Wednesday, January 16, 2008

thoughts on special ed.

our staff meeting today was about the intervention process of identifying and working with students that we wish to refer for special education services. i had just been talking with ms. h about a few of my resource room students, and had a discussion with ms. p that was really enlightening. we discussed the difference between inclusion and self-contained classrooms in our school and how special needs students are identified, as well as how we service them, and how progress is measured.

we talked a lot about differentiation of instruction and the need for all teachers, general ed or special ed, to learn how to teach in a multi-modal way -- recognizing the different skill levels and learning needs of students, and thinking about this when we give directions for an assignment, design lessons and assessments. this can mean using visual aids, the board, saying directions aloud, drawing examples, modeling for students, individual tutoring and assistance (whenever possible), and individual, group and whole-class learning situations.

it seemed sad to me that she was so excited about my desire to learn and to assist my students as best i can, and said that most general ed teachers are too busy to take the time and make the effort to consider the students' learning needs. it really is up to classroom teachers to educate themselves about their students, know your kids and advocate for them, for the betterment of their lives. just because they're special ed students doesn't mean that they can't or won't live full and vibrant lives. to the contrary, making a decision like that about a student is to treat them with discrimination. it's important to check yourself and your pre-conceived notions about what dis/ability means -- we're all different in what we excel at, we all need help in some areas of our lives.

bottom line: i try to advocate for all of my students, know them, know their learning styles and consider this always. i live by differentiation on the daily.

more thoughts soon.

1 comment:

Jeff Stanzler said...

I'm glad to see you chewing on this issue, Lauren. I don't know how well it came across, but the woman (Ronnie) who spoke to 504 early in the fall was really addressing just these issues...thus the "universal design for learning" concept. You might want to take a (second) look at this:
Ronnie might be a great person for you to talk with. Let me know if you want her contact info.