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The Rationale Behind It
The IDEA encourages inclusion. The advocates for inclusion believe that inclusion in the classroom offers many benefits for all types of students, special and regular. For example, the inclusional classroom provides a controlled setting for all students to learn the interpersonal skills necessary in the outside world. These regular students, when they enter the workforce, will ultimately deal with people who have disabilities. The special students, when they become adults, must learn to interact effectively with people without disabilities. But, like any other situation in which opportunities are great, there will be unique challenges in the inclusional classroom that the special education teacher must overcome. One of them is how to successfully organize a special education classroom.
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Tips and Strategies for the Teacher
Special education inclusion can be challenging because the teacher will need to ensure the success of regular students as well as special students. These special students will require accommodations, as well as modifications to the lessons. Fortunately, the previous experiences of special education teachers proved that the challenges of inclusion in the classroom could be overcome. Here are some useful special education teaching strategies and tips:
- The special students should be seated where they can be easily reached by the teacher or by the teaching assistant.
- The inclusional classroom must have an allocated area, perhaps a cubicle or carrel, where special students can take tests or finish seatwork without the distraction of the whole class.
- The classroom is free of clutter that would easily distract the special needs students.
- The teacher has clearly expressed her expectations of the whole class and the consequences for flouting the basic class rules are also clear.
- To ensure completion of tasks, all students should become familiar with the prompting and cueing system of the teacher.
Some Teaching Strategies
- Instructions for any class activity should be delivered in various ways. For example, oral instructions must be accompanied with graphic organizers. The special students should also repeat these instructions to guarantee comprehension.
- Reminders should be given often and regularly while further explanations should be provided when needed. Praises and positive reinforcement for special students should also be given with greater frequency.
- Tasks should be modified, and shortened when necessary, to ensure that special students could reasonably complete the tasks. The tasks should also be multi-sensory to accommodate different learning styles.
- In recitations, the special needs students should be given a longer wait time. The teacher should be the model for regular students when it comes to interacting with their special needs classmates.
- The teacher should utilize cooperative learning to develop interpersonal skills in her students, both special and regular. Working in groups will provide students with a better comprehension of what a particular disability means.
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A Unique Opportunity
Special education teachers have a unique opportunity when they are assigned to an inclusional classroom. By properly organizing a special education classroom and by employing proven special education teaching strategies, the teacher can ensure the success of all types of students. If in doubt about a task or a decision, the teacher needs to remember that all of the students needed to be active learners, but some special students need to learn at their own pace.