How Classroom Observations Can Help Identify A Learning Disability

When it comes to effectively educating their students, teachers have many challenges facing them in today's world. Never before have children in the public school system seem to have so many labels, diagnoses, and behavior issues. In fact, one in seven children in the United States has a developmental, mental, or behavioral disorder. For these reasons, teachers, school psychologists, and other leaders in education should take time to formally observe students who might benefit from receiving certain services that will help them.  

Classroom Observation

Classroom observations can lead to a child being tested for certain diagnoses or learning disorders that might impair their ability to learn or socialize. These types of observations can also be a way to analyze a child's behavior in order to help determine if that behavior is causing problems in the classroom.

During such observations, it can be helpful to fill out a classroom observation form. There are many types of classroom observation forms, but one in particular focuses on a child's social behavior and academic behavior as a way to determine if the presence or absence of certain behaviors requires them to have certain services, such as special education.

Social Behavior

Some examples of issues that might be included on a classroom observation form pertaining to social behavior include:

  • If the child socializes appropriately and at the appropriate time
  • If the child articulates well and is easily understood
  • If the child demonstrates emotions in an atypical manner
  • If the child seems anxious, withdrawn, or depressed
  • If the child is physically or verbally aggressive toward staff or other students
  • If the child follows classrooms rules

Other things to note when it comes to social behavior might include any cultural, socioeconomic, or environmental factors that are influencing the behavior.

Academic Behavior

Some examples of issues that might be included on a classroom observation form pertaining to academic behavior include:

  • If the child ask questions or elicits help
  • If the child follows directions
  • If the child grasps the material that is presented
  • If the child gets easily distracted and goes off-task or off-topic
  • If the child understands classroom routines
  • If the child shows any evidence of processing concerns, such as with memory or expression

Other things to note when it comes to academic behavior include how a suspected disability limits their learning opportunities.

If the student that is being observed has areas that there might be a mild or significant problem, that child may indeed have a learning disability for which they would need certain services.