Classroom Management for Special Education Teachers

special education classroom teacherToday’s KISS – Keep It Simple Strategies – Classroom Management for Special Education teachers.

For discussion purposes, we’ll assume you are a Resource Room teacher at the Elementary level. You are that miraculous person that takes the challenged children each day for resource. Let’s face it, it is a tough job and it’s important to know how to manage the students and your classroom.

Set Rules and Discipline

To help you reach your goals and theirs, you can implement some simple tricks to manage your time. Here are some basic classroom rules to help keep bad behaviors under control:

  1. Students listen to each other.
  2. Students use caring language.
  3. Hands are for helping, and when in the hallway, hold your own hand.
  4. Students care about each other’s feelings.
  5. We all take responsibility for what we say and do.

The rules for behavior need to be posted in plain view, on a bulletin board where everyone can see it.

You can master class discipline without spending a cent. If you adjust your tone of voice, students will hear you. Record yourself over a couple of days; you’ll be amazed how you sound. Be sure you have a confident, deeper tone to your voice when disciplining. If there are acoustics problems in your class, you can consider investing in inexpensive speaker systems that will really make a difference.

Give your students choices when you are tempted to take away privileges of a misbehaving child. “I am going to give you two choices. You may choose to stop ____ (shouting, hitting, giggling), and work right now, or you can continue (shouting, hitting, giggling) _____ and work during your recess.” The child has to stop and think about his behavior, then make a logical choice. It’s always a show-stopper. You can also use a reward system, where if students display good behavior for the week, they will get a reward on Friday.

If you have one truly difficult child and all else fails, take him into a quiet corner of the room away from the other students, and call his parents. This is a nuclear option, but if the parents are at all engaged with discipline of this child, it will be very effective.

Organization is Key

It’s very important to be organized in your Special Education classroom. There are some great storage ideas out there, like using color coded folders and bins to keep instructional materials and assignments. Containers for reading materials, chapter books, and stories are great too. S&S has a great selection for storage. Keep things colorful and sturdy. You can also check out Miss Lulu’s blog on organization for Special Educators. One of the cutest storage ideas I’ve seen is a remnant of a white picket fence that was being used to hang backpacks. Since it’s a resource room, you don’t label the slats, but you can put children’s names on stickers to attach to the slats for different class periods. You can also read our blog with product ideas for an organized classroom.


There are some great videos on YouTube that you can look at for ideas on how other teachers solve problems. Type in “SPED Resource Room Management” into the search box and be amazed at the number of wonderful teachers who have stepped up to make videos from which we all can learn.

My new favorite sites are Pinterest and Youtube. They contain little packages of information to help me become a better teacher.

More resources for lesson planning and class management for Special Education:

Add your tips and suggestions to our growing lists, teachers helping teachers is a great way to go. Check out the rest of our KISS Series here.

Neva FennoNeva Fenno, M.S.Ed., MLIS, has been a special education teacher, school library media specialist, curriculum specialist and grants manager for several urban school districts in New York and Massachusetts for 30 years. As grants manager for 7 years, she managed up to $28,000,000 a year in federal, state, foundation and corporate grants from application through fiscal administration. She has hundreds of stories to tell, not all successes, but from each story there is a lesson to be learned.

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