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I will begin my student teaching next fall and have several questions for any...

sweetsugarxox's profile pic

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I will begin my student teaching next fall and have several questions for any experienced special educators. Thanks in advance for any input!

What do you think the biggest challenge in teaching special education is?

Of what aspects of IDEA do you feel the most aware?

How can new teachers stay on top of new developments of special education that impact their role as a general education classroom teacher?

What can classroom teachers do to ensure they are looking solely at student disability rather than student differences when referring a student to a special education screening?


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speamerfam's profile pic

Posted (Answer #2)

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While I am not certified as a special education teacher, I did my student teaching in a high school in which children with disabilities were completely mainstreamed, and at least a few of my classes held about 50% disabled students, including students with ADHD, OCD, autism and bipolar disease. I think the most difficult aspect is the need to differentiate. Each student is completely different, even when they have the same diagnosis. Lesson plans and approach need to account for teaching each of them. But as I went along, I realized that this is true of all students, and what we should be doing no matter whom we teach.

I also learned that students have a tendency to set one another off, not necessarily in a bad way, but nevertheless, in a way that can throw a new teacher off track. I learned that it was easier and better to acknowledge this with a comment about how Mary's behaviour was contagious today, and to ask if the contagion was done spreading.

The students I taught were quite open about their various conditions, and spoke frankly about their problems, not just to me privately, but in the classroom with their classmates. I never had to worry about keeping anything confidential because nothing was confidential.  This afforded me some ease in the classroom in dealing with behavior. I could ask one student if she had take off her patch because I noticed her squirming in her seat. And in fact, if I didn't ask her, one of the other students would. This frankness contributed to the feeling of community in the classroom, and the students all watched out for one another, abled and disabled like.  A meltdown elicited help and sympathy from everyone. 

I feel lucky to have done my student teaching in a situation like this, and I hope you have as great an experience as I did.

terafrayne's profile pic

Posted (Answer #3)

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How can new teachers stay on top of new developments of special education that impact their role as a general education classroom teacher?

Join a professional organization that puts on conferences, provides an online community, and resources to use.

lrwilliams's profile pic

Posted (Answer #4)

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The most important thing about being a special education teacher is showing the students that you care for them and believe in them. Set high expectations and look for ways to help your students achieve these expectations instead of finding all the reasons they can't achieve to higher expectations.

ask996's profile pic

Posted (Answer #5)

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Absolutely set high expectations for your special needs students. Too many times I've seen teachers treat special needs kids as if they aren't capable of learning. One of my push in teachers has even taken the pencil out of a student's hand, erased the wrong answer and written the correct one. That is not necessary. As with any student don't give them the correct answers. Ask them questions that will help them arrive at the correct answer. Good luck, and love your kids.

litteacher8's profile pic

Posted (Answer #6)

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I agree that students should not be underestimated just because they are in special education.  Teach your students to push harder, and don't dumb things down for them.  Don't enable them or baby them.  Teach them to do things for themselves.

lmetcalf's profile pic

Posted (Answer #7)

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As a high school teacher I have learned that one of the best things I can do for special education students, especially those in the mainstream classroom, is to teach them how to be their own best advocate.  So many students can be successful in the right circumstances but they hesitate to use the accommodations that are stipulated as available to them in their IEP. 

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