It's confession time on this blog. I don't purposely mean to do this but every school year I just fall into it. Each school year, I start off not knowing much about each student in my classroom. But then I spend 8 hours a day with each student and each day I learn what they like, what they don't like, how they learn and how they react to a variety of situations. I can anticipate reactions as the school year progresses. By Christmas, there is very little that will surprise me regarding a student. I mean by Christmas I have spent over 500 hours with each student and there is more to come. So parents please forgive me my indiscretion.
What really happens in the inclusive classroom? Can the needs of all students be met adequately? Is the teacher prepared for addressing the special needs that arise? As parents you only have what your child tells you. For some parents, your child gives little to no response either because his/her verbal skills are limited and other times because he/she chooses to share very little. Other times, your child gives non-stop information. You hear all about lunch, who got in trouble and snippets about the work completed but you still don't hear how a lesson was taught and if they really learned it. Today you're getting the insider look into a 40 minute writing lesson taught to a group of 25 Grade 4 students in an inclusive classroom. You'll see how the lesson is differentiated to include different learning styles and levels. You'll see the multiple opportunities students have to absorb and practice the lesson. You'll see how the process of writing actually has many parts for students to practice and how it needs to be broken down in order to produce a successful writing piece. You'll see how the effective teaching in an inclusive classroom is more than just about how and what is being taught.
The Individualized Education Plan (I.E.P.) is a key document in a special needs child's education. It is mandated by law to ensure a child is receiving the accomodations he/she needs in order to reach his/her full educational potential. It provides a comprehensive overview of the child's strengths and weaknesses, accomodations needed and applicable teaching strategies. The document is reviewed and modified as needed annually by the school team and parents. The school team usually consists of but is not limited to an administrator, resource teacher, classroom teacher and therapy providers. The timeline for the creation and format of an I.E.P varies depending on the school or district. This document sounds like it will set the tone and foundation for a special needs child trying to succeed in a formal education setting. Yet the realities of the I.E.P process can be fraught with difficulty. It is difficult to write and implement an I.E.P. that has real meaning for the everyday classroom. Here are some of the difficulties I have experienced as a teacher.