Patrick Dwyer | Addressing the Specific Needs of Students

Patrick Dwyer | Addressing the Specific Needs of Students

 Poverty and Disability: Addressing the Specific Needs of Students by Patrick Dwyer of Merrill Lynch

It’s vital for every teacher to understand that each student in their classroom is unique, says Patrick Dwyer of Merrill Lynch. The more observable differences include sex, complexion, height, and the like. It’s often what isn’t obvious. However, that can have drastic effects on the student’s academic performance. The educator must, therefore, give due attention to the struggling student’s specific needs to ensure they get the most out of their schooling.

The teacher will encounter students with a variety of needs. However, Patrick Dwyer will focus on two factors that, if not addressed properly, can radically isolate a student in the classroom: poverty and special needs.


As Patrick Dwyer has observed, students from poor homes are more likely to experience difficulties in school compared to those from moderate to high-income families. Teachers should anticipate such students issues like struggles to understand explanations and verbal directives, and the lack of preparation for the learning process and the social expectations of educators and peers.

The following tips should help teachers address the needs of poor students’:

1. Establish a trusting relationship with the student and instill in them the notion of school as a safe place.

2. Motivate them by emphasizing their potential to become positive contributors to society.

3. Ensure the availability of additional classroom materials and supplies.

4. Provide them with clear, step-by-step procedures.

5. Discuss with them their problems and solutions and have them partner up with students who can do the same for them.

6. Encourage them to help others, and themselves by practicing motivational self-talk and setting achievable goals for themselves.

Special needs

Some students will have physical, developmental, behavioral, emotional, or sensory issues that can impair their capacity to learn. To identify special needs students, Patrick Dwyer suggests reviewing various information sources, such as standardized tests, school records, classroom observations, and other teachers’ reports. The teacher should then discuss with special education teachers the students’ needs to formulate a plan on how to accommodate them.

Patrick Dwyer suggests the following considerations when addressing the needs of such students:

1. Identify the student’s specific condition and review all information about it. This way, the teacher will know how exactly to address the said condition. For example, a student with ADHD will benefit from the 504/IEP classroom modification, while a visually impaired student will gain from the ARD/IEP set up.

2. Prioritize the student and their abilities, not their disability.

3. Ensure the student understands they are a contributing member of society.

4. Don’t sensationalize the student or their condition. Avoid words such as “retarded” and “crippled with,” and instead use appropriate terms to refer to them and their needs.

Patrick Dwyer stresses the importance of recognizing the differences in students. By putting students first, teachers can ensure for them a positive and rewarding educational experience.