“Why should we make accommodations for one student? Shouldn’t these students try to learn the ways of the world? Are they always going to have accommodations? Won’t the other students consider this favoritism or start to misbehave to get the same kind of attention/accommodation?”

Teachers ask these questions frequently as they begin to adapt to the various needs of their students.

seating in classroom

A typical classroom will have students functioning at various levels. Some students need adaptations and accommodations to participate due to visible disabilities while others have needs that may manifest as a behavior rather than a physical need. As teachers, it is our responsibility to provide a learning environment for all students. The teacher’s example should instill respect and understanding from other students, rather than competition and ridicule. When teachers create such a classroom environment, students develop the confidence to problem solve and find ways to meet their needs.

Setting Accommodations

When teachers alter a variable in the classroom or any other location where students are taught, they effectively provide setting accommodations. Here are some questions to guide teachers in their classroom:

Is the student seated at the front? Is the board clearly visible from the seat? Is the teacher easily accessible for help?

Can the student get to the door quickly, to take short breaks, without disturbing/distracting others?

Is the student’s area neat and uncluttered that the student may attend to the teacher’s instructions without being distracted?

Do you give directions while standing near the student? Proximity is a simple and yet effective factor in how the student listens and responds to directions.

Is the student seated next to a positive role model? Your direct teaching of study skills (like organization, prioritizing) is reinforced when the student observes and follows the peer model. An approachable, friendly peer will be able to help clarify doubts quickly in a non-threatening manner.

Can the student easily access personal effects like water bottle/snack box (in case of dry mouth or hunger pangs due to medication)?

Can the student hear you during group discussion? Noise in the classroom is one of the most overlooked factors in Indian schools. Teachers raise their voice to drown out students instead of teaching them to listen for instructions. Student responses (especially in younger classes) are required to be louder and louder to indicate ‘attention’. Unfortunately noisy environments serve to hide the difficulties a student may be facing and may even exacerbate the same by over stimulating the students.

Have you made provisions for the fidgety student to be able to move or receive sensory feedback without disrupting the rest of the class? Squishy toys, bumpy seats, and other fidgets like pencil toppers can help students attend in class even as they move.