I have often heard and been told that each and every one of us is capable of success; all one needs is to take advantage of that chance collision with the right circumstances, and we will soar like the proverbial eagle. This all came back to me at some point during and after the special need and inclusion course. Fate, unfortunately, dealt Those with disabilities a bad hand, but that does not mean they should not get to miss out on the part that shapes most of our lives; education. Teachers, me included, will more often than not frown upon the prospect of dealing with students with disabilities. They view it as a burden and hustle than they can do without and would rather avoid. This course freed me of that mentality and made me view these students in a whole new light.
Anytime I saw a teacher that is graciously dealing with students with special education needs there was that feeling that they were these strong characters who had the heart for that type of work.' They had to have a unique mental fortitude to explain to these special students and the strength to keep their emotions in check. However, I have come to shamefully admit that I was very wrong. These teachers were as unique as any other teacher and held nothing special; they were just educating these students, maybe in a more special way that suits the requirements of the SEN students but educating nonetheless. This made me realize that students with disabilities deserve to be given the chance to show; that they can also succeed if given the right environment and that started with the teacher and the attitude they have when dealing with them
The hallmark of teaching SEN students is having a teacher who willingly accepts them. They should have the right attitude when dealing with them and knowledge of inclusive education, and this serves as a measure of said willingness. They say that attitude is everything when it comes to doing or embarking on anything and that statement has never been so true when dealing with students with special needs. My attitude changed during the course of this course and made me realize that these students do not want our pity, which despite their differences they deserve a chance at education and getting the right tools to succeed. They need our help to achieve all these, someone to give them the right guidance as any other student requires albeit in a relatively special way.
Inclusive education involves placing students with special needs in mainstream education. It is a teachers job, my job, to lead by example and show the other students how to treat their special colleagues. The teacher should pass on the message that the other students should receive, welcome and even offer to help them wherever they need it. It is common for the development of negative stereotypes towards SEN students mostly because the other students do not know how to approach and help them. It is a teachers role to help them understand that these students may need a little more effort and time, but they will get there. A teacher can also help the parents understand their children better and monitor their progress at home, and these will even help strengthen the parent-child bond.
During the course, I had some realizations that will stick with me. First was that special needs students do not need the pressure so often applied to the other normal students. The teacher needs to understand them and show them patiently and with a little more effort on how something is supposed to be done. They should be given time to process and be able to do it on their own. The teacher should also believe in and motivate them to trust in themselves to be able to accomplish the task. They should also be sufficiently challenged to go past the barriers of what they believe they can achieve, and this will enable them to accept themselves better. This brings me to a case that help drive this point home. I happened to encounter a student with autistic spectrum disorder (ASD or autism) called Joey. Joey has problems socializing since he was a kid and occasionally engage in out of the ordinary behaviors like growling and clapping with one hand. However, when he was a kid his parents enrolled him in an institution they believed was best for him. Therefore, since he was young, he was surrounded by teachers, students and other people who understood and helped him as best they could. The children in his kindergarten, he remembers, would help him in his assignments and include him in games. This made Joey believe in himself more and also helped improve his socialization skills. He was challenged by his parents to come home with a new word each day, and this helped him greatly. This show the vital role inclusion education plays in SEN students lives.
I came to learn that SEN students should have a tailor made curriculum based on their needs. It should be modified so as to set goals for them to achieve and monitor their progress. This helped me understand better and appreciate the genius that is the Individual Education Plan (IEP). The IEP is a teaching and learning plan tailored for SEN students that sets targets for the students that differ from those used by the other students in the class. These targets can also be an addition to the ones that the student has learned previous sessions. The beauty of the IEP is that it can be used not only by the teacher working with the student but also others that he/she may be working with. The plan informs those dealing with the child of the specific goals and targets set for the student, the ones they have achieved and those they are yet to achieve. This plan also contains vital information about the child like their likes, dislikes and what makes them anxious plus parental information. This plan helped me immensely while dealing with students I was tasked with helping, and it worked very well in helping them reach set targets. This document enables the student to get the most out of their education and can help in raising their self-esteem. Dealing with SEN students can be very enjoyable especially when you help them achieve what you have set. It is an experience that brings joy to all involved especially when the students feel confident enough to do things on their own and be able to know when they have made a mistake.
The class also involved doing a case study of inclusive education in high school. This a good test of all I had learned during the course as it allowed us to see its strengths and pinpoint where it was going wrong and how to improve it. It gave me a good understating of how the whole school from the administration to the students can help students with learning difficulties or disabilities. The case made me understand that inclusive education does not entail only the SEN student and the teacher but the whole school body including non-teaching staff like drivers and janitors. It is a communal effort that makes the child feel accepted in society and give them a purpose in life.
We did look at a universal model of a curriculum that would cater to the needs of special needs students including lesson plans that would enable the tutors and teachers alike better help these students. I realized that this course gives teachers a positive outlook on SEN students which helps in the implementation of inclusive education programs. Inclusive education being the communal effort it is should thus be promoted to the public and all the stakeholders involved. Adequate resources should be provided to those implementing the program for its success.
I can conclude by saying that inclusive education should be a course that every educator should strive to pursue. It will enable teachers to help and understand students with difficulties and disabilities and also change their lives by according to them the gift that will help them succeed. Education is the key to success after all.
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