Teaching the Exceptional Student

Updated on August 1, 2019
Jacqueline4390 profile image

Jacqueline Williamson graduated with a BBA in Personnel Admin., an MPA in HR Management and an MS in Education. Jacqueline is also a teacher

Exceptional students require exceptional teachers with patience and dedication.
Exceptional students require exceptional teachers with patience and dedication.

To prepare prospective teachers to meet the needs of their students, teacher training programs typically provide instruction in such topics as how to identify students’ needs, interest, and learning styles, and what characteristics typically distinguish learners in a particular age group (e.g., adults or teenagers).

If you are going to have students with exceptional needs in your classes, you will need some additional knowledge, skills, and experience specific to the needs of those students.

  1. In order to accommodate the wide range of needs and abilities your exceptional students may have, you may need to act in roles that go beyond the simple provision of classroom instruction.
  2. You may need to review your attitudes, to ensure that they are appropriate for the success of your exceptional students.
  3. You may need to gain greater knowledge and experience concerning people who have exceptional needs in order to learn, for example, exactly how a deaf student can communicate in your classroom or laboratory.

This module is designed to give you skills in preparing yourself to serve your exceptional students.

Both teachers and students have evolved from how the "traditional vocational individual" was identified.
Both teachers and students have evolved from how the "traditional vocational individual" was identified.

Serving Students with Exceptional Needs

Traditionally, vocational teachers education programs have prepared teachers to provide instruction to students who supposedly had common characteristics. Judging from the content of vocational programs, you could have concluded that the following assumptions were true:

  • All students were white, middle-class, and American by birth.
  • Males were always in certain programs, females in others.
  • Students were of average intelligence and spoke English fluently.
  • Students were all teenagers or young adults.
  • Students were physically all alike—two arms, two legs, two eyes, two ears, all in proper working order.

Not all students in vocational education programs have been like this, of course. Students with different characteristics have always been in vocational education. Today, however, fewer and fewer students conform to this stereotype. Exceptional students have begun to enroll in vocational programs in increasing numbers.

Your Responsibility

Your responsibility as a vocational teacher is to provide instruction to all your students, including those with exceptional needs. In order to do so fairly and effectively, you must be able to accommodate their wide range of needs and abilities. You must be able to meet all those needs.


You can plan a program of professional development based on these steps:

  • Expand your concept of your role—you can ensure that your idea of what you should do, as a vocational teacher, includes all the responsibilities that you will have in serving exceptional students.
  • Review your attitudes—you can identify any attitudes you have that would hinder the success of exceptional students in your vocational program.
  • Gain greater experience—you can broaden your knowledge of exceptional persons and expand your experience in working with them. You can learn about their conditions and their chances for success in vocational education and in the world of work.

Meet with other teachers to examine their methods and strategy...
Meet with other teachers to examine their methods and strategy...

Expanding Your Concept of Your Role

It will be essential for you to fulfill several simple responsibilities in order to serve the exceptional students in your vocational program. As a teacher of exceptional students, you may need to act more frequently in roles that go beyond just providing vocational instruction. You may need to—

  1. Provide input into placement decisions.
  2. Serve in a counseling role.
  3. Help students develop basic skills.
  4. Provide flexible, individualized instruction.
  5. Provide essential first aid.
  6. Perform Administrative tasks.
  7. Teach both your subject and your students.
  8. Keep involved on an ongoing basis.

The Need to Gain Greater Knowledge, Skills, and Experience

Your next task, then, is to determine what additional knowledge, skills, and experience you may need. You will need to know—

  • The general characteristics of exceptional conditions.
  • What factors that may cloud identification.
  • Legislation and guidelines
    • Title IV of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination in vocational education settings on the basis of racial/ethnic origin or limited English proficiency.
    • Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 prohibits discrimination in vocational education settings on the basis of sex.
    • The Education of All Handicapped Children Act states that all handicapped children must be placed in the least restrictive environment possible in vocational education settings.
    • Section 504 on the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 prohibits discrimination on the basis of physical/sensory handicap or mental retardation.

You will also need to have—

  • A perspective on general characteristics.
  • A perspective on differences.

You will need to identify—

  • Evidence of success.
  • Occupational developments.
  • Burnout.

How to Gain Knowledge, Skills and Experience

  1. Consult reliable resources.
  2. Observe firsthand.
  3. Interact.

Concluding Comments

Teaching students with exceptional needs takes time, patience and experience. When you have all the information necessary to begin your vocation; you will be able to instruction these students in a safe environment. Don't assume that you possess all the qualified skills and expertise necessary to instruct your special students. Do your research and communicate with teachers who have similar expertise to continuous improve your proficiency in teaching your exceptional students.

Let's Put This Into Practice ...

Identifying Special Needs ...

Marsha is a student in your Word Processing Class. You have noticed how she seems to have difficulty keeping up with the assignments while the rest of the class is much further along in the lessons.

After further observations, you discover that Marsha also seems to have problems picking up pencils or other items she has dropped on the floor. You have identified that Marsha has problems with her hands - possibly arthritis.

What should be your next move?

Do you have sufficient training to meet the needs of your exceptional students?

See results

Questions & Answers

    © 2014 Jacqueline Williamson BBA MPA MS


      0 of 8192 characters used
      Post Comment
      • Jacqueline4390 profile imageAUTHOR

        Jacqueline Williamson BBA MPA MS 

        5 years ago from Memphis

        Preparing to teach exceptional students isn't quite as easy as it sounds. It takes a person with a lot of patients, a love for teaching and a true desire to help others.

      • Jacqueline4390 profile imageAUTHOR

        Jacqueline Williamson BBA MPA MS 

        5 years ago from Memphis

        "One size fits all" should not be your approach when creating Lesson Plans for your students. You can use an individualized approach without creating problems for yourself. Get to know your students and make teaching a JOY and not a CHORE!

      • Jacqueline4390 profile imageAUTHOR

        Jacqueline Williamson BBA MPA MS 

        6 years ago from Memphis

        Teaching exceptional students can be challenging yet rewarding. This is why instructors need systematic preparation. There is a wealth of information available on the Internet ... however, sharing experiences with coworkers can be much more beneficial.


      This website uses cookies

      As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, owlcation.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

      For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://maven.io/company/pages/privacy

      Show Details
      HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
      LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
      Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
      AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
      Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
      CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
      Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
      Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
      Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
      Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
      ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
      ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)