7 tips for mainstreaming a child into your classroom

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

So you are a mainstream teacher, maybe you take turns, maybe you enjoy it and request to do it but however it turns out you are the mainstream teacher this year.  Here are some tips to make the mainstream experience a GREAT one not only for the child and aide coming in to join your class but for everyone involved.
Welcome to another edition in my weekly series:

7 tips to help make mainstreaming a great experience for everyone

Being a mainstream teacher is a wonderful experience for all involved usually.  Sometimes it can be a poor placement and it can be an unfortunate experience but usually it's really is a great experience.  Here are some tips to make the most of it:

Reach out to the parents right away.  Be sure to introduce yourself and let them know how excited you are to be their child's mainstream teacher.  Reassure them that your intentions are to include their child in all things according to the IEP that they are expecting.  That way there is a clear understanding from the beginning and they feel more confident knowing that you are excited to be their child's mainstream teacher.

mainstreaming in the classroom, 7 tips to help you out.

Be sure to introduce yourself to the one on one aide as well.  Most likely this child will come to you with an aide.  Make the aide feel right at home in your classroom, be sure there is a seat available for the child with a name tag as well as a chair for the aide too.  It just makes them both feel like they are part of your class.

Be sure to have some options available in case they are needed...for in stance a flexible seating option - maybe borrow a hooki stool from someone if you don't already have one so if they need some wiggle room it's easy and not too distracting to the other students.

tips for mainstreaming kids into your gen ed classroom

This one sounds easy but trust me it can be easy to screw this part up.  Don't forget to include them...sounds easy enough right?!?!  If your class earned a popsicle party and he/she was in your room for some of the points include the child in the party.  Make them feel like they are just as much a part of your class as the kids on your roster.  When there is an assembly try to remember to include them so they don't miss out ( if it's part of their IEP  and supported by parents, etc. )

Try to have fidget tools available for them.  I know none of us are fans of the fidget spinners but the cube has worked wonders with some of my kiddos with ADHD.  There are several options out there, ask the special ed team for support on this and see what is in their IEP as well.

mainstreaming tips

Sometimes students that come into your room aren't use to the hustle and bustle of a gen ed classroom even with great classroom management...so have some larger headphones available to them 
( not earbuds ) that can actually block out the noise.

mainstreaming tips
It's always a good idea to find some picture books to read to your students to prepare them for their new classmate.  I always refer to the child that comes in whether for 30 min. a day or a 1/2 day as their classmate not a visitor.  This child needs to have a spot to hang their work, a name tag and an invite to open house where they can share their work with their parents.  They need to feel like they are just as much a part of your classroom as anyone else.  So prepare your students so they can be welcoming to this child.  Picture books are the perfect way to get the conversation started and always be sure to make that child feel like they are special obviously but also part of your class for sure!

I hope you found this helpful if you are going to be a mainstream teacher this year.  I remember the first time years ago when I was assigned this very important job.  I felt very inadequate because I didn't have a special ed degree.  You'll find though that reaching out to the special ed team is a great resource.  They will be happy to help you with this transition.
** ALSO Bonus # 8 - Collect work samples from them so that you can be prepared at their annual IEP to show what they are doing when they come to visit you.  This will really impress the parents that you care enough to do this and you are able to speak on this.  If necessary take notes/documentation this has been very helpful in the past to bring up specific instances of when things were off, etc.  To have dates and examples available was beneficial.  
Let me know if you have used any of these tips when you have been a mainstream teacher... what would you add to the list?
As always, happy teaching!

No comments