When working as a SPED educator, it’s important to remember that everyone has something of value to say, even if that person cannot speak. Assuming a person who can’t talk has nothing to say is like assuming an adult without a car has no place to go. In this blog, we’ll be talking about how educators can better utilize a student’s preferred communication modality.
The 3 Keys
The 3 keys to social communication are: honor the mode of communication, respect the student, and be student-centered. Starting with honoring the mode, it’s critical to have a reliable and consistent form of communication. Making sure your student’s device is charged and always available and that you have a backup is key to this idea. When SPED educator Ayo Jones was just starting out in her teaching career, she had a student with a voice output device. When the speech therapist came and asked her where it was, she had to admit that it was in the closet with no charge. This is not honoring the student’s mode of communication and could put your students at a severe disadvantage in their education journey. This is also an example of not respecting the student.
It’s important to remember that students are equal members of the classroom and that they deserve respect. They should be spoken with and not at. This step is all about student control. Students with disabilities deserve to have some control over their world and not be passive in their own lives. To incorporate this into your lesson plan, you’ll want to teach students more than just requests. Teach them ways to comment, reject, direct action, and share thoughts as well as wants and needs. Your teaching methods must be student-centered.
Educators can start being student-centered by coaching their team in the best ways to effectively improve social communication and guide interactions. Make sure they speak directly to the student, even if a student isn’t able to respond back in a conventional way, and then give the student time to respond. Once the student responds in their preferred communication mode, it’s important to accept it in the way it was given. Whether a student responds through sign, writing, or speaking, make sure it’s accepted, even if you’re addressing academic standards that are different from their preferred mode of communication.
Taking the next step
Communication is a crucial process that every teacher should put time into mastering. It helps students convey their feelings to their educator and to the world around them. SPED educator Ayo Jones knows this, and that’s why she created this course. You’ll get an in-depth look at the best ways to establish communication with your students and how to help your team find opportunities to better their communication with students.
The course, Quality Indicators in SPED — Social Communication, was designed to help educators who are having trouble establishing communication throughlines with their students.
In this 45-minute course from Noodle Nook, you’ll have a better understanding of:
- Honoring the mode
- How to be respectful of students’ communication methods
- Coaching others in social communication
- How to find opportunities for social communication
- How to be student-centered