Crossing the Bridge into General Education: Tips for Secondary Teachers

High school is an exciting time as all students make preparations for life after graduation. Students in general and special education develop and refine their interpersonal skills, explore interest areas, and acquire functional skills through varied experiences. In special education, one of our primary goals is to provide the teaching and support needed to help students access additional opportunities in the general education environment. All of our students are capable of accessing general education experiences, but what usually keeps them out? You guessed it…behavior! At the secondary level, behavioral challenges range from prompt dependency to running away from the building as soon as a work task is presented. Some teachers might feel tempted to keep their students with behavioral difficulties safely contained in their classrooms, but focusing on teaching functional behaviors that are applicable across multiple school environments is the better bet for successful student outcomes.

Once students have mastered discrete skills in a 1:1 setting, it is critically important to practice those skills in contexts that are purposeful and meaningful. The Links curriculum includes 52 Standard Routines that build in complexity and facilitate the generalization of skills. With our eyes on general education, several Standard Routines stand out as bridges to partial or full general education inclusion. Some of these include Attending a Schoolwide Activity (#9), Changing Activities between Locations (#17), and Listening in a Group Setting (#35). Of course, completing the Links Lesson Assessment will help you identify the skills that students need to generalize through functional routine teaching and practice.

Remember that you can customize routines for any student by modifying Standard Routines, creating custom routines, or modifying any custom or district routine. When creating your own routine, it is helpful to first identify the behaviors that you want your students to complete. Once you have that text, it becomes much simpler to identify the appropriate environmental set-up and cues needed to complete those steps. Print out your Observed Routine Assessment (ORA) form and collect data once per week. It’s often helpful to schedule times that data will be collected as well as who will be responsible for collecting it. Analyze your data to determine if certain skills need to be pre-taught, and/or if you need to build in reinforcement and additional environmental supports for difficult steps. Know your students’ reinforcers! If you notice that their motivation is starting to hit shaky ground, change up their reinforcers to bring back that bounce to their steps.

Don’t forget to peruse the Featured Routines tab to download simulation lesson plans, small group activities, behavioral supports, and much more. We are always working to add featured routine units for all Links users to utilize in their classrooms. Stay tuned for more resources available at the click of a button!

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