Special Education

Special education has always been foreign to me. I remember being separated from the kids who needed special education in elementary school. The special needs kids rarely interacted with kids in the general education classrooms. However, in the 1990’s, full-inclusion became the norm in public schools. There are so many factors, including individual, environmental, and social, to consider when discussing whether a special needs student should be included in the regular classroom and for how much of the school day. The individual education plan (IEP) team for that student should be well aware of the student’s strengths and weaknesses and what would be ideal to help the student grow, learn, and become as independent as possible.

In the end, what is best for the special needs student is what should be most important. This includes not only how well we can boost their intellectual performance, but also their social and emotional health. Being separated from other students can be detrimental to their social development. According to Noddings (2006), “Building relations of care and trust in the classroom is part of an ongoing critical lesson in human relations” (p. 103). This should include special needs children. It is also important for kids in the general education classrooms to be exposed to a variety of individuals so that they can learn how to accept and learn from others who are different.

However, the special education system is not without its own controversy and abuse. Some students will attempt to abuse the system by avoiding classwork or homework and claiming their disability as a cop-out. Unfortunately, parents of special needs children are also not without blame. According to Evans (2008), “Some parents confuse making life easier with making life better for their children. Too often, parents feel that protecting their child from the rigors of academic demands is in his or her best interest” (p. 330). It can be difficult for IEP teams, teachers, and counselors to argue with the parents of special needs students.

A special needs student should be given every accommodation necessary in order to have equal access to an activity. I intend to work to the best of my abilities to accommodate any special needs children placed in my future elementary classroom.

References:

Evans, Dennis. (2008). Taking Sides: Clashing Views of Controversial Issues in Teaching and Educational Practice. 3rd Ed. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.

Noddings, Nel. (2006). Critical Lessons: What Our Schools Should Teach. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.

Advertisements

EDU 6526: Citizenship and Moral Education in the Classroom

Teaching students to be good, moral citizens is critical to their future as adults. Being a citizen means being a member of and supporting one’s family, classroom, community, social group, and country. Assuming children come to school with a developed idea of virtue, morals, and citizenship is dangerous. Today, more than ever, the family unit is disintegrating and other outside influences such as television and the Internet have crept into our children’s lives unchecked. As a future teacher, I hope to become a role model for good behavior and conflict resolution so my students learn how to become good citizens.

Learning how to build lessons around the idea of citizenship and creating a safe and respectful learning environment are important to the overall function of the classroom. One way to promote a respectful learning environment is to run the classroom like a democracy. At the beginning of the year, students can vote on what the classroom reward will be for good behavior over a period of time. The students will feel a sense of ownership over the reward and will work together in behaving appropriately in order to achieve the reward.

Another way to promote citizenship in the classroom is using the role playing model of teaching. Joyce, Weil, and Calhoun (2015) define role playing as “students exploring human relations problems by acting out problem situations and then discussing the enactments. Together, students can explore feelings, attitudes, values, and problem-solving strategies” (p. 262). According to Joyce et.al. (2015), role playing explores how values drive behaviors and students think about how they feel and what is important to them. They also think about what is important to others and can develop empathy and compassion for others, while learning strategies for resolving conflict (Joyce et.al., 2015). Other benefits of role playing include improved listening skills, negotiating skills, reasonability. It is important for students to develop these skills in order for them to become good citizens in the classroom and life in general. See Figure 1 for an outline of the role playing model.

Figure 1 - Role Playing Model

Figure 1 – Role Playing Model

Citizenship can also be promoted in the classroom through the exploration of historical or contemporary problems using nonlinguistic representations, such as generating mental pictures and creating illustrations or drawings (Dean, Hubbell, Pitler, & Stone, 2012). For example, when discussing Lewis and Clark’s expedition, the teacher could have the students imagine how Sacagawea might have felt when she initially came into contact with Lewis and Clark. Was she scared, angry, or interested? To further this thinking, students might be asked to think about whether they know anyone with Native American heritage or family. Considering how one’s actions impact others is critical to developing empathy and in turn good citizenship. When students are good citizens of the classroom, there are fewer interruptions and conflicts are resolved quicker and with less escalation. The classroom functions more smoothly in general, leading to increased concentration and learning.

There are many websites that include ideas for how to promote good citizenship and morals in the classroom. One idea in particular from this list that I like is a community service project such as picking up litter. My classroom could go out into the neighborhood surrounding the school and pick up litter. This would promote taking care of our natural resources and treating the environment with respect. I plan on incorporating many of these ideas into my future classroom in order to provide a positive, safe learning environment for my students.

References:

Davies, L. (2002). 20 Ideas for Teaching Citizenship to Children. Retrieved from http://www.kellybear.com/TeacherArticles/TeacherTip27.html.

Dean, C., Hubbell, E., Pitler, H., Stone, B. (2012). Classroom Instruction That Works: Research Based Strategies for Increasing Student Achievement. 2nd Ed. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

Joyce, B., Weil M., & Calhoun, E. (2015). Models of Teaching. 9th Ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc.