Monday, April 30, 2012

Basic Training

There’s really nothing “basic” about special education.  And it’s just as tough to use the words “typical” or  “usually.”  Every kid is different.  Each student, whether or not he has an identified disability, comes to us with different “inputs:” home environment, background experiences, cultural considerations, personal value and belief systems.  Things we can do nothing about.  So, we change and implement what we can to support each student’s unique needs.  And that’s really what’s “basic” about Special Education. 
Within the labyrinth that is Special Education, IDEA recognizes thirteen disability categories.  Some of those categories are subdivided into more specific diagnoses.  Take the category of Specific Learning Disability, for example.  A “learning disability” can fall into 8 subcategories, such as Reading Comprehension or Listening Skills or Math Calculation.  Confused yet?  Just wait! 
Besides the variety of possible labels, we are required to provide a “continuum” of educational service delivery models.  Some kids with severe disabilities rarely have the opportunity to be with “normal” kids their age at school.  There are other kids who require minimal supports and spend their entire school day in their regular classroom with their friends.  A lot of kids have their educational needs met somewhere in the middle. 
On top of all of these variables, we have the educational team, which looks different for every kid in Special Education.  It’s hard to always know where we as educators are supposed to fit in the team scheme.  If all of this Special Ed stuff is a struggle that you or your colleagues face, Module 2: “Special Education Basics,” can provide clarification and support through online learning and collaboration.  Take a look.

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