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Donna O’Neill

Florida School for the Deaf and Blind
Special Needs Middle School

Key Points

Don’t try to move too quickly.  They need more time to learn the concepts.  So work with them and make sure they understand before moving on.  If they don’t have a firm grasp then they can’t learn what builds off of it.
While they are working those that do not understand work individually with them.
It takes longer to explain things but when they move out they will be able to function on their own.

Use whatever strategies you can to reach the students.
Group classes that have multiple levels into groups and teach to the majority.
In most cases there is an instructional aide (Paraprofessional) to help when working with different levels of students.
Modify the environment.
Manipulatives in math and science.
Vocab words on the wall so when they need help they can just look up.

“High expectations”
Not impossible but if you believe they can and show it they will achieve it.
The curriculum has to be modified and taught in a way that they can comprehend it even if it is academically too high for them.
Even though they have a disability students should help around the house.
Parents can teach background knowledge when going shopping, running errands, and doing things around the house.
Just because they have a disability and are deaf does not mean they cannot function independently.  They have the potential to go far if they are believed in and given the background knowledge.

Know the students’ background and family history before you work with them.
If possible ask other teachers who have worked with them, and parents what works for them.
If you find out something is inexpensive, i.e. deodorant, that will help that student have a successful year then go ahead and buy it for them so the year will go smoothly.
Parents should learn sign language, at least enough to have an everyday conversation with their child.

The IEP has to be followed.
The state standards have to be taught.
Provide background knowledge.
Discussions not lectures and presentations.

They need to know what to expect.
Proximity to the students will keep them on track.
Practice and repetitiveness to learn concepts.