What is a 504 Plan? A 504 Plan is for individuals that do not qualify for special education or specialized instruction, but still need accommodations for a disability that hinders their learning.
I just wrote a silly, teacher-tip type of post about 504 Plans and my experience learning about them and accommodating for students in my classroom. To read it, and for a good laugh, click here.
In my current placement at Mason City High School, I have 4 students with 504 Plans. These are a few of the ways I accommodate for learners:
- My student with ADHD and anxiety needs extended deadlines on assignments, more time to read and complete tests/quizzes/readings, and paper copies of all assignments.
- Another student with a 504 needs paper copies of all assignments, multiple explanations of assignments/projects, and extended time on major tests.
If I’ve learned three things in working with 504 Plan students, it’s that as a teacher I have to:
- Find out as much as I can about these students’ programs so that I can best assist them and know how to plan my instruction.
- Communicate with the parents, the student, and other special education teachers/advisors who may know more about the plan than I do so that I can be informed. Getting student feedback is essential. Some of the conversations I had with my 504 students were eye-opening. I learned about the anxieties or stress students were feeling over certain expectations and assignments. It helped me to be more mindful of my teaching methods.
- And finally, I have to stay informed. Plans can change and students can feel different ways at different points in the year. If I keep updated on their Plans and check in with them frequently, they will hopefully stay on track without feeling overwhelmed.
I also learned that sometimes, sadly, 504 Plans can become a crutch for some students. I’ve really tried to encourage and push my students to not feel limited by their Plans. If they are able to meet the deadlines of their peers, then I push them to do it! I want to encourage my students and be supportive of their differences, but I also don’t want to baby them. If I continue to find a happy medium, my students will have a successful, well-differentiated year!