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Using evidence-based practices when teaching special education students

Friday, September 04, 2015 | 12:00 AM

Evidence-based practices offer techniques for teachers

People who teach students with disabilities often use different techniques than those who teach in a regular classroom. Evidence-based teaching strategies give teachers the tools they need to best interact with their students and create a constructive learning environment. Teaching special education students is a unique challenge that requires creativity and flexibility. By learning from those who are already in the field, you may be able to develop your teaching skills and techniques more quickly than trial and error in your own classroom.

Evidence-based teaching practices by definition

By examining the practices that other teachers and school systems have tried, teachers can discover new ways to redesign their classroom lessons to best fit with what the specific student needs. Teaching special education students can be challenging because even if two students have the same diagnosis, they may have very different presentations of symptoms. Evidence-based teaching practices are based in scientific research of current classrooms.

Evaluating teaching methods

According to Richard L. Simpson in Evidence-Based Practices and Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders, there are multiple questions that must be answered about the evaluation of evidence-based teaching methods. Before a teacher tries any specific method, it is important to ask if the goals of the practice align with the goals of the student. Next, the instructor needs to ask if the practice may cause harm to the student. Finally, the teacher must decide how to evaluate the practices used. As each student is unique, some methods may or may not work with specific students. By evaluating these practices effectively, teachers can be sure they are reaching students in the best way possible.

Examples of evidence-based teaching practices

According to the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, some of the practices that are considered evidence-based include activities as simple as response interruption and redirection to more involved options. Some of these methods even include parent training and computer-assisted instruction. By using these methods, teachers can be sure that they are using techniques that have been tried in the classroom and proven to work with students.

As a teacher, developing your skills is an important part of your professional development. By learning methods that have worked well in other classrooms you can have an idea of the outcomes to expect in your own classroom. Beyond these methods, you may want to further your education to learn more ways to help your students succeed as well.


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