Tips For Teaching Art To Students With Disabilities In A Group Setting

Posted May 16, 2015 @ 11:16am | by Danelle

If you are teaching a group of students with disabilities the challenge is to provide a quality art experience adapted to each individuals abilities, needs, and interests.  This requires creativity, quick thinking and the ability to experiment and think on your feet.  You are working with many different abilities and may not have specific information about your students.  While a one to one setting would be ideal it is still possible to provide an art experience.

Begin a lesson by demonstrating what you want your students to do.  Showing the action steps can bridge many communication or comprehension issues your student may have.  This keeps things concrete.  This process is all about observing, simplifying, and adapting.  Try presenting the first step of the project.  Have the students try it.  Observe which students seem to be able to do the step independently.  Observe which students seem to need some assistance.  Identify the ones that may need one to one assistance.  When I am teaching I think of them in these levels of support: the “independents”, the “middle level supports” and the “one to ones”.  This helps me know what level of support I need for each student as I get to know them more. 

Go ahead and introduce the next few steps.  Your more independent students will be able to move through these. I usually try to get them established first. This lets them be self directed and they get to independently create. 

Next help your students who need some “mid level” assistance get started.  While your independent students are working they do not have to wait and will not lose interest.  This group may just need you to help them get started.  You may need to break down your steps into more simple steps or concrete statements.  You can informally divide them into groups to make things easier while still keeping them in a group.

Continue on to your students who need one to one assistance and help them.  It may seem frustrating to keep some of these students waiting.  But, for these students many will just be happy to have your time and are willing to wait if it means someone will make the extra effort to help them find the way that works for them.  You may have to completely come up with an alternative way to alter or adapt your lesson.   As you are working monitor your students.  You will need to monitor and touch base with each one as they may need it.  This is a very active process.  You may feel like you are jumping around randomly but the more you do this the more you will observe and learn what your students need help with and when you can let them direct themselves more independently. 

Remember, not all of your students may be engaged and interested.  There are many factors that can come into play that are beyond your control.  It may feel frustrating that some of your students are not completely engaged.  As you are working with your students you will learn what works and what doesn’t.  It is a continuous process of experimenting, problem solving, and adjusting.


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