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My Philosophy Of Teaching Students in a High Needs Environment

Updated on July 28, 2016

A Worthwhile Student Investment

Teaching students in a High-Needs environment can be challenging and overwhelming at times. But the investment is worth the time if you can lift just one student out of the trap called illiteracy.

There are three reasons I would like to teach in a school with a High-needs or high risk environment. First, I like to see students excel in education. Having been raised in environments filled with drugs, violence, and neglect, most students with special needs don't see education as worthwhile. They need to believe in themselves and in their ability to be somebody special. This is where my job as a good teacher comes into play. I must motivate them and teach them the value of a good education. They must know that an education will promote them, both personally and socially.

Inspiring Worthiness

A quality education will help them feel good about themselves and recognized positively among their peers and professional people alike. It will bring them recognition and reward beyond the years of school life. Many doors will be open and many opportunities will abound that would have otherwise been unreachable.

Second, I delight in my part in preparing them to become good citizens. The good citizen is a great and positive example for society. They practice and promote good values among their family and friends and coworkers. The good citizen is a great example for the young. They show the young how to work, play, and contribute to the betterment of their community. If high need students are made aware of their ability to become great contributors to society by means of a mind for education, they will have a positive vision and feel good about coming to school.

The Virtue of Patience

Second, one of the greatest abilities a teacher can have is patience with their students. I have had this ability for thirteen years. Considering the many difficult challenges high risk students have to face, there is a need for teachers who are patience and persevering. Many times because teachers have to be teacher, parent, and psychologist in today's classrooms, many teachers become highly frustrated with the students and give up on their professions. They lose hope. But hope must be sustained in the high need schools because that is exactly what the student's need. The very reason they are there is that they have no hope any place else. Ninety percent of the time these high risk students come from dysfunctional families and oppressive neighbors where their best interest in not in mind. So must students come to school not motivated enough to be interested in learning anything.

Teaching Under Intimidation

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Therefore, as a teacher I came to school with the intent of doing whatever it took in order to help my students, which meant being a teacher, parent, and psychologist, not once and awhile, but everyday. In my class, their where student who misbehaved constantly (almost eighty percent of the class) throughout the day, but by patiently administering personal, social, and structural motivation, the time finally arrived when I began to see significant progress. Uninterested student became interested, slow learners became excited, but most importantly character begin to change. One student was so transformed in the second half of the school year that his fellow classmates as well as his parents saw the change. Patience is both a virtue and also a great ability.

Number One Teacher Quality

The number one quality within any teacher entrenched in a High-needs environment is patience.

Third, patience is a virtue needed more than ever in today's disruptive classroom. In this type of classroom most students have no respect. They do not care about their behavior or about its effect on anyone else. Their attitude is cold. But this is an issue that must be addressed. Addressing it will take time and patience. Therefore I took time to get to know my students. On the first day of class we formed circles often with a different set of questions aimed at getting to know one another better. We discussed rules and regulations, procedures, and processes, we learned about what one another liked and feared, we learned about one another dreams and hopes. I also lead appropriate classroom games that provided interaction in order to test my student's social ability. The goal of this kind of activity was for me to connect personally to my students and for them to connect personally to one another. My intention was to create a team concept so that no student fills unimportant to the success his or her classroom.

Tips for Special Needs Students

Motivation: A priority

The greatest need for students in high need classrooms is to be motivated first. Therefore preparing mental readiness must be the teacher's first goal. High need children are people with feelings, thoughts, emotions, and a host of personal challenges. To ignore this would be a mistake. Their personal reality must be confronted first if there is to be a progressive classroom where the joy of learning is taking place. My approach was very effective, and although there were challenges here and there, I had created a positive learning environment. This should be the testimony of all teachers.

Effective Classroom Management


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