Magazine Feature

Toolkit for 'Meeting Mathew'

This Teaching Tolerance magazine piece leads readers through the process of planning and conducting a disclosure meeting as a way of helping students relate to a peer with a hidden disability. Before doing that, however, teachers can benefit from looking more closely at their own relationship with such a student. This can help them empathize with the impatience and confusion the rest of the class might feel at times, while also acknowledging ways they can work with the student and his family in a more positive and productive way.

If you have a student who tests your tolerance, ask yourself the following questions:

What is it about this student’s behavior that tests my patience and tolerance?


In what ways do I let my negative feelings show to the student? To the rest of the class?


What have I done to find out the circumstances that might be influencing this disruptive behavior? What do I know about this student’s family life or medical history?


What strategies do I use when this student’s behavior disrupts the class or escalates into violence or other problems? How well have they worked?


How much one-on-one time do I spend with this student? What are the results for both of us?


What is my response to improvements in this student’s behavior, study skills and classroom work?


How can I adjust the tone of my classroom in response to this student’s behavior?


Your answers to these questions may help you better understand how you feel about the student and better prepare you to involve the student’s family and peers, as well as school administrators, in a disclosure meeting or other strategy.



The 411 on Disability Disclosure: A Workbook for Youth with Disabilities. This workbook is designed for young people and adults working with them who are trying to decide whether or not to disclose a disability. The complete workbook can be downloaded here.