How to Accommodate Students with Special Educational Needs in The Classroom and Help Them Reach Their Potential

18 Aug 2022 | ESLteachers

Hong Kong has an integrated education system, in which students with special educational needs (SEN) are integrated into mainstream schools as much as possible, thus it is highly likely you will be teaching some students who have special educational needs.

You may be wondering how you can help these students reach their full potential while still ensuring that the needs of the rest of your class are met. Hong Kong has a specific support structure in place to help SEN students. Once a student has been identified as having special educational needs, an individual education plan (IEP) is created. The IEP outlines the student’s needs, goals, and the support and accommodations required to achieve those goals. Contact the staff at your school to see if there are any children who have an IEP, and tailor your lessons to help support them.

Below are some more generic tips to support your SEN students:

First and foremost, it is important to understand that every student is unique and has their own strengths and weaknesses. This applies to students with special educational needs as well. By taking the time to get to know each of your students, you can better understand their individual needs and how to best support them.

One effective way to accommodate SEN students is to provide a variety of learning experiences and materials. For example, you can use visual aids, hands-on activities, and group work to help students understand and retain information. Visual aids that can help break down the topic are particularly useful for SEN students who struggle to process verbal information. Additionally, you can use technology such as assistive devices, learning software, and audio books to support students with different learning styles.

Another important consideration is to create a positive and inclusive classroom environment. This can be achieved through building strong relationships with your students, encouraging them to participate in class activities, and making sure that they feel valued and supported. Additionally, providing a flexible seating arrangement and offering alternative learning activities can help create a comfortable and supportive atmosphere for all students, including those with SEN.

Being patient with students who have SEN is crucial to help them reach their potential. Understanding that people learn at different speeds and also have different needs is essential to both being a teacher in general and planning an effective lesson. 

Communication. Making sure that the student feels heard and is treated as a valued member of the class is crucial to helping them reach their potential. It is also important to communicate regularly with school leadership, your co-teachers, parents, caregivers, and other support professionals to ensure that you are providing the best support possible for your students with special educational needs. This could involve sharing information about your students’ progress and seeking advice and support on how to best accommodate their needs in the classroom.

In order to help SEN students reach their full potential, it is important to set achievable and realistic goals. These goals can come from the students IEP or they can be something that you individually set whilst working with the students. It’s important that these goals are regularly reviewed and adjusted as needed.

By understanding how SEN students are supported in Hong Kong and by following these tips and approaches, you can help create a positive and inclusive classroom environment that supports all students, including those with special educational needs, to reach their full potential. With dedication, patience, and a positive attitude, you can make a real difference in the lives of your students.