Running head: PHILOSOPHY FOR EDUCATING My Philosophy for Educating Students with Disabilities Angelyn Cheatham Southern Methodist University
PHILOSOPHY FOR EDUCATING
Students in special education deserve numerous considerations when developing a plan for their education and providing the free and appropriate education that they deserve. Decisions on the placement, instruction, and behavior expectations of a student in special education should involve consideration all of their individual differences. I support IEP process because of the amount of scrutiny it gives to these decisions regarding a child with a disability. It allows for educators to consider the student at hand instead of placing them into a one-size-fits-all category based upon the label of their disability. Students in special education should be serviced in the environment that is most beneficial to them. This could be full inclusion into the classroom with instruction given by the general education teacher, a percentage of instruction with the special education teacher, or all instruction with the special education teacher. Each of these settings can be beneficial to the student based upon the considerations of their individual needs. Inclusion has become a recent hot topic among advocates of children in special education. I believe that it can be beneficial for some students however it is not the correct choice for all students with disabilities. At the same time, inclusion must be a well-organized and prepared for occasion otherwise it becomes ineffective. Bricker (2000) states that in order for inclusion to be successful for students with disabilities, three areas of concern must be addressed. First, educators must assure that the inclusion benefits all children and families in the class. Second, educators must have an understanding of which strategies and procedures work and which do not. Last, educators must create clear outcomes for the individual children who participate in inclusion programs. Unfortunately, the field of special education has had a shortage of well-qualified educators (Dempsey, Arthur-Kelly, & Carty, 2009). A highly qualified special education teacher is essential to the growth and success of the student with a disability. The educator should be
PHILOSOPHY FOR EDUCATING
knowledgeable about the strategies and practices that will engage the student in learning Fenlon (2008) describes an effective special education teacher as possessing the ability to maximize learning in literacy, reinforce and support positive behaviors, use technology to support curriculum and participation, and help implement effective practices for the special education student. This highly qualified educator should also carry the responsibility of being a primary advocate for the education of that child. This would involve continuous communication between the parents and other teachers of the student. The instruction that is provided to the student in special education should be appropriate for the student’s mental capabilities as well as challenging the student to grow intellectually. Some of the strategies that have been researched and proven to be successful in teaching children with disabilities are incidental teaching, using scripts, reinforcing self monitoring, utilizing peer imitation, and using visual pictures for telling a story (Ganz, Cook, & Earles-Vollrath, 2007). Other research suggests how utilizing the constructivist approach to learning can have immense impact on the academic achievement of students with learning disabilities (Cowden, 2010). It should be diverse in the methods of delivery and allow students to demonstrate their knowledge in a multitude of ways other than just pencil and paper response. The instruction should include assistive technology that can enhance the lessons and provide the student with a means of communication that they might not be able to conduct on their own. Ash (2011) discussed how assistive technology can create customized and personalized learning for each individual. She also described how teachers utilizing the universal design of learning could easily integrate assistive technologies in order to meet the needs of students with disabilities. In a study conducted by Boon, Fore, Blankenship, and Chalk (2007), integrating technology into social
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studies lessons proved to be beneficial for special education students by raising their academic achievement, engagement, motivation, and study skills. I believe that services for students in special education should be given for the length of their disability. For example, if the student has a life-long disability such as cerebral palsy then they should receive service from their diagnosis in infancy until transitioning into independent living in adulthood. However, if a child has a short-term disability, such as an injury or disability that can be overcome, then they should receive services until they have proven to be successful independently. Once the child is no longer serviced in special education it will allow for the resources in special education to be used for another student in need. Discipline in special education can be very difficult. I believe that with students in special education discipline and behavior plans should be created on a case-by-case basis. Individualized behaviors can then be addressed and goals set for that child. It is always important to keep the child’s mental capabilities in mind when creating expectations and goals. While the student might be 14 years old, they could only have the mental capacity to understand actions and consequences of a 4-year-old child. I think that educators should be well aware of the socioemotional and psychological stages of development in children and be able to reference these while developing the behavior plans for the child with disabilities. Educators can implement other behavior management strategies in the classroom that are beneficial for all students with disabilities. One method discussed by Sebag (2010) is to support self-advocacy and selfdetermination in students with disabilities. This method allows students to identify their strengths and weaknesses in order to target behaviors for improvement within themselves. Individualization is the most important aspect of providing services for a student with a disability. Educating students with disabilities requires reflection and thought for each aspect of
PHILOSOPHY FOR EDUCATING their learning environment. Appropriate placement, effective highly qualified educators, engaging strategies in instruction, and behavior management techniques are all factors that can affect the achievement of a student in special education. By analyzing the best choice for each factor, educators can ensure that the most beneficial services are being provided to the student.
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Ash, K. (2011). Lessons from assistive tech. Education Week, 30(25), 36. Boon, R. T., Fore III, C., Blankenship, T., & Chalk, J. (2007). Technology-based practices in social studies instruction for students with high-incidence disabilities: A review of the literature. Journal of Special Education Technology, 22(4), 41-56. Bricker, D. (2000). Inclusion: How the scene has changed. Topics in Early Childhood Special Education, 20(1), 14. Cowden, P. A. (2010). Reading strategies for students with severe disabilities. Reading Improvement, 47(3), 162-165. Dempsey, I., Arthur-Kelly, M., & Carty, B. (2009). Mentoring early career special education teachers. Australian Journal of Education, 53(3), 294-305. Fenlon, A. (2008). Hiring an effective special education teacher. Principal, 88(2), 24-27. Ganz, J. B., Cook, K. E., & Earles-Vollrath, T. L. (2007). A grab bag of strategies for children with mild communication deficits. Intervention in School & Clinic, 42(3), 179-187. Sebag, R. (2010). Behavior management through self-advocacy. Teaching Exceptional Children, 42(6), 22-29.