General Teaching Strategies

General Teaching Strategies for Student with Disabilities

  • Pay attention to the student's learning style and know your own learning style (when you become frustrated while teaching you will revert to teaching/tutoring in the style in which you learn - which is not necessarily the way the student learns).

  • Within reason, give the student plenty of time to process information.

  • Teach in a non-distracting environment that is well lighted; be sure to check for both auditory and visual distractions.

  • Present information in small, manageable steps.

  • Give practical, "real world" examples.

  • Experiment with large print (use a copy machine to increase the size).

  • To check comprehension, ask student to paraphrase information presented.

  • Restate information differently (if it doesn't confuse the student).

  • Prepare the student for changes in routine.

  • Show information in a multitude of different ways (use text, pictures, graphic organizers, etc.).

  • Use technology ("talking" calculators and spell checkers, graphing calculators and computers).

  • Discuss vocabulary words before working from any textbook.

  • Use highlighting to make specific passages or items stand out.

  • Have student read/sign to you. If student is signing, an interpreter will voice what is being said by the student.

  • Discuss review questions.

  • Have student take notes while you read instructions/directions, etc.

  • Pay attention to the student (when he/she seems to be getting frustrated, stop, take a break and then have the student describe for you what is frustrating him/her).

  • Model effective and efficient study skills for the subject you teach.

  • Remember the student is responsible for his/her success or failure, not you.

  • Do not let students monopolize your time discussing personal concerns or issues.

  • Allow students to do their own work and not manipulate you into doing things for them.

  • Know the telephone numbers and locations of the Nurse and Campus Police at your campus.

Teaching Strategies for Students with Learning Disabilities and/or Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD/ADHD)

  • State the objectives of the teaching session (what will be covered during the lecture/lab session) before you start teaching.

  • Provide clear structure ( "first we'll work on math, then we'll change to..., and finally, we'll review what we've done today").

  • At the end of the lecture or lab session, review what you have accomplished; better yet, ask the student to review it and remind the student of anything he/she has not included.

  • Make eye contact frequently. This helps in maintaining attention and in encouraging participation.

  • Explain information in a precise way, never be vague.

  • Break learning down into small, highly visible, sequential steps.

  • Never make assumptions about what the learner knows or should know.

  • Present instructions/directions one step at a time, and teach only one topic at a time.

  • Try to think of mnemonic devices or "tricks" to help the student memorize new strategies, processes and/or rules.

  • Verbalize your thinking process so student can hear and see the process of how to process information.

  • Be careful of the words and phrases you use to motivate a student. Words like: easy, simple, etc. are judgment calls as are phrases like: everybody can do this or you will have it done in no time... think how the student would feel if those words and phrases proved to be wrong for him/her.

  • Tutoring the student in a one-to-one session may be the only way to teach some students - small group interactions may be just too distracting or embarrassing for them.

  • Be flexible and willing to try different methods of teaching to meet the student's needs.

  • Simplify language, but not the content by using pictures, charts, maps, graphs, diagrams, etc.

  • Remember that emotions are an important part of learning - ask the student what makes them frustrated during a lecture or lab session and plan strategies that will help ease the student's frustration.

  • Help each student break assignments and projects into small, manageable parts; this helps the student feel less overwhelmed.

  • Use colored chalk, pens, pencils, pieces of paper, etc. for emphasis and to maintain the student's focus when teaching.

  • Assist student to outline ideas - no matter how short; organization is crucial.

  • Aim for quality not quantity.

  • Praise all advancement no matter how small.

  • Use terms and vocabulary in context to convey greater meaning.

  • Provide direction/instruction in as many different ways as possible (written, spoken, illustrated, demonstrated, etc.).

  • Paraphrase key points of the lecture or lab session, better yet, have the student do the paraphrasing.

  • Provide examples and identify things that are not examples.

  • Use lots of "white space" when writing or working problems.

Remember, not only is patience a virtue - it can also be the single most important teaching/tutoring strategy you can use when working with students with learning disabilities and/or attention deficit disorder (with or without hyperactivity)!

Teaching Strategies Students who are Deaf

Provided by TCC's Resource Center for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing

  • Maintain line of sight.

  • Use a natural speaking voice and pace.

  • When the student is using an interpreter or speech to text captioning, direct comments and questions to the student.

  • Distribute handouts to interpreters and captionists.

  • Allow time for students to look at handouts or other visual aids before making comments.

  • Provide adequate lighting.

  • Use captioned videos.

  • Allow for time delay when using interpreters or speech-to-text captioning so deaf students have an opportunity to answer questions and participate in discussions.

  • Use visual aids.

  • Restate information as needed.

Contact the Resource Center for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing for other suggestions or strategies

Teaching Strategies for Students who are Hard of Hearing

  • Speak in a natural voice and pace.

  • Face the student.

  • Keep hands away from face when you are speaking.

  • Use visual aids.

  • Do not continue to lecture when your back is turned.

  • Use captioned videos.

  • Keep in mind students may do just fine face to face, but not be able to understand you in group settings.

Communicating with students who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing who use Sign Language Interpreters:

  • Make sure you have the student's attention before communicating directly to him/her.

  • Look and talk directly to the student, not the interpreter when interacting;

  • Speak at a normal rate and volume.

  • All deaf people do not lip read but they do depend on your facial expressions and body language to convey the message.

  • Most people understand less than 50 percent of information when they lip read alone.

  • Be aware of lighting in the classroom. Low lighting, windows behind the speaker and back lighting often make it difficult to see clearly.

  • Do not over emphasize your speech. Lip reading is best when the speaker talks naturally.

  • Repeat questions from the audience. The interpreter or student who lip reads may not have been able to understand from their vantage point.

  • It is appropriate when communicating one on one to ask if the information is understood. If not, then explaining in a different manner or point of view maybe helpful. Making office hour appointments or use of e-mail to explain concepts is suggested.

  • Use of the board and other visual aids such as power point are useful.

  • Students who are hard of hearing, depending on the severity of the hearing loss and life experience, have differing skills in the area of writing and comprehension of the English language.

Interpreters accompany the student to facilitate communication. They are not responsible for the student's attendance, work ethic or actions.

Communicating with students who are deaf or hard of hearing who use a C-Print Real Time Captioner:

A Real Time C-Print Captioner is a trained professional with specialized equipment to facilitate and ensure that deaf or hard of hearing students have access to the spoken word.

How does this accommodation work?

  • Verbal interactions and presentation of information is taken down by the captionist on a court reporting machine that interfaces with a software program on a Laptop computer.

  • Accommodation provided by the C-Print Captionist is marginally delayed as it is processed through the related software technology.

 Is there a special way to work with this accommodation?

  • Allow time for the student to respond to questions as they need time to read what others have heard before replying.

  • Speak directly to the student rather than the captionist so your communication will reflect that you're directly addressing the student.

  • Listen attentively and wait for the student to finish speaking/responding before making further comments to allow the student time to read your response.

 Does the captionist have specific needs?

  • The captionist will need to be seated directly beside the student.

  • Whenever possible provide the captionist with course terminology in advance as this helps to build a dictionary and promote accuracy in providing the accommodation.

Captioned Media

Displaying Closed Caption Media in Classrooms

Contact the Media Department on the campus where you teach, or the Global Help Desk number at 918.595.2000.

Teaching Strategies for Students with Psychiatric or Psychological Disabilities

  • Be consistent in expectations and standards for each classroom session.

  • Provide a structured environment with a routine the student can learn and expect each time he/she comes to class.

  • Reinforce desired behaviors.

  • Provide concrete examples of what is expected of the student.

  • Give clear, concise, simple directions and instructions.

  • Avoid overloading the student with too much new information at one time.

  • Allow student extra time to work on assignments, or at their own pace within reason.

  • Eliminate all unnecessary distractions.

  • Watch nonverbal communications - both the student's and yours.

  • Pay attention to the student's frustration level - let the student take a break before he/she "shuts down."

Remember, you are the instructor - if the student has other concerns or wants to discuss personal issues, refer him/her to the appropriate individuals on campus.

Teaching Strategies for Students with Visual Disabilities

  • Face the student when speaking.

  • Verbalize the content printed in the textbook being used, on worksheets, on the board, etc.

  • If useful to the student, use large size print for all handouts or when working with the student.

  • Use "talking" calculators and spell checkers.

  • Use graph paper (no smaller than one-half inch) to align numbers.

  • Once the furniture in the classroom space is arranged - do not move it. If you must move the furniture, take a few minutes before class to orient the student with the visual disability to the new set up.

  • Don't be afraid to use words such as look, see, etc.

  • If student utilizes a guide dog do not pet the dog without asking the student's permission first. The dog is working; petting the dog will take him/her out of work mode which can cause injury to the student.

Do not yell at a student who is blind - he/she can hear.

Teaching Strategies for Students with Physical Disabilities

  • Those who use wheelchairs, braces, crutches, canes, or prostheses, or who fatigue easily, find it difficult moving about - occasional lateness to class may be unavoidable, but don't let it become a habit.

  • Consider whether physical access to the classroom space is a problem before the student arrives for the first class session.

  • Be prepared to rearrange the classroom space if its current setup in not accessible.

  • If a classroom table (or computer table) is not high enough for a student using a wheelchair, be prepared to request a wheelchair accessible desk from the Education Access Center.

Let the student pick where he/she wants to sit in the classroom.

Teaching Strategies For Students with Speech Disabilities

  • Patience is the most effective strategy.

  • Do not hesitate to let the student communicate in writing when necessary.

  • Permit the student the time he/she requires to express him/herself, without unsolicited aid in filling in gaps in his/her speech.

  • Don't be reluctant to ask the student to repeat a statement.

  • One-to-one tutoring may be necessary for some students.

  • While waiting for the student to find a word or to complete a statement, maintain comfortable eye contact and posture with the student.

  • Address the student naturally and in your regular speaking voice - don't assume that he/she cannot hear or comprehend because he/she has a speech disability.


Adapted from materials developed by the Disability Resource Center. Salt Lake Community College.