Students with Disabilities

Not really sure what this was written in response to.

January 30, 2008

Students with Disabilities                                                          Class Reflection #1

1. I will begin this particular classes’ school year with community building exercises like I will with all classes. I will also survey students about the things they like both inside and outside of the classroom. A writing sample will be needed to assess student writing abilities. I will have students do a short in-class writing assignment in conjunction with a longer, but not long, homework assignment that will be typed and structured like a formal essay. After receiving these samples I will make an assessment as to whatever other information I need about a particular student. Prior teachers will be contacted and asked about a student’s performance in their class.

The curriculum will be the same for all students, with assignments adjusted to meet the needs of the LD students. For testing, LD students will be given extra time to take tests, tests questions are more likely to be multiple-choice or worded differently than the tests the other students are taking. Extra tutoring will be made available to LD students during school hours for help with writing assignments. Tutoring will be available for all students, but for the LD students I will be sure to schedule mandatory tutoring sessions to gauge progress. 

With a high percentage of students having a form of a learning disability, a little more than one-third, I will need to have a special-ed instructor or a teaching aid in class at all times. Five of the students have ADHD and may require special attention to keep them focused. I do not wish to have the class disrupted constantly by constantly interacting with these students. Inclusion classes will be mixed with regular special-ed classes. The special-ed classes will be used to reinforce what is taught in the general classes, or to teach what was missed in the general-ed classes. I like the idea of inclusion classes because they make LD students feel as though they are not different. During the inclusion classes which feature a lecture, an IRE session, or reading time, I will have the special-ed teacher working on keeping LD students focused and asking answering any questions they may have but are too embarrassed to ask in front of the class.

Station teaching and parallel teaching will likely be needed for this particular class, with so many students falling into different academic levels. These two techniques will fall into my personal philosophy of having more personalized instruction in the classroom. Whole class lectures or teaching episodes are beneficial when a concept is needed to be taught to all students. Once group or individual projects begin however, students will have work stations where they will go to do their own work. Or, students will work individually at their desks with either myself or the special-ed teacher making our way around the room addressing each student by themselves.  I’m not real keen on teaming, I will want my own classroom, but I do like some of the aspects of co-teaching, particularly having another teacher who is able to go around the classroom illustrating ideas I am currently teaching.

One thing I will require of all parents/guardians of my students is that they be committed to making time and space available for their child to do their school work. This means setting aside a place where there will be little or no traffic or household noise. I will not ask for parents/guardians to spend time tutoring; only to provide their child with a stress-free place to do their work.

IEPs will be addressed on an ongoing basis. With the extra help available to me through the use of para-professionals, I will have more time to track a student’s progress to their IEP goals. Class workload will be adjusted based on if the student is meeting their IEP goals or falling behind them.

2. For starters, from what I know about them the PSSAs are completely useless. The PSSAs exist for no other reason than as a way for school districts to continue to receive federal aid money. The fact that Cassidy failed them means nothing. Her Language Arts instruction should be changed to suit her needs and her strengths. To prepare for the IEP meeting, I would prepare a curriculum specifically to suit Cassidy. Clearly she likes to read and write. She carries around romance novels and writes in her journal. I see no problem in designing a curriculum for her, separate from what her classmates are doing. She will be given journal assignments and be allowed to use texts of her choice to complete them. Of course, she would be separated from her classmates most of the time, but if that is what it takes to get her to do the work that is fine with me.

Knowing that she needs to develop communication and collaboration skills I would bring her into the main class whenever a drama activity is planned. Or I will let her do her own. She may feel and actually be ostracized initially but I feel the point is to have students learn, so an environment should be created where all students will actually learn. If Cassidy shows progress I will slowly integrate her back into the class.

The experience I have is that students with IEPs do not do well with class participation and in group activities are shy and do not talk much. Groups intimidate them and inhibit their learning. Being alone all the time will not be a positive long term experience; they need to develop interpersonal skills as well. Giving individual instruction is not necessarily wrong. I believe teachers should put students on the path that leads to the best educational result.

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