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Shake Up Special Education

Posted by Brian Spence on Feb 17, 2017 8:00:00 AM

Special Education, Behavioral HealthMost people have a favorite former teacher. Typically, these educators left their mark because they formed trusting relationships with their students and taught with genuine care. These educators taught in a way that built relationships and demonstrated interest in the lives of their students, not just their homework score. While schools are careful of physical touch, for obvious reasons, a handshake is a great way to create a connection and foster relationship.

If there was any doubt of the value of shaking hands in the classroom, this teacher is clearly building lasting relationships.

Teaching social skills in a special education classroom is often difficult, but very important. Lack of self-awareness, or of hidden social cues, can make learning these skills challenging for students with special needs. But teaching the specific skill of shaking hands, as a form of introduction and human connection, is a fantastic and necessary life skill. To effectively teach this skill, include each of the learning modalities: visual, kinesthetic, and auditory.

Visual: provide a handout with an outline of a hand. On each finger write one of the five points of shaking someone's hand:

  1. Smile
  2. Say their name
  3. Make eye contact
  4. Shake their hand
  5. Ask about the other person


Auditory: verbally review the handout with the students, asking them to repeat each step. Repetition in the classroom is key to retention, so having students verbally repeat the directions, over and over, will aid in memory retention.

Kinesthetic: have students partner up and practice shaking each other's hands, following the five steps in order. Again, use repetition to ingrain the skill. Allow and encourage students to practice repeatedly, while offering suggestions on improvement. Students should practice with each other, and the teacher, to mimic different social and professional settings.

As with any educational topic, the instructor should reiterate the value in learning the material. Understanding the reason behind what they are learning will help motivate students to work at learning a specific skill set.


Try "shaking" up your classroom by teaching this social skill. And if you are looking for job opportunities inside a classroom, please contact us.

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Topics: Behavioral Health, Education

Staffing Plus is a premier healthcare staffing firm that provides temporary, per diem, temp-to-hire and permanent Staffing Solutions for Behavioral Health, Education, and Healthcare settings. We have leveraged decades of experience to assist organizations with the challenges of managing their HR and Recruiting needs.