Thu. Feb 2nd, 2023

Parents and teachers need to constantly be evaluating placements and programs for children with exceptional learning needs.. Special education team members need to look at the full continuum of placements for each child without assumption. Yes, this should happen annually according to the IEP, but placements & programs are often assumed for the student without careful evaluation.

When discussing all options of placements, Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) must be achieved. A common challenge regarding LRE is to find the environment which fosters as much independence as possible for the student with disabilities. This may or may not be with typical peers.

Assuming the LRE is with regular peers, you now have to figure out to make the situation work. Setting a child up for failure is not an option. Although many teams consider most of the important aspects of inclusion, a key process is often left out. Teacher Communication!

What most parents and teams don’t realize is the difficulty teachers from the special education and regular education teams have when it comes to communicating. Two separate worlds seem to exist within the school environment, special education and regular education. Sure, you may be lucky enough to have a few co-taught classes, but that experience seems to get left inside that classroom instead of growing throughout the school.

We are expecting our children with disabilities to be in an inclusive environment successfully and most of our teachers/support team are not functioning in an inclusive environment. How can we improve the situation? Use the IEP as a vehicle to assure communication between teachers takes place.

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Possible solutions for regular education & special education team member communication to facilitate an appropriate inclusive program:

 

  1. Weekly team meetings
  2. Consult time from the resource teacher
  3. Observations of each others’ classroom
  4. Pre-teaching collaboration of general ed curriculum

 

Inclusion decisions should include the following considerations at all times:

 

  • Physical: Mobility, Room Arrangement, Seating
  • Instructional: Lesson Presentation, Skill Acquisition, Assignments, Test Taking, Evaluation, Learning Structures, Organization, Parallel Activities, Parallel Curriculum, Assistive Technology
  • Social-Behavioral: Skill Training, Behavior Management Plan, Self-Management, Peer Support
  • Collaborative: 1:1 Aide, Co-Teaching, Resource Room Assistance, Teacher Consultation

 

Inclusion may not be for every child to maximize their learning experience. However, with proper support and an inclusive staff more students may be able to experience success in the general education environment. It’s all about the teamwork.

Catherine Whitcher, M.Ed, Founder and President of Precision Education, a special education consulting firm is a certified teacher and consults throughout the United States with school districts and parents on maximizing special education. She has been featured on AutismOne radio, published in The Autism Perspective and is a highly sought speaker for special education conferences, such as Reaching for the Stars. Ms. Whitcher is a proud member of NASET, a Distinguished Mom’s Choice Award Judge, and has collaborated with various corporations to provide research proven trainings to special education teams.

By rahul