Taking the Special out of Special Education

I teach special education to elementary school children.  They have their own individual education plan (IEP) that differs from the curriculum their peers study.  They, and the class, are well aware of this especially since I am frequently obliged to withdraw children from the regular classroom. The youngest children I work with on average are 7 years old but I do work with children as young as 6.  By 7 children are painfully aware they are different and not in a good way. Their peers are also well aware that students who are withdrawn from the classroom are getting “extra help” because school is “hard” for them. Watch Special Education Teaching: Teaching Students to Accept Special Education Teachers

School is a challenge for everyone, otherwise how will children learn?  It is the concept of withdrawal from classrooms when this is not always necessary as well as labels that concern me.  For instance when a teacher is teaching, say, a math lesson in probability the class and the special education child are all learning this particular lesson.  The special education child has a considerably modified (easier) curriculum with lowered expectations. That being the case why not include the special education teacher into the regular classroom instead of withdrawing the “special” child? The special ed teacher can work with the student within the regular classroom just as easily as in the special ed office. Watch what are learning disabilities?

Schools try to make this happen for their special students. They do make the effort but continually I encounter odd situations where students are withdrawn during a language arts lesson to study math with the special ed teacher.  What?  Why not dovetail the two subjects so the child be included in the classroom with the assistance of the special ed teacher?  Sometimes scheduling is an issue for the teacher however when I was a regular classroom teacher one thing I noticed at the start of the year is that no special education teacher approached me to coordinate our curriculum schedules. At that time I was unaware that special ed teachers had the authority to do this, and since then I approach all of the teachers I will be working with during the year to try and coordinate our schedules. Read Special Education Inclusion

Inclusion is fair.  Inclusion prohibits embarrassment and develops a higher self-esteem in students. Clearly children whose learning issues are strong or severe cannot be included in the classroom. They require an intensive one on one with the special ed teacher so as not to be distracted by the rest of the classroom, but I am not referring to those students. The students who are slightly to moderately substandard in their learning deserve as much inclusion as possible. Treating them like everyone else rather than “special”, an unfortunate lable that everyone knows means “learning difficulty”, may even result in higher report card grades.  High self-esteem is proven to be a positive consequence as it relates to learning. Watch Special Education Teaching: Inclusion in the Classroom

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