The beginning of a school year is a great time to introduce more visuals to your class.
Many of us use post-its to remind ourselves of what we need to remember to do or what we need to remember to bring with us. Visuals serve the same purpose for our students – a gentle reminder of routines and expectations. With basics routines and expectations posted with visuals there is more mental energy left for unexpected or deeper level thinking.
Maybe you could write yourself a note on a post-it to remind yourself to make a few more visuals
Sometimes we get frustrated when we have to repeat the same information over and over again. This can be especially true when it comes to having students remember to bring along the supplies they will need for the next activity.
When it is time to go to gym class, does your student constantly forget to bring his or her gym bag or gym shoes? When they show up for class in the morning have they forgotten to bring a pen with them or their text book? This is a great opportunity to use visuals.
Create a visual list of supplies to remind your student what to bring with them. Post it in their locker, in their binder or on their visual schedule. It is highly likely that forgetting these items is also frustrating for your student. Visuals can help reduce frustrations for both of you.
When students behaviour starts to escalate become aggressive or violent it can be difficult to remain calm. Visuals can help your communication remain calm, at the very least. Visuals also allow communication to continue while also giving the student the space they may need to self-regulate and start to calm themselves.
When a student is calming down it is often difficult to know when you can start communicating with them without re-triggering behaviour. Visuals can be a less threatening way to get your message across without aggravating the situation by talking too soon or getting too close. Make up visuals reminding the student what self-regulated behaviour looks like (quiet voice, calm body and hands). Add visuals of strategy options for calming down (walk to the water fountain, count to ten, sing a song in your head, take long, slow breathes). For some students, visuals about how to re-enter the classroom or support room can help (enter room quietly, join others with what they are doing, raise your hand for help).
Whenever you catch yourself (or others) repeating the same thing over and over or getting louder and/or closer to try to get your point across, it is a good time to consider visuals. Even if you find yourself slowing down often to get your message across, you might want to consider using visuals. All of these communication patterns can be highlighting the fact that the person to whom you are speaking has trouble processing spoken language. Visuals might be more effective and more respectful.
This visual was created by my friend and Education Assistant extraordinaire, Lynne-Mari. It beautifully sums up one of the main benefits of using visuals.
We can get frustrated at times when we know that our students have heard the words we are saying and yet are not responding to them as we feel they should. It can help to remember that just because a student is able to hear your words, does not guarantee the student has processed your words. Visuals help increase the chance that our message is understood – not simply heard.