Education World is pleased to present this professional development resource shared by Dr. Jane Bluestein, an expert in relationship-building, positive school climate and effective instruction.
Have a student in your class who's fidgety and disruptive? Maybe she's always daydreaming, or maybe you're constantly repeating verbal directions for him. Dr. Jane Bluestein suggests that these types of challenges may be due to a mismatch between the classroom environment and the child's sensory needs.
Dr. Bluestein offers helpful tips on differentiating instruction and adjusting instructional style to ensure the success of every learner. There are probably hundreds of ways to accommodate differences in sensory processing, ranging from different seating, a change in lighting (or protection from strong light), auditory input (music or headphones), other tactile/kinesthetic options (like velcro glued to the desk, or a bungee cord around the legs of the chair), etc.
Educators should remain sensitive to what works for the child and choose a specific intervention accordingly. They also should keep in mind that not all disruptive or distracting student behaviors have sensory causes; a complete functional analysis will help uncover the conditions that increase the likelihood of particular behaviors.
Below are just a few examples of instructional practices that vary sensory modalities, taking into account verbal, visual, auditory and kinesthetic abilities and preferences.
Want to delve deeper? Try printing out this handy Tips Sheet and discussing it at your next staff meeting. Teachers also can keep the tips sheet in the classroom as a reminder.
Accommodating variations in children's sensory needs and abilities doesn't have to be complicated or costly. The first step is simply being aware of differences between students, and accepting them for who--and how--they are.
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