March 13, 2014 § 2 Comments
I saw an article today about a town I used to work in. I worked there teaching in an inclusion setting as a special education teacher. I didn’t read the article I was too afraid it would anger me.
You see in this town the idea was to take everyone, no matter how severe the disability and put them with an aide at a separate table in the back of the room. If you had mild disabilities you were included but beyond that you really were not. This was a long time ago – I was in my 20s – but it sickened me. I quit after several months. The administration was inflexible and people weren’t willing to change.
Inclusion does not simply mean sticking a kid in a general ed classroom. It is a much more complicated process that takes hours of collaboration and communication. It also means the general education teacher takes on the role of being the teacher for this child too. At this school some classroom teachers did and some didn’t take on the responsibility of the child. In the classrooms where the general education teacher acted like the child’s teacher, just as she would for every other child in the classroom, those were the kids that had the most success.
I have also experienced this situation with my daughter, because she is so heavily involved with special education, the teacher doesn’t take ownership. The years where the classroom teacher has been heavily involved in her education were the best! They were also the years my daughter was the happiest and truly felt included. The other years, it has become more of a pass the buck situation – general education teacher relies on the special education teacher, special education teacher relies on the para and no one takes responsibility. When all 3 teachers (general ed, sped & para) work as a collaborative team and spend equal amounts of time with her then it works!
It has been disheartening over the years to sit in a parent – teacher conference and the general education teacher can’t even comment on my child because they don’t know her – at all. . They say things like “well I only see her for ELA and during that time she has the para supporting her soooo….”
I can’t tell you how badly I want to scream at them!
Teachers- if you are a classroom teacher and you have a child with serious needs in your class – BE THEIR TEACHER! You are still responsible!! Put yourself in the parents position of walking into a classroom conference and having the teacher not know your child beyond where their desk and locker is. Don’t these students deserve just as much attention from you as the rest? Inclusion is a horrible word really – it implies that our kids with needs are “allowed” to join in – instead of it just being a right..