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Special and Diverse Needs of Students: Week 5 Blog

The United States has always been known as a melting pot of populations and therefore also for its diverse community.  In today’s classroom, the average teacher will come across various coworkers, students, and parents.  The public school environment includes students of various races, cultures, social and economic classes, as well as many different learning styles and abilities.  No two students are alike in their learning styles and I believe that a teacher should use a variety of approaches when teaching material to their students. Among these different learning types are students who are known to have special needs. Special needs students suffer from many hardships in the classroom from behavioral, emotional, developmental and physical ailments.  These sorts of special needs children are extremely prevalent today and in my own personal life I am exposed to learning disabled children (my younger brother, Woody, is Autistic).  Many people I interact with on a daily basis, whether at work, at home, or at school almost always can relate to my family because they too have a family member suffering from disabilities or a close friend. Today pre-service education programs offer a wide variety of learning tracks so that one interested in teaching students with special needs can be educated on how to do so effectively and successfully.  Special Education is an extremely important aspect of the public school system because it helps these special needs students develop the necessary skills to grow and develop mentally, behaviorally, socially, and physically.

It is hard to imagine that once, not too long ago, the United States did not actively aid students in need.  One hundred years ago students with disabilities were not helped in a way that provided these students with the positive learning conditions and environments needed for them to succeed.  In 1975 the school atmosphere concerning disabled students began to change—policymakers created what is now known as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).  IDEA was an act of legislation in which all children with disabilities in the United States were guaranteed a free and appropriate public education (Ralabate and Foley 2003).   This was the first federal step to ensure that students with disabilities were not neglected in the school environment.  There have been revisions made to IDEA, most of which deal with how special needs individuals best learn in public classrooms.  Research showed that these students performed better in general education classrooms, and thus lawmakers felt it appropriate these students become integrated into general education curriculum. (Ralabate and Foley 2003).

With the implementation of IDEA and its many revisions to its legislation as well as intensive Special Education pre-service teacher education programs, it is obvious that today’s education is definitely gearing to support every kind of learner a teacher may come across in their diverse classroom.  From teachers specifically licensed to explicitly teach students with disabilities, to trained inclusion specialists or the general education teacher’s having a disabled student in their classroom, it is evident to me the importance of teaching towards different learning styles.  I think that although there are obstacles in the public school environment that may make it harder to help disabled students reach their full potential; the IDEA act has helped it come a long way.  There will always be areas of opportunities when it comes to teaching students with disabilities, however I truly believe we are on the right path as a country.

For my personal professional goals, so far I have decided to be a general curriculum elementary teacher—that is not to say, however, that I will not regularly interact with disabled students.  Part of this interaction is that I am educated on how to include these students into general curriculum.  As we discussed in class the past week, it is essential for there to be support within the schools for teachers.  Support could come from inclusion specialists, the principals, or other figures.  It is also necessary for there to by strong parental communication between the teacher and parent.  Whether the student is considered disabled or not, positive communication between the parent and teacher, in my opinion, will benefit the student by helping build a strong foundation upon which work ethic, academic achievement, and a positive learning environment can be built.  The ingredients of that foundation include strong administrative school structure, well-rounded educated teachers, diverse learning strategies, and parent communication.  Along with helpful legislation that made it illegal to deny students the right to a public education today’s learning environment is catering to an ever more diversifying population of the United States, and I plan to learn to address these differences in both my pre-service teacher education and classroom instruction.

Reference

Ralabate, Patti, and Beth Foley. “NEA – IDEA AND NCLB: Intersection of Access and Outcomes – Introduction.” NEA – NEA Home. N.p., n.d. Web. 2 Oct. 2011. <http://www.nea.org/home/18617.htm>

~ by hgluchow on .

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One Response to “Special and Diverse Needs of Students: Week 5 Blog”

  1. I love that you discuss the many possible refereces for yourself as a general education teacher- I am working towards working with Special Education, and to have the necessity of the relationship between “special eduaction” and “general eduaction” spelled out like this is important. I feel that it takes a community to teach children, and as any type of teacher we must be willing to work together and arm ourselves for that!