Social Opportunities in general education are key to our students’ success. Many times our students within special education need help to navigate complex social situations.
Tip # 1: Morning Meetings
Mornings can be so busy, but it is also the time of day that students can have unstructured social interactions. Make sure that your students have a place in gen ed to unpack or complete morning work. This gives both the general education students and students who may spend most of their say in a small group setting a sense of community. I personally like to make sure they have a desk in their “homeroom” and participate in morning work, announcements, and daily morning meetings.
Tip #2: Fun Activities that Align to Curriculum
Many times we can get into a routine of being solely responsible for our student’s curriculum and exposure to the standards. It can be super stressful to force academics in an environment in which a student is performing multiple grade levels below their peers.
Communicate with the large group teacher to collaborate on opportunities for social integration. Some examples include: science experiments, classroom parties, and PBL Group Projects. Many times the gen ed teacher may not think to tell you what is going on so make it a part of your routine to advocate for your students and find out what is happening within the general ed curriculum!
Tip #3: Reverse Inclusion
Reverse Inclusion is my absolute favorite way to foster positive social interactions. Start with working with colleagues to determine which students would be a good fit. Sometimes it is the leaders in the class, but more often than not it is a student who struggles with behaviors in the gen ed who become the best peers. These students often “work” to earn coming into the classroom and they are so excited to be helpful and successful.
I like to invite students from general education into the small group classroom for activities like cooking, social skills, group work, and also during centers. While at centers the students visiting will hang in the library center or other independent centers to help the students stay on track and engaged.
Lastly! If you choose to do reverse inclusion check out some of my favorite products that help to foster positive social interactions in the small group OR when working with general education peers!
*Visuals are perfect to keep your students on track when social interaction can be stressful! Click here to check Visuals for Special Education Classrooms*
*Allowing peers to help with a classroom business is also a great way to have positive peer models as well as natural social opportunities- Check out my coffee cart product here*
*Vocational tasks are a super fun way to work on vocational tasks and work together as a team- I love the Sandwich Shop Order Up! Check it out here!