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Inclusion

.. incipal reported that at Valley School they moved into a collaborative teaching model slowly, beginning only with fifth grades (in 19988), then serving only third and fourth grades (in 1990). By 1991, however, the program had expanded to include third, fourth, and fifth grades. The collaborative teaching model provided full-time services in general education classes for students with LD who had been served in a resource program. Only 23 of the 40 students with LD and two of the seven special education teachers were involved in the collaborative learning disabilities programs in this school: the remaining students with LD and students with other disabilities who attended this school were taught in resource rooms and self-contained classes by the remaining five special education teachers.

The students with LD in the collaborative program were all assigned to the general education teachers were co-teaching. The collaborative teaching model, strategy training was a central component. Accommodating individual student needs was identified as a second important component of the collaborative teaching model. Local personnel in Virginia developed an inclusion model to improve services for students with LD. The collaborative teaching model they chose involved placing into the mainstream students whose IEP goals could be met in a special education teacher committed to changing her role, and a general education teacher volunteering to participate in the collaboration. The model was implemented in only one class per grade level, and only three grade levels in the elementary school reflecting the perceived current needs of the school. School personnel reported that the success of the model was contingent on having personnel who believe in the model.

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The collaborative teaching approach was part of a continuum of services available to students with LD in the district. Students with LD were clustered into age-appropriate classes at each grade level so that a special education teacher could team teach with a small number of general education teachers for 90 minutes per day. The in-class services consisted mostly of instruction on learning strategies. The majority of the school day of the target students with LD was spent as part of the general education group. Full inclusion occur when a child with disability learns in a general education classroom alongside his or her age mates with all the necessary supports.

These supports are provided through extensive teamwork and communication. Moreover, in providing these supports school must always consider the best interests of the student with disabilities, his or her peers, and all the members of the inclusion team, including the special educator, the general educator, parents, building administrators, therapists, and other support personnel whatever, else it maybe, inclusion should never be seen as a money-saving option for a school or district under inclusion, no support services are taken away from students; indeed, even more support maybe required to enable a student to function optimally in the general education classroom. An individual child’s educational program is developed and owned by all team members. These are not a single expert, but a team of experts who contribute interdependently to each child’s program. We have our support for the philosophy of inclusion on three fundamental arguments.

First, we believe that inclusion has a legal base. The great majority of court cases have not upheld the traditional practice of segregating students with special educational needs. Many cases are still pending but it is unusual to pick up an education journal today without seeing some references to inclusion and the legal mandates that support the practice. The bottom line of the argument for inclusion is that each child has a legal right to an equal opportunity to obtain an education in the “least restrictive environment” possible. For many advocates of inclusion, the fight for inclusion has become a civil rights issue in the segregated programs are seen to be inherently unequal and a violation of the rights of students with special education needs.

A second argument for inclusion rests on the results of research on best practices. Research continues to show that students who are not pulled out do better than those who are segregated. Analyses of segregated special education programs indicate that they have simply not worked. Despite increases in spending and the growth of the special education bureaucracy, children in segregated special education programs have not shown the growth that was predicted. Finally, but perhaps most important, a strong moral and ethnical argument can be made for the “rightness” of inclusion: it is the best thing to do for the students.

Segregating students the day in any way is not good: it classifies, it creates bias, and it makes them different. Schools are a reflection of the communities they serve, and so all members of those communities should be a part of the schools. Students with special needs are a part of our communities, and with the inclusion philosophy, we can make them more and more a part of our school communities. We need to learn from one another in our schools so that we can do the same in our communities. In the future, students majoring in education are likely to regard the practice of segregating students with special needs in much the same as we look upon racial segregation before the 1960’s.

The Role of the Special Education Teacher: When inclusion was first initiated in some school systems, the myth existed that special educators would no longer be needed since the children once taught in separate classrooms would be in general education classrooms. This is very far from the truth. Indeed, the role of the special educator is crucial. The special education ran act as the case manager for his or her students, facilitating team meetings and planning sessions. He or she is responsible for determining the curricular adaptations that may need to be in place on a daily or weekly basis and for facilitating the development by parents and team members of individualized education program (IEP) throughout the year and is usually the liaison with the therapists. The special educator should also be involved in actively developing and participating in planning and supports sessions involving the classmates of the child with a disability.

These sessions are necessary to the success of the child who is included. Peers need to understand the unique aspects of their classmate to learn fact, not myths: to learn how to interact with their classmate: and to develop empathy and respect for that person. The job description could literally go on and on but the most important role the special educator takes on is that of team playing especially in supporting the classroom teacher. Inclusion does not mean that a child never receives separate instruction in skills or functional routines. However, if a child is to receive separate instruction, it should be a valuable experience that can only be done outside the classroom. For example, if a child needs intensive reading instruction in a small group or even one-to-one, this instruction should be built into his or her schedule at an appropriate time (e.g., during the language arts period).

Such specialized instruction maybe provided by a general educator, a special education, or an instructional assistant. Some educators argue that students with significant physical disabilities or with intellectual disabilities cannot learn functional life skills in a general education environment. If a student needs to work on toilet skills, the type of classrooms he or she is in makes not differences. Bathrooms can be found in the school building, and these skills can be worked on there at natural or scheduled times of the day. Similar advise applies for mealtimes skills, grooming skills, and many other skills that may be priority areas on some children’s IEP. Community living and vocational skills can also be a part of students’ schedules, as long as they are skills that the parents and team members have identified as being necessary and relevant.

We have also had the opportunity to work with included children who face behavioral challenges. This is the most controversial and unsettling aspect of inclusion. No matter what environment a child is in, behavioral challenges are constant and time-consuming. This in nothing new to public schools or to special education. The fact is if teachers put a group of children together who demonstrate challenging behaviors these behaviors will tend increase and become more intense through imitation and an effort to attract more attention. If teachers wait for a child to be “ready” to move into an inclusive setting by expecting his or her behavior to improve in a segregated environment that day may never come. The “readiness theory” is a myth.

Children with challenging behavior need positive role models, structure, and specific behavioral plans based on natural rewards and contingencies that are designed to replace negative behavior with positive ones. The Role of Classroom Teacher: To be successful in an inclusive setting, a general education teacher must believe that students with disabilities can learn successfully and deserve the opportunity to learn in age-appropriate classrooms. We continue to celebrate the abundant leaning that takes place among classmates of all abilities in classrooms throughout our school. We see students with disabilities learning alongside their nondisabled peers in an environment in which support is provided and a real feeling of communist exists. Students in an inclusive setting develop a new sense of understanding and respect for one another and for human differences. Classroom teachers who do not lower their expectations continue to be amazed at what students can achieve in a risk-free environment where differences.

Classroom teachers who do not lower their expectation continue to be amaze at what students can achieve in a risk-free environment where differences are recognized and celebrated. Members of the class get to know one another, talk about likes and dislikes, and start to realize that they are all equal members of the classroom community. There are many components to such a community classroom, and more important, we have found that strategies that are effective for inclusion tend to benefit all learners, regardless of their abilities or disabilities. Effective discipline strategies must be in lace, and part of any successful discipline strategy are the settings of realistic and positive goals for students. With realistic goals in place for individuals, appropriate classroom behaviors thrive.

When students recognize the appropriateness trustworthy and confident. Cooperative leaning is a noncompetitive teaching strategy that works well in an inclusive classroom. Through the activities of cooperative learning groups, each student can play an equal part in classroom activity. The roles of group members need to be define clearly and all members of the group must participate, allowing each student to make a contribution to the learning member are clearly important, and each student can feel valued even as a student develops needed interpersonal skills. Therefore, from the first day of school, the classroom teacher must take ownership of included students with special needs. These students are no longer thought of as the special education teacher’s students who have been placed in a general education classroom for a short period. The classroom teacher should become very involved with the process of developing of IEP and with making sure that the necessary supports and services are provided to the included student.

The student feels a real sense of belonging in such and environment. The Role of the Principle: The principal plays one of the most important roles in an inclusive school. Researchers have found repeatedly that inclusion programs are not successful if the principal does not take an active and positive role in the process. Principal cannot see inclusion as a program that takes place only in classrooms. Inclusion must become a school wide philosophy; it must permeate the school and become a building block for all other programs that occur. Curriculum and Instruction: A very important part of allowing each student to participate actively at his or her own level and to meet individualized goals is an overlapping curriculum. Offering different materials in the same topic but at different reading levels has proved to be very successful. The same curriculum goals are expected of all students, but differences are taken into account.

Parent involvement has proved vital in inclusive classrooms. Most often, if parents are informed of what is taking place in the classroom, they will be supportive. Parents can be invited to volunteer in the classroom, both to assist the teacher and to witness firsthand how he or she goes about meeting the individual needs of the students. When the classroom community is extended to include parents, greater involvement will lead to greater success.” Involving students as peer helpers for students with disabilities is a very effective strategy. Teachers will need to model strategies for students and allow students to be involved in problem-solving sessions.

Peer assistance and support can help nondisabled students build and maintain relationship with their disabled peers. In a successful inclusive classroom, the general educator, the special educator and the instructional assistants must collaborate to meet the needs of all students for successful collaboration to take place, the following assets are by: Communication. Teacher who collaborate must be honest and open about concerns and feelings. Flexibility. Teachers in inclusive classrooms must be willing to “roll with the punches,” to compromise, and to do things differently if necessary.

Shared ownership. The student with an IEP is part of the general class and thus “belongs to” the general education teacher. The special education teacher plays a variety of roles that support the student and the classroom teacher. Recognition of differing needs. All students can successful met the same curriculum goals with adaptation and support appropriate to their individual needs.

Need-based instruction. Collaborators must be willing to plan activities that ensure success and not be overly concerned with time lines. Willingness to be a team player. The team must be willing to plan and work together on all issues, especially student behavior. Dependability: Each team member must be prepared for his or her part of all planning and lesson responsibilities.

Cooperative grading. The special education teacher and the Bibliography English Major from Paterson, N.J. with ambitions to be a writer and actor.

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