

It is essential that classroom instruction appeal to auditory, visual, and kinesthetic learners. Students receiving special education services must be exposed to content that is not simply one modality, such as all text or all auditory. Students need to be exposed to a variety of instructional modalities that engage all learning styles with a pedagogically sound approach that focuses on mastery. 

 4.       Use assessments that are flexible and diagnostic/prescriptive.

Special education programs must measure student gains, and students must demonstrate mastery on foundational learning objectives before moving forward. Therefore, it is critical that programs for students receiving special education services include a robust assessment component that is powerful and dynamic enough to assess a broad range of academic skills and knowledge. It is equally vital that instruction is differentiated based on assessment strengths and weaknesses. 

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