We all know that it is very important for our students to socialize with general education students. But how do you create peer interactions in the Special Education Classroom if the students are unable to go to lunch or to an inclusion class?
In my classroom we accomplish this on several different levels. Most of my students participate in Best Buddies of Tennessee. Participating students are paired with a general education student. Best Buddies requires weekly contacts to ensure that their friendship is growing. Therefore, I have a lot of peers coming during their lunch time or study hall time to hang out with my students. They play boardgames, do puzzles, and sometimes just talk to each other. Many times they come in and eat lunch with each other. It all depends on the preferences of each pair. I am actually a Best Buddies sponsor and the students participating are truly amazing. Click on the link for more information.
In addition, our school offers a class that prepares students to be future educators. I partnered with that classroom and they send students to me that observe, interact, and later teach partial lessons. In the beginning I was uncertain about the extra bodies in my already packed classroom. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized what an amazing opportunity I had with this. The peers are able to see that my students are not scary. They learn that we don’t just sit around and watch movies. We are constantly learning. The general education students have the opportunity to get to know my students. They interact with each other and my students absolutely love it.
When walking through the halls to get to the lunchroom, or while taking a walk, my students get high fives and fist pumps (yes, no HUGS in HIGH SCHOOL, but that is another story). This makes them feel like they are a part of the school. It is so much fun to watch my students being accepted as what they are: Amazing Human Beings.