Friday, July 31, 2015

Working with Special Needs Students

It may come as a surprise to you but working with special needs students or teaching at a special needs school is not a rare occurrence on the JET Program. All three of my elementary schools provide assistant teachers for students with learning disabilities or a seperate classroom for students with special needs.

For students with learning disabilties, continue to teach class and play games like normal but keep in mind that they may have a hard time learning and remembering English. Therefore, competitions where they have to quickly say words may end with the student crying from embarassment. Instead, have group games or pair them with a friendly student who can assist.

For special needs students, English class is more like English playtime. Nevertheless, catering to different disabilities for varing ages can be a challenge. I recommend asking the teacher about the students disabilities and planning lessons around their needs. Pinterest is my go-to for lesson plans. Cooking and crafts are ideal with special needs students, but don't be afraid to get creative. One of my students' favorite lessons was Twister! They didn't sell the game until the new Rycom Aeon opened this spring, but I printed and laminated dots that I taped to the floor. They had the best time speaking in Japanglish while twisting themselves into a knot. 

Mind you, you may have students that are bound to a wheelchair, but that doesn't mean that they can't have fun - just research! There are also great ideas online for students with severe mental disabilities, such as Down's Syndrom. The goal is for the students to have fun with you and use a bit of English. Teach them fruits while you make a parfait together or colors while you paint - the ideas are endless! Most importantly, enjoy your time with them; it's precious!

This is Jua. 
She's a special needs student who evaded her handlers.
I found her in the English room and played with her for a bit.
Jus enjoys English but this day she was testing my Japanese.
She saying "sekai" which means "correct" in Japanese. 

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