Transitions during the day
Out of routine activities
Excursions and school camps
Assessments and homework
Safety drills and first aid
Some students with developmental challenges or disabilities might feel anxious or find it difficult to move between classes.
- Minimise the distance between classes/classrooms for students who have physical disabilities and allow them enough time to move between their classes
- A daily visual schedule can help students to prepare and plan for changes between rooms
- Create a supportive and positive classroom environment. Welcome students when they arrive to class, refer to them by name, and tell them what is planned for the lesson
- Pairing a student with a friend to move between classes can help them to feel more at ease
- Encouraging a student who has managed changes can encourage them
- Some students may be anxious about getting changed into their sports uniform. Consider reminding students of the change room rules and encourage positive behaviour. If getting changed is very difficult for a student, the teacher/school can let them wear their sports uniform to school on sports days. View AllPlay Learn’s story changing into my school uniform on our secondary stories page.
Changes in routine can be upsetting for a student with a disability, and an unknown teacher leading a session may be particularly upsetting. A student may adjust well to having a relief teacher if the relief teacher knows the specific routines and teaching tips that the usual classroom teacher uses.
- Consider letting students know beforehand about any out-of-routine activities and what the activity will involve. A visual schedule with the new changes may be helpful for some students.
- Assemblies or other large gatherings may worry some students. It may help to let them sit where they feel safe. This could be near a friend or towards the back of the room.
- Performing in front of others or receiving awards may make some students anxious. Consider asking the student what they are comfortable with.
- Allow a student to wear noise-reducing headphones if they are upset by the volume in assembly or other out-of-routine activities.
A trip away from school may present some challenges for students with disabilities. Consider providing a clear and detailed itinerary of camps and excursions to both students and their parents. This way everyone knows what to expect.
- Pairing students with friends on an excursion can help reduce anxiety
- Remind students who may feel overwhelmed or anxious to use any coping strategies that they have learned. These might be breathing deeply or finding a quiet space to calm down.
- Be ready to support and help students. For example, you may need to find a quiet place to sit with a student. Some students may need to take short breaks or rests. Consider planning the schedule and activities accordingly.
- Plan excursions in wheelchair accessible locations if relevant. Plan transportation accordingly
- Plan excursions with Braille or tactile signage if relevant. Venues which include audio guides, text-to-speech or engage other senses are great options. It is important to orientate a student who is blind or low vision to the new environment.
- Organise a personal care plan. Consider having trained staff ready to help any student who needs to take medication or needs help with toileting.
Assessment tasks and homework may need to be tailored for students with disabilities.
- Depending on a student’s disability or learning challenge appropriate modifications for assessment tasks may include—allowing a student to take breaks, allowing extra time or removing ‘timed’ components from a test, allowing a student to use a computer or answer orally, or allowing scribes and readers
- Some students may be anxious about sitting tests. It may be helpful to give them extra time beforehand to get to know the test setting and examiners.
- Breaking down homework tasks into smaller steps can help students who are anxious or who find organisation challenging
- Some students may find homework without help challenging. Consider what a student can complete independently when assigning homework.
- Asking parents to use a consistent homework routine at home can be helpful. This may involve doing homework in a distraction-free area at a set time.
Unexpected safety drills may upset some students. This can be made worse if there are crowds. Consider letting a student know beforehand that there will be a drill.
- Pair them with a friend. Noise-reducing headphones may help a student if they find the noise of the alarms upsetting.
- Some students may not know how to tell an adult if there is an emergency, or what to do in an emergency or emergency drill. Make time for demonstrating and practising what to do.
- Consider accessibility of evacuation points and procedures for students with mobility challenges
- Some students may be distressed by blood or bandages or refuse to have an ice pack or medication. Talk to the student or their parent to identify the best way to manage an injury/illness.
- For a student who is blind or low vision, talk aloud so they know what first aid is being applied
Students often need to access their lockers multiple times in a day. Locker areas can be noisy and crowded, and some lockers may be less accessible than others.
- Consider locker location and layout when assigning or planning lockers. If a student finds noise levels or crowds distressing, a locker located on the end, or within a smaller locker area, may be more suited to them.
- If a student uses a wheelchair or other mobility supports, determine an accessible height and location. Provide a locker close to where classes are held.
- A locker located near student support staff or a trusted teacher may be beneficial to students who experience anxiety, or who can benefit from support with their organisation
- Locker organisation strategies may be important for students who find organisation challenging. Consider printing AllPlay Learn’s locker checklist from our secondary teacher resources page
It is important to look after your own health and wellbeing. Self-care is considered an important professional learning activity for teachers. Engaging in self-care practices means that you regularly practise activities in all aspects of your life that lower your stress and help you manage your emotional, physical and mental health. Some ideas to consider practising are:
- staying physically active throughout the day (e.g. go for a short walk at lunchtime and exercise before or after work)
- taking breaks
- setting up a peer-support group
- finding a mentor or more experienced colleague to discuss work with
- engaging in professional training
- asking for help when you need it
- celebrating small and big successes and milestones (yours, and your students’)
- meditation, mindfulness and relaxation techniques
- keeping a non-work hobby
- making time to be with friends and family
- For more resources on mental health in the workplace, visit https://www.headsup.org.au/
AllPlay Learn stories
AllPlay Learn secondary stories have been designed for students to help them to find out about what happens at school and to feel positive about responding to new situations. Teachers can use these stories with students to help them feel confident about participating in all school activities.