They may forget what you said but they will never forget how you made them feel.Placing disabled kids in inclusion classes allows them to mingle with their non-disabled peers, a practice that benefits both as the first enjoy a boost in self-esteem while the second learn tolerance toward physical and mental differences. The classroom teacher, however, struggles to adapt his/her lesson plan to address the varied needs of all students. The addition of another teacher, a professional in special education, reduces the strain of differentiated teaching if both instructors mesh in harmony.Success or Failure
At least two key factors will determine the success or failure of the inclusion students: class size and the relation between the two teachers. I have seen huge classes, between 30 and 40 students, and I have worked with ideal class sizes, between 18 and 25 learners. The number of special education kids also intervenes; it should never be more than 25% of the total number of students. Unfortunately, the recent budget cuts for school districts have forced all schools to increase class size and increase the percentage of academically challenged students. I have seen classrooms so packed with kids that simply walking around is a nearly impossible task; it gets worse if a disabled student is confined to a wheelchair. Teachers adapt of course and try to handle large groups, an automatic discipline problem, by dividing them into smaller teams. But the final results for all concerned will be inferior to what can be expected from a smaller number of learners.
They Cannot Fail
A failing grade for an inclusion student can only be given if the child either refuses to work or is absent so often that no learning takes place. I wish to emphasize the fact because many classroom teachers will not follow this rule; it may seem unfair to pass students who have not given sufficient correct answers, but let’s remember that in a few cases, they simply do not possess the ability to understand even when making a serious effort to learn. They should obtain the minimum passing grade as a recognition of their motivation to progress. For example, in some cases we include a modification in their IEP that says “reduced work and assignments by 25%.” If the special education student answers 30 questions out of 40, it will be considered as having answered all of them. Even then, some will be unable to obtain the passing grade and both the inclusion and classroom teachers must discuss the case to determine whether the child has done his/her best.
Working As A TeamAs mentioned previously, the cooperation between both teachers is absolutely essential for the sake of the students; it should transcend simple professionalism and become a common liking and appreciation, while respecting each other’s function. The classroom teacher is the “master” of his/her domain and is ultimately responsible for discipline and grades; but he/she should be careful not to come across as despotic or narrow minded as this attitude usually leads to the inclusion teacher asking for another classroom. We, the teachers, must be student-driven, simply because that is our vocation.