Self-Monitoring Strategies for Students

Oftentimes students in special education need support with self-monitoring and we have to teach them how to self-monitor, that is – help them to monitor self expressions and behaviors. Students may have excessive energy, a hard time focusing, or trouble controlling their movement during class.

As special education teachers, our job is to help support those students by giving them strategies that they can use to be successful in and out of the classroom.

Self-Monitoring Strategies for Students

But what are those strategies and how can we introduce them to our classrooms? Let’s break it down!

Strategies for Self-Monitoring

When I was teaching I had a super bright student in my class who was diagnosed with ADHD. Like many children with his diagnosis, self-monitoring was a real challenge – especially during large group time!

Thankfully, we were able to give him some strategies to help him self-monitor and re-focus. While there was no “fix”, the self-monitoring strategies definitely helped him realize what he was doing, gave him the ability to move how he needed to move, and allowed him to focus his attention on the lesson at hand.

If you have a student with ADHD or similar self-monitoring challenges, these ideas might help!

1 – Use Flexible Seating

Flexible seating is a must for students who have trouble self-regulating their movement. Even during large group instruction, have alternate seating options. Be sure to set ground rules for using the different seating areas and options, but allow students to use what works for them.

Errand runner student job for students who need to get up and move around.
Click photo to see original post on Instagram.

2 – Give the Student a Job

I absolutely love this option, because it gives your student something to focus on and do while still engaging in the lesson. It could be the job of holding the picture book as it’s read aloud to the class, observing and recording something (i.e. – I would like you to make a tally mark for each time I say the word “like”.) or counting how many times a character appears in a story. The job itself is just the strategy so it doesn’t matter what it actually is.

3 – Use Fidgets

For some students, fidgets are a lifesaver and for others, they just lead to further distraction. Understanding your student’s comfort level with them will help you to decide whether or not they’re a good self-monitoring strategy. They could consist of anything from a squishy ball to bands on chair legs that the student can use to bounce or wiggle.

See my favorite fidgets here.

4 – Move It!

Before starting any whole-class instruction time, I love beginning the time with some movement. Brain breaks are important for all students, not just those in special ed, so dance parties, jumping jacks, push-ups, or running in place are all great ways to help students get out some of that pent-up energy so that they can concentrate on the upcoming lesson.

Musical Brain Breaks are my favorite of all time. See them here.

5 – Rethink the Lesson Time

Students with ADHD and related diagnoses may find it difficult to focus for long periods of time. So, while that 35-minute whole group lesson would get everything covered, it may not be the most effective way to help all of your students learn. Instead, focus on shorter lessons that cover smaller amounts of material. If that’s not an option, break up the long lessons with frequent movement breaks. Not only will it help your students who are trying to self-monitor, but it will also help all of your students.

Screenshot 2023 05 10 at 10.54.50 AM

Learning self-monitoring strategies will help your students succeed throughout their school career. Even though it may be challenging to get them to concentrate on a lesson at first, when they become proficient at monitoring their own behavior and regulating it, you may find that they are some of your favorite students of all.




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