Teacher's Tip Sheets

Listen up! Our mentor teachers share their teaching tips based on years and years of experience.


  • Break down lessons into small chunks. Test those pieces of information with a small daily quiz. This lets students build up self-esteem day after day. When students feel good about themselves they come to school more often. They will learn more.
  • Use visual aids to help anchor verbal concepts.
  • Teach children to visualize when they listen or read. Help the child get a picture of the concept in his or her head. That way s/he can refer back to the picture anchor to write or tell a story, or to follow directions.
  • Teach vocabulary and writing skills with diagrams and a cue schema. There are many different ways of doing this. For example, it is Halloween season. A child could list ten words that go with Halloween. These could serve as cue words to write a story. Or the teacher could use spider graphics or a similar graphic organizer to help students structure concepts needed to write a story, such as characters, places, descriptions, etc.
  • Restate or summarize the lesson often. Provide outlines of important points, or audio tapes of printed material.
  • Use alternative methods of assessment (i.e. oral presentations, picture responses, charts and graphs).
  • Teach study skills. Never assume that a student knows how to study appropriately (oral repetitions, mnemonics, organizers and outlines).
  • Give preliminary tests several days before a real test. Knowing what to expect is crucial for students with special needs.
  • Teach students about multiple intelligences and the different ways of being smart. Use questionnaires, surveys, and class discussion.

Classroom management

Classroom management can be challenging, and many students with learning disabilities exhibit behavior problems, either as a result of their disability or to distract from it. We gathered some of our favorite classroom management tips to help you provide structure and consistency for your students. Try some of these ideas – your students will thank you!

  • Assign preferential seating for students who need closer proximity to the teacher.
  • Reinforce appropriate behavior (catch them being good).
  • Try to state everything positively. For example, instead of stating that we will not curse, tease or taunt classmates, remind students that mounds of compliments cannot replace even one insult. Explain that we will only use kind words with one another in the classroom.
  • Use cues to communicate reminders (i.e. stating their name within a sentence or phrase, clapping your hands together and saying, "Okay, let's go on"). You can also establish private cues with individual students, like discreetly tapping on their desk or pulling on your ear. This will remind the student to refocus without calling him out.
  • Set limits in your classroom and provide a firm, structured, nurturing environment with consistent routines.
  • Reduce distractions whenever possible. Play classical music or soothing nature sounds to drown out hallway noise, draw the blinds to minimize window gazing.
  • Teach relaxation techniques like deep breathing, visualization.
  • Teach students to stop and think as a problem solving strategy.
  • Allow a student to fiddle with small object (eraser, pen cap) as this may help with focusing.
  • Use colored overlays, if helpful, over reading materials.
  • Be proactive. Directly teach and coach social skills (appropriate conversational skills, maintaining eye contact, body language messages, nodding) and use cooperative learning to reinforce these necessary skills. Allow time and practice for these skills to develop.
  • Bring about an awareness of disabilities to all students through literature, hands-on work stations, and role play.
  • Empathize with students when they are frustrated or having a problem.
  • Use humor whenever possible, but never at a child's expense!

Tips from: Gibbs, Bland Stewart, Kinane, Ebel