Monday, April 23, 2012

A Big Boat

Inclusion isn’t easy.  And it isn’t new.  And it isn’t going away.  IDEA makes clear that the default placement for all children is the general education classroom and there’d better be solid, documented reasons for doing anything different.  Schools and teachers have been trying to make inclusion work for decades.   But high caseloads, scheduling nightmares, and lack of confidence in general educators’ abilities in working with kids with special needs present barriers to success.
Study after study shows that when teachers are armed with knowledge about Special Education, they demonstrate greater confidence, competence, and comfort in teaching students with disabilities.  But what kind of information do they need?  Well, for starters, there’s Special Ed Alphabet Soup.  All teachers need to have a working knowledge about ETRs, IEPs, RtI, UDL, OTs, PTs, SLPs, AT, ASD, LD, OHI, AD/HD, OCD, SED…you get the idea.

Secondly, we need to know our role in developing and implementing educational plans for students with disabilities.  The classroom teacher isn’t off the hook because a student has an IEP.  As a matter of fact, general educators have a legal obligation to understand and implement the supports that are written in this legally binding document.  So if Steven needs large print in order to access the curriculum or a way to demonstrate his learning other than a written test, these needs must be supported throughout this school day in every area, not just when he’s with the resource teacher.
We need each other to accomplish everything the IEP proscribes. We need the expertise of our special education teachers who understand how to individualize instruction; we need our general educators’ knowledge of curricular demands; we need paraprofessionals who have a clearly defined support role; we need support at the administrative level that encourages and facilitates collaboration.
Inclusion says: “We’re all in this together.”  Take a look at how PLC Consultants helps educators across the curricular spectrum make sense of inclusion.

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