Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Inclusion 101 - Day 1

So it's springtime, at least in most places around the country... some of us still have snow in our forecast... *ahem*... and like every year, for many parents of kids with special needs, spring means IEP time. I usually try to touch on this topic at least a little bit every year and you can read my past posts here. This year I would like to hear back from you parents out there and get some feedback about what inclusion looks like for you... while I'm doing that though, I'm going to share some ideas that are in this book, "Don't We Already Do Inclusion?" that I think are wonderful!! I hope you'll find them helpful, too! :) I look forward to hearing your thoughts and feedback on this next series whether you are a parent (even if you don't have a child with special needs), educator, or just a blog reader who finds these posts interesting. ;)

One of the big myths about inclusion is that if a child with special needs is in the classroom, the teacher will spend SO much time focusing on that child's needs and keeping that child up to speed that the rest of the class will suffer. Research has shown that this is simply not true. In fact, the other students have benefited by having children with special needs in the classroom. They learn to work better in groups, they learn to adapt better, be more accepting of all people, be more patient and at the end of the year they tend to actually come out ahead of the game in all areas of development.

One teacher mentioned in the book above, talked about keeping a stack of index cards on her desk, each card contained a child's name. Every morning she would flip to a new card and that day that child would get special treatment. This would look different for each child depending on his or her needs. For example, it might be spending a few extra minutes to socialize with him, or it might be taking extra time to examine her written work. She might give the student a valued job for the day or she may even call home to share some words of praise with the student's parents. Each student is different and each student will have different needs from that teacher to help them shine. The best part is that this is all done without the student's knowledge, so they never know when it's their "turn"... they just know that their teacher DOES care about them and this technique is a good reminder that inclusion is NOT about supporting the needs of some, it's about recognizing the uniqueness in everyone.

 If you are an educator, would you consider using a strategy like the one adopted by this teacher? 

As a parent, do you think what this teacher did is a good idea? Why or why not?

Are there any similar things that you see your child's teacher doing that encourages inclusion and recognizes the uniqueness of all students in the class, not just those students with special needs?
If you are a parent of a typical child who has a child or children with special needs in your child's classroom, do you feel the children with special needs get more attention? If so, do you feel that it takes away from your child's education? 

More later...


Karyn Reed said...

My fourteen year old used to play at the children's museum with a little boy with down syndrome when they were little. He was excited when they met back up at their high school. The boy has a one-on-one aid but takes many of the same classes as my son. He is beloved by everyone at the school and I think my son's education is helped greatly by this amazing young man.

The Thomsons said...

I am a special educator (have msg-ed you before :))

I would encourage the general education teachers I work with to try the idea used by this teacher.

I co-teach math with a 2nd grade teacher and I think it has been one of the best things for both of us. We are able to bounce ideas off each other. She teaches the general lesson while I am able to pick up on the little things some of the students might need or miss. We piggy back so often that the kids don't even notice. Likewise, I work with small groups or pull random kids to work with that it doesn't "label" the kids with IEP's. We are able to work together to help ALL the children in her class!

I also give her materials to review for tests that I know the students on my caseload are really good at (think lots of preteaching)and then the students who might usually struggle - get a chance to teach their peers and lead a group for review based on the materials/activity. Finding the strengths in each child and empowering them to use what they' ve been given!!!!

I also do a lesson about "fair is not equal and equal is not fair" at the beginning of the year.... in conjunction with a Sensitivity Training about some of the disabilities and abilities the students in our school might have. Helps General education students feel empowered and answers the questions they might want to ask but aren't sure how to....

Lauren Miranda said...

I have the amazing privilege of being the Head of Special Education Services at a state school in Australia. We have 2300 students at the school and about 95 students who have a verified disability through the education system (in the areas of Intellectual Impairment, Physical Impairment, Speech Language Imoairment, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Vision and Hearing Impairments).. Our school does not have a special education unit or building or even a room. All of the students regardless of ability are 100% included in the classroom with their peers and taught by the classroom teacher each day.
This has many benefits and some challenges too. The benefits far outweigh the challenges! The biggest benefit is that all children are accepted by peers and teachers. We do of course have Special Education Teachers who work with teachers and classes to implement adjustments to make for an inclusive educational experience. I tell people inclusion isn't being in the classroom doing the same work, inclusion is a state of mind, it's the belief that all children belong and are on their own learning journey.

There are times when we do focused intervention and small group work but it is by no means only children with aan identified disability that participate. It's any student who need assistance with a concept.

It really is an amazing job I have. I get to work with a dedicated group,of teachers who value all children and their learning. I have the most fantastic families who work with the school to achieve real results to set their children up to be life long learner s though celebrating success and finally I get the privilege of working with kids who never cease to amaze me with their ability to keep going. There isn't a day that I don't sto and appreciate the fact that I get to know these kids and their families.

Inclusion works with the right teachers and team!

brook said...

I do think the children with special needs get more attention. I think it is inevitable, but I do not think it is wrong. If it is so much attention that it impacts the education of others, I think that an aide should be assigned. This is about to be our kid enterring k. I actually have some guilt about how much time I know he requires, and I hope he gets an aide.

John & Lorna said...

Hello from Dublin, Ireland :). My daughter has a little boy in her class who has Hallermann-Streiff syndrome. They are best friends. He has an SNA in class to help him but to be honest none of the other children know who she is there to help iykwim. Having this little fellow in class has certainly not hindered the others at all.

Angel The Alien said...

I am hoping to be a special ed teacher as soon as I find a job. I would try using that method that the teacher used, to make sure every kid had a special day. I think in a self-contained special ed room it might be easier to give each child special attention each day, because there's usually about 5 to 8 kids in the classroom, plus at least 1 assistant. But for a teacher on her own with 22 kids, you have to look for other ways to reach out to every kid. I know plenty of teachers who don't even try. So I think it is great that this one teacher figured out something that works for her!