Teacher’s Lounge Blog

Learn more about teacher preparation, test tips, online learning, professional development, and a variety of other valuable teacher topics.

Inclusive Learning in the Online Classroom

October 14th, 2020 | Comments Off on Inclusive Learning in the Online Classroom | Inclusive Teaching, Remote Learning, Teacher's Lounge Blog, Teaching Licenses

There are a variety of challenges that face students in the online classroom environment, not the least of which are reliable internet access and a decent computer. Teachers can create the best lesson plans ever but if the children do not have these important implements, then both teachers and students are often wasting their time.

Another critical issue in our currently ever-changing school scenario is reaching all students and creating an inclusive online classroom that meets students of every ability level. This is challenging enough in the in-person classroom setting but requires much additional thought and preparation when classes meet virtually.

There are several strategies that educators can follow to help themselves and students make the most of the learning opportunities this format and create an atmosphere of respect and positivity.

  • Clearly outline your expectations for all aspects of the online classroom, from attendance to participation, assignments, evaluations, and deadlines. Model appropriate and inappropriate responses, provide examples, and provide relevant feedback.
  • Evaluate every lesson to ensure that it meets guidelines for all types of students. Consider varied content delivery methods, closed captioning, how and when feedback is provided, easily readable instructions, accessibility, etc.
  • Language and content should be suited for a diverse and multi-cultural audience.
  • It often requires more effort to connect with students in an online format. Timely response and feedback tailored to each student individually is more inclusive than a quick “good job” on an assignment. Schedule virtual “office hours” when students can contact you for a chat via your school’s chosen online platform.
  • Flexibility is critical. Your great idea for a lesson may not work with your students. Have several options available and be prepared to “shift gears” if needed.
  • If you feel you are a little “rusty” when it comes to inclusion strategies, sign up for a professional development program like Prepforward’s Online K-6 Inclusion Course, which can be beneficial in the physical classroom as well as in an online setting.

It is likely that we will continue to adapt education guidelines across the country as the year progresses and into the future. Remaining mindful of what is best for the students we serve ensures that whatever our classrooms look like, that we meet the needs of all students regardless of background or ability level.


Including Special Needs Students in Your Elementary Classroom

April 15th, 2020 | Comments Off on Including Special Needs Students in Your Elementary Classroom | Certification Prep, Inclusive Teaching, Teacher's Lounge Blog, Teaching Licenses

Hopefully, by Fall 2020, our classrooms will be back to “normal.” We will be in our traditional school environment, standing in front of our students, teaching standard subjects and encountering daily challenges and joys.

While many schools across the country have suspended classes for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year or are finishing up in an online setting, now is the perfect time to brush up on skills that we may have been neglecting due to lack of time or inclination.

One area where many educators struggle is how to handle an all-inclusive classroom. Conventional learning situations often do not apply to individuals with special needs. Take the opportunity now to develop strategies you can implement later for students in your class who are on the autism spectrum, have attention deficit disorders, or other learning disabilities.

Children of all ability levels will thrive when you utilize these simple yet effective tools.

  • Post the list of class rules in a prominent location and review them often. Keep them simple and easy to follow with clear consequences outlined.
  • Utilize visual aids that include images, graphs, charts, computer programs, and videos.
  • Follow a daily schedule and announce changes in advance whenever possible.
  • Peer tutoring has benefits for special needs students and the tutors.
  • Incorporate social skills into daily learning.
  • Focus on everyone’s strengths rather than their weaknesses.
  • Take short breaks between subjects. Sing a song, do some exercises, have a chat session.

For comprehensive preparation for running a strong inclusive classroom with children who have intellectual, behavioral, emotional, or psychological disorders, consider taking Prepforward’s online inclusion course. This state-of-the-art program includes classroom management, teaching strategies, tools for technical support, assessment, and lesson planning. Work at your own pace to determine what you can do to provide additional support to students in your general education classrooms. Use this time to add a continuing education class to your resume.

I Have a Student with Dysgraphia – How Can I Help Him?

December 18th, 2019 | Comments Off on I Have a Student with Dysgraphia – How Can I Help Him? | Inclusive Teaching, Teacher's Lounge Blog

While much research has been conducted on learning disorders such as dyslexia, a lot is still unknown about dysgraphia, which is unfortunate since between 7% and 15% of students suffer from this problem. But what is dysgraphia and how can educators help students diagnosed with this disorder?

Like dyslexia, dysgraphia is not related to intelligence but is an unanticipated difficulty with writing and spelling skills that is usually discovered in primary or elementary school. It is characterized by:

  • Underdeveloped phonemic awareness and understanding
  • Challenges with correctly copying visual information
  • Unreadable handwriting
  • Inefficient grip on a writing implement
  • Incorrect spelling
  • Faulty letter formation
  • Below average writing fluency for the grade level

Students with this disorder are deficient in processing phonics and manipulating language sounds. Often, they also have issues with visual and auditory processing, as well.

Fortunately, there are ways you can support students with dysgraphia and help them to be more successful in the classroom without drawing attention to their disability.

  • Provide additional time to complete written work
  • Give students a copy of notes from the white or chalkboard
  • Permit students to use a “note taker” or tools for speech-to-text translation
  • Allow students to write numeric formulas rather than mathematic word problems

If you have a student who has not been diagnosed with dysgraphia, but you suspect that it could be an issue, recommend the child to your school counselor or testing center for evaluation. It may be possible for him to qualify for additional special education and occupational therapy resources, as well, which can only benefit him at school.

Learning more about dysgraphia and other learning challenges can help all children succeed at school and allows teachers the tools necessary to reach every student in the classroom.

To better prepare for working with students with disabilities, see our inclusion course.

Is Positive Reinforcement an Effective Strategy for Students with Learning Disabilities?

July 2nd, 2019 | Comments Off on Is Positive Reinforcement an Effective Strategy for Students with Learning Disabilities? | Inclusive Teaching, Teacher's Lounge Blog, Teaching Licenses

Although any child can exhibit behavior issues in the classroom, individuals with learning disabilities often have more conduct problems than their peers. Knowing that he has a learning disability sometimes causes a child to “act out” at home, in class, or other situations. Positive reinforcement is often used to help these students reach desired behaviors. Does it work?

Positive reinforcement, rather than negative reinforcement, can motivate students to stop acting in unacceptable ways. As part of an individually designed behavior intervention plan, positive reinforcement can be used to make specific changes to the environment to alter unwanted behavior. Where negative reinforcement usually involves some punitive discipline, positive reinforcement is a group of techniques that adults can use to aid students with behavior or academic issues to increase favorable behaviors.

Positive reinforcers aid students in learning behaviors necessary to have both social and academic success and increase targeted behaviors. While they are like a reward system, they are not just given one time as a “good job” type of prize. Positive reinforcement increases wanted behaviors over a specific period.

Positive Reinforcement Examples

Any consequence, reward, or action that increases the desired behavior for a particular student can be a positive reinforcer. It is important to get to know the child, as this provides clues as to what will work for the individual. What may be a great reinforcer for one child may not be a motivator for another. Privileges and rewards like free time, a snack, school supplies, books, gold stars, a note from the teacher, etc., can all be effective positive reinforcers depending on the child and his interests.

When Positive Reinforcement Doesn’t Work

Sometimes positive reinforcement doesn’t work to change student’s behavior. In these cases, other options may be necessary. It is important to note that if positive reinforcement doesn’t work, then negative reinforcement like taking away privileges or a coveted object like a cell phone may get better results.


PrepForward offers a course on teaching students with disabilities. For each disability, the course includes approaches for lesson planning, effective teaching, classroom management, assessment, strategies for outside the classroom, and technical support tools.

Are Teachers Adequately Prepared to Teach Exceptional Children?

June 11th, 2019 | Comments Off on Are Teachers Adequately Prepared to Teach Exceptional Children? | Certification Prep, Teacher's Lounge Blog, Teaching Licenses

Inclusion Course - Teaching Students with Disabilities

It is a rare elementary classroom, including those in the private sector, where all 15-30 students are of average capability. While the majority do fall within standard parameters, there are those who are both above and below that spectrum, whether due to learning disabilities like ADHD and dyslexia, autism spectrum disorders, emotional issues, or extraordinary intelligence that exceeds that of their peers.

Educators need to have the appropriate training and experience to handle the wide variety of learning abilities in the classroom to effectively reach all students in ways that work best for their requirements. This is a challenge that much of today’s teaching population faces and where many teachers fall short.

A report compiled by Understood.org and the National Center for Learning Disabilities reveals that just 30% of general education teachers strongly believe that they are adequately prepared to teach students with learning disabilities. Also, 1/3 of study participants have not had any professional development instruction on meeting the needs of students with disabilities in the classroom.

Many people believe that this problem stems from teacher education programs that lack a special education course requirement or, if such a class is offered, it does not provide enough “hands-on” work for teachers to feel comfortable teaching students with disabilities. Only ten states have specific teacher education courses for students that have mild to moderate learning disabilities (National Center for Learning Disabilities).

Since there is a lack of requisite options in most teacher education programs across the country, the burden to seek out adequate training lies with educators rather than with school districts and the schools themselves. A course like Prepforward’s “Preparing Teachers for Inclusive Classrooms” goes a long way to help teachers know what to expect and how to prepare for the exceptional child or children who may be part of their classes.

This online course focuses on the challenges that these students pose to an inclusive classroom environment and how the teacher can adapt strategies for meeting the individual needs of these students that include lesson planning, classroom management, and technical support tools as resources.

While many general educators feel that they are unprepared to work with children with disabilities, most want to learn more about how they can help all the students in their classrooms. With additional preparation through online and on-ground coursework and in-services, teachers can ease frustrations about meeting the needs of every student in their care.