Holiday break is
officially over and as the new semester starts, I’m not only planning for my
classroom, I’m also preparing to teach a new college course. Last fall was my
first endeavor in teaching higher education, and it turned out to be a blast. I
taught an introduction to special education course to students preparing to be
general education teachers. The course covered the disability categories of
IDEA, each disability’s characteristics and basic information about IEPs and
the referral process. It was so fun talk about my passion with a group of
interested individuals! I definitely had to do some outside study and research
to prepare for class but, overall, I felt comfortable with the topics covered
in the intro course.
This semester, however,
the class I’m teaching is “Advanced Methods for Students with Mild
Disabilities.” As with last semester, the students in the class are preparing
to be general education teachers. It’s inevitable they’ll have students in
their future classrooms with a variety of disabilities: specific learning
disabilities, emotional/behavioral disorders, ADD/ADHD, Asperger’s Syndrome,
etc. The main focus of the course is how to teach these students in the general
education setting and focuses on research-based strategies, common
accommodations/modifications and valid assessment measures.
As I looked over the
information to be covered, I have to admit that I was completely overwhelmed.
All I could think was, “I’m a self-contained special education teacher! I don’t
have a clue about this stuff!” While my students do attend related arts course
in general education, I know very little about inclusion in academic subjects
for students with high-incidence disabilities.
After calming myself
down and resolving to educate myself so I can educate others, I began to think
about my hopes for the course. I feel very strongly about the importance and
effectiveness of inclusion for students with disabilities and desperately want
these future teachers to have positive outlooks on the issue. My goal is for
them to see the students with disabilities in their future classrooms no
differently than the other students. I also want them to be confident in their
ability to teach their students with disabilities.
With this in mind, one
thought I’ve had is to divide the class into groups and assign a hypothetical student
with a disability to each group. The “student” will be a member of the
hypothetical classroom. I considered allowing the groups to determine the
grade, type of classroom and even the name of the “student.” My point is for my
students to realize that their future students with disabilities are unique
individuals with specific needs, talents and interests. Through course
assignments, they would work to develop effective methods for including their
Here’s where you guys,
the faithful Reality 101 readers and fellow bloggers, come in. I really need
some guidance on what it’s like in the general education setting for students
with high-incidence disabilities who are fully included, and what it’s like for
their teachers. What are the main things teachers need to know or be prepared
to do? How do I best prepare them to collaborate with special educators or even
a co-teacher? What do you think about the hypothetical “student” idea? Would
that be a worthwhile exercise?
I look forward to
reading your thought-provoking comments and ideas; thanks in advance for
helping me out!