As a part time adjunct, one of the hardest aspects of teaching is handling students with accommodations. There are legal ramifications you need to worry about, and sometimes you can unknowingly break the law.  You should have a blurb in your syllabus addressing student accommodations, and you should verify that it contains verbiage regarding documentation.

Unfortunately, you will have some students claiming they need an accommodation when they don’t.  Any student claiming they need any type of accommodation, should get official documentation from the specialized office of the college or university you are teaching.

In my first class of the semester, I will usually say the following “Any student that requires special accommodations, please send me an email, and we can discuss the matter privately”.  I am more of the idea of keeping things private, and not have it out in the open. There are some things you won’t be able to avoid, because of course some students will require note takers, or have a visible impairment, which won’t be private.

When you are speaking with students with special needs, you should be empathetic, but also don’t dive too deep into their situation.  You’re not a psychiatrist, and don’t claim to be.  You should avoid listening, because then you will be diving deep whether you like it or not. Always remember your job there is to teach, and nothing else.

To summarize:

  1. Special needs students must provide official documentation from the school
  2. Be as private as you can about your students with special needs.
  3. Never ever discuss information regarding a special needs students with other students
  4. If students complain regarding special treatment, you are not forced to answer.
  5. Don’t dive deep with the special needs student, which means stay the course as a teacher, and don’t change roles as a psychiatrist.


Hope you found this to be helpful, and I will continue to write more tips when starting out as an adjunct. Next topic will be what to do when you have a know it all in your class room.

Student Accommodations

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