How can I adapt my classroom (physical environment) to accommodate and support learners with emotional problems?
The book The Inclusive Classroom: strategies for Effective Instruction cites that the emotionally/behaviorally disabled (EBD) student needs a classroom environment where safety and security have to go hand in hand with acceptance and flexibility.
The first thing to consider is proximity. For this reason, the teacher must develop specific seating charts and make specific arrangements so that the EBD student is placed as close to the teacher as possible unless the Individualized Education Plan (IEP) states otherwise. Being in close proximity often aids some students feel safer and less threatened than if left far from the immediate periphery of the educator.
The second thing to consider is the removal of sharp, blunt, or small objects that may be used as weapons. The placement of items such as scissors, glue, sharpeners, even sharpened pencils and pens must be safeguarded. Depending on the magnitude of the behavior of the student, these objects should have limited access. Watch out for markers (fumes) or any other substances for Art, Life Skills and other courses that are not student-friendly.
Identify distractors as well as motivators. Avoid the first and make full use of the latter. Ensure that the classroom environment is conducive to tolerance and acceptance, and always opt for small group instruction based on level of competence and interest. Open rooms where students do not feel compromised to merely sitting down are always welcome. Make special emphasis on collective and individual feedback, and in having the student fully communicated with the rest of the class, with the teacher, his shadow teacher (if applicable) and every available part of the classroom.