Standard 8 Exceptionality: Addresses the unique learning and behavioral needs of all children, collaborating with other educators and professionals where necessary.
In the course, Educating Exceptional Students, I learned that inclusion in the general education setting provides many benefits for students with disabilities. Causton-Theoharis (2009) states, “Inclusive classrooms are places where all students are integral members of classrooms, feel a connection to their peers, have access to rigorous and meaningful general education curricula and receive the collaborative support to succeed” (p. 37). If students can be provided with services in the general education classroom that meet the academic and social needs of the students, I think it’s important that special education students are in the general education classroom. However, I do think that the general education classroom may not always be the best environment to meet the needs of the student.
Preciado (2013) explains that IDEA does not require inclusion. Instead the law requires that children with disabilities be educated in the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE). According to Causton-Theoharis (2009) , “Inclusion is a way of thinking- a deeply held belief that all children, regardless of ability or disability, are valued members of the school and classroom community” (p. 37). I support this belief and think that by meeting the needs of the students in the Least Restrictive Environment, we are showing our students that they are valued members. Preciado (2013) states, “For some students the LRE is not the general education setting.” I think it is the role of the IEP team, including parents, to decide what the LRE looks like for each student. Although I think that support outside of the classroom can be valuable, I also think it’s important that all students have as many opportunities as possible to be in the general education setting. Preciado (2013) states, “When we inhibit special education students from working with mainstream students, we make it difficult for special education students to develop the appropriate social and academic skills in order to succeed, do well in school, and build good relationships with teachers and friends.” I think that teachers should make every effort to work together to differentiate instruction so that the Least Restrictive Environment may be the general education setting.
Strategies, Modifications, and Adaptations
Lewis & Doorlag (2011) explain two types of instruction that are beneficial for students with learning disabilities. They include the remediation approach and the compensation approach. Remediation is used to teach basic skills that students need support with. Compensation is an approach used to deliver content while compensating for the students’ areas of difficulties (p.193-194). These approaches offer modifications that help students learn basic academic skills. In the remediation approach, teachers can use prompts to help students understand what to do. Students who have difficulty remembering information may need additional direct instruction or more time for guided practice.
Response to Intervention-
Response to Intervention is a strategy designed to identify learning or behavior difficulties, provide intervention, and assess student progress prior to referring students for special education. RTI is a three-tiered intervention model. Tier 1 is quality, evidence-based instruction for all students. Tier 2 provides intervention for students having difficulty in Tier 1 and Tier 3 provides intervention for students needing more intensive support. (Lewis & Doorlag, 2011, p. 36). Denton (2012) states. “The implementation of a comprehensive RTI model may reduce the number of students referred for special education, promote effective early intervention, provide diagnostic information to consider in the identification of a disability, and/or may reduce the impact of a disability on a child’s academic progress” (p. 233). I think Response to Intervention should be implemented to improve academic outcomes of students. If students are receiving interventions based on assessment data, they have more opportunities to receive instruction that will improve their academic performance. Early intervention may also prevent students from further academic problems.
Improving Social Acceptance-
Teachers can improve social acceptance for students with special needs in the general education classroom. Lewis & Doorlag (2011) state, “Simply including students with disabilities in general education classes does not guarantee their social acceptance or acquisition of improved social skills” (p.133). Teachers learn and observe students’ academic behaviors to plan for accommodations and interventions to meet the learning needs of all students. Similarly, teachers should also educate themselves and plan for enhancing social acceptance for all students. Lewis & Doorlag (2011) state, “Effective inclusion programs require that educators pay attention to social needs as well as to the academic, behavior, and physical needs of their students” (p.133). Supporting students socially may encourage students to participate and improve their performance in academics. Lewis & Doorlag (2011) describe principles for enhancing social acceptance in the classroom. It is important that teachers and students have a positive attitude and increase their knowledge about students with special needs. Some examples include: reading, watching DVDs, visiting special education settings, and peer tutoring. Increased knowledge will decrease discrimination and lessen the development of non-accepting attitudes (Lewis & Doorlag, 2011, p. 134). Students with special needs should participate in as many activities as possible and be treated like all of the other students because often they display the same behaviors. Finally, teachers should prepare students for inclusion by providing instruction on appropriate social behavior including modeling, imitating, coaching, and practice (Lewis & Doorlag, p. 135).
School-Wide Behavior Support-
This is a viable option for decreasing students’ problem behaviors because it is a preventative framework designed to prevent problem behaviors and increase positive social behaviors (Preciado, 2013). The strategies used in Tier I are designed to prevent school behavior problems and respond quickly to minor behavioral problems (Lewis and Doorlag, 2011, p. 113). Strategies in Tier I include establishing expectations, defining the expectations in different contexts, teaching expectations, positively responding to behavior, and developing a staff reinforcement plan (Lewis and Doorlag, 2011, p. 113). These strategies are all designed to set students up for success because they provide a systematic approach for establishing expectations and reinforcing positive behaviors. This decreases students’ problem behaviors because students know what is expected of them and understand what it looks like to demonstrate positive behaviors. They are also positively reinforced for positive social behaviors and are provided with support when behavior problems occur.
Building Positive Relationships, Developing Problem Solving Skills, & Establishing Expectations-
Time spent in the classroom building positive relationships, developing problem-solving skills, and establishing expectations is a valuable piece of the curriculum. Lewis & Doorlag (2011) explain that students with behavioral disorders are all capable of meeting the academic demands of the general education classroom (p. 231). I think it is our responsibility as teachers to establish a learning community that provides adaptations for students that will help them succeed academically. One of the most challenging tasks as a teacher is learning about the backgrounds, behaviors, and lifestyles of many different students. Each student handles situations differently and the emotions they bring to school change each day. I think it is our responsibility to go beyond teaching academic content. I think all students need support in order to develop a positive self-image, make positive choices, and manage conflict. In order for students to improve academically, I think it’s important that teachers make every effort to understand students’ backgrounds and learning styles. In addition to teaching academic content, students should learn how to positively interact with peers and should be held to high behavior expectations focused on respect, responsibility, and safety. Lewis & Doorlag (2011) state, “Inappropriate classroom behaviors can be either the cause or result of poor academic performance” (p.232). This is why I think it’s important for teachers to spend time establishing a safe learning environment with effective behavior management. Students need explicit modeling and practice of how to work productively in group settings and problem solve with their peers. Teachers should give positive reinforcement to students who demonstrate exemplar behavior so other students can learn from their peers. Teachers should also serve as models of exemplar behavior by taking time each morning to greet their students and learn their students’ strengths and weaknesses. Teachers should value student interests and backgrounds and use this information to adapt and modify their teaching so all students can succeed academically.
Strategies for Gifted Students-
I think gifted students often get overlooked and do not always receive the adapted instruction they need. According to Lewis & Doorlag (2011) there is a common belief that gifted students will “make it on their own” and that teachers should provide support to “students who really need it” (p. 318). I am guilty of spending more time with students below grade level in small group instruction to provide them with additional support. While students who need acceleration spend a lot of time completing independent work. However, it is equally important that gifted students receive adaptations that will allow them to accelerate and advance in the curriculum. Lewis & Doorlag (2011) emphasize the importance of adaptations because many students labeled “gifted” do not make it on their own. This is due to “inadequate curriculum, unsupportive educators, social and emotional difficulties, peer pressures, and inadequate parenting” (p. 318). In order to improve outcomes for students who are gifted, teachers can provide differentiation for students. Differentiation can include acceleration, enrichment, and grouping. Acceleration allows students to move through the curriculum faster. Enrichment requires the teacher to go more in depth and use instructional strategies to develop higher-level thinking skills. Teachers can group students together to provide enrichment and acceleration (Lewis & Doorlag, 2011, p. 325). Teachers can compact the curriculum to provide students with more time engaged in challenging tasks. Teachers can tier assignments which allows them to still teach all students the same learning target but differentiate the level of difficulty based on students’ needs. Problem-based learning is another model that allows students to problem solve using real-word situations.
Students with visual or hearing impairments can benefit from adaptations in the classroom arrangement. For students with visual impairments some adaptations include: helping students become familiar with the room using clock orientation or allowing them to explore, enlarging print, reducing auditory distractions, seating students with peers and allowing students to move to a different seat for closer proximity to an activity (Lewis & Doorlag, 2011, p. 305). Students with hearing impairments should also have flexible seating arrangements so they are close to and facing instruction. The student needs to be able to see the teacher or student speaking. It’s important that the student is away from distracting noise and that background noise is kept to a minimum. It may also be helpful to label classroom items (Lewis & Doorlag, 2011, p. 306). In addition to adapting the classroom arrangement, teachers can modify instruction to meet students’ needs. However, it is most likely that the academic goals will stay the same. Some adaptations for students with visual impairments include finding materials in different formats, using descriptive language and reading aloud words written on a board, helping students develop listening skills, and providing different ways to present the reading material such as a tape recording (Lewis & Doorlag, 2011, p. 306). Students with hearing impairments may benefit from face-to-face contact when the teacher is speaking. It is important that students can see written material on a projector and are provided with teacher’s notes and outlines. Providing students with visuals and clear explanations may also be helpful (Lewis & Doorlag, 2011, p. 312).
Throughout this course, I learned many adaptations and accommodations teachers can provide to support students with special needs. It is important that teachers always assess students’ needs so he or she can provide the necessary adaptations and resources needed for the student to be successful in the least restrictive environment. It is important that teachers are aware of indicators of special needs and use that as a guide to refer students for special education services. It should be the combined effort of the pre-referral team, assessments by different specialists, and appropriate measures to determine goals that will benefit the student. Teachers can be supportive by providing students with adaptations and strategies.
literaturereview– This artifact is evidence of my research on students with autism spectrum disorder. This research will make me a better teacher because I will be better prepared to identify and assess common behaviors students with autism may exhibit. Understanding these behaviors will help me provide appropriate strategies and interventions that will support students in an inclusive setting. This will hopefully help students develop social skills that will help them feel confident and successful in the general education classroom.
Research1– This artifact is evidence of my research on establishing a safe environment for students with emotional disturbance.
Assessment Portfolio– This artifact shows how I modified the learning environment and adapted instruction based on students’ development factors and learning needs.
Causton-Theoharis, J. (2009) “The golden rule of providing support in inclusive classrooms: support others as you would wish to be supported.” Retrieved from https://bbweb-prod.spu.edu
Denton, Carolyn (2012). Response to Intervention for Reading Difficulties in the Primary Grades: Some Answers and Lingering Questions. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 45(3), 232-243.doi: 10.1177/0022219412442155
Lewis, R. B. & Doorlag, D. H. (2011). Teaching students with special needs in general education classrooms (8th eds.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education.
Preciado, J., (2013). EDSP 6644 Module 1 Podcast
Preciado, J. (Producer). (2013, Oct. 25) [Audio Podcast]. Retrieved from https://bbweb-prod.spu.edu.