In every district lies a problem somewhere. After evaluating my district and speaking to colleagues I identified an area of concern. My colleagues feel like the do not have the proper training to meet the needs of students with Individualized Education Plans or the proper training in instructional strategies. Under IDEA, students must be placed in the least restrictive environment. However, if teachers are feeling stressed with the demands of LRE, without the proper training, how is the student getting properly educated?
Today’s post focuses on a problem I face every day in my district - a lack of proper training to meet the needs of students with Individualized Education Plans or the proper training in instructional strategies. My colleagues constantly cite this issue as the biggest concern. Under IDEA, students must be placed in the least restrictive environment. That’s a great idea, but the teachers lack training to make it effective. If we’re stressed with the demands of LRE without proper training, how are the students receiving a proper education?
The main culprit behind this stress? IDEA 2004, which says students with disabilities are to be taught in their least restrictive environment - inclusion, pull out resource, LLD, and so on. It also says a student cannot be pulled out of a classroom due to the modifications this child needs to excel in a general education classroom. This asks a general education teacher, one without proper training or training in instructional strategies, to make appropriate modifications. Universities don’t stress these areas - someone in a general education program is not mandated to do more than one or two courses in special education. These teachers are the ones who teach students with disabilities under IDEA, so they should have a comprehensive background in this field.
With a lack of training, my colleagues told me they feel overwhelmed and more stressed with a classified student in their class. Proper training could change this. According to a study conducted in Australia, Teacher Training in Special Education on the Attitudes of Australian Preservice General Educators Towards People with Disabilities, teacher’s nerves were eased and they felt competent in aiding students with disabilities after training. Also, under IDEA, teachers must receive training in special education. This evidence suggests that teachers will be more confident to help students in their classroom with disabilities.
IDEA provides districts with funding to train teachers in special education. I propose this solution - the district hires an outside source to assist the teachers. This individual would be a qualified special education teacher who specializes in both the law and instructional strategies. Every week, teachers meet for forty-five minutes for common planning time. This expert can visit each week and meet with the teachers to focus on the law, instructional strategies, and any other particular issue the general education teachers face. In addition, if a certain teacher needs extra assistance, this individual can work one-on–one with a teacher. If we reflect on the study from Australia, this proposal will make teachers feel confident in educating students with disabilities after several weeks of training. If money is tight, the expert can spend ten weeks in each school working with the professionals, educating them before making the switch to another school in district.
This solution works on all levels. Both special and general educators will be on the same page, crafting appropriate strategies to educate students in the LRE. This will lead to more cohesive lesson plans and a better experience for the student. Administrators, who feel pressure under IDEA to show progress, can feel comfortable knowing their staff is prepared to face these challenges. The student and families can take comfort knowing the student’s needs are met. In many cases, this solution can actually exceed the expectations, allowing for further student growth. Finally, the school community improves. Students can remain in their LRE and feel equal to their peers. With a full array of instructional strategies, teachers are ready to include these students. The morale throughout the school improves, leading to a happier student body and faculty.
Why is training in special education so important? IDEA makes teachers and principals more accountable for a student’s yearly progress than ever before. If students are not demonstrating progress, it is no longer on the student - it lies on the school and responsible parties. Everyone is accountable to ensure teachers are making adequate progress. As a result of proper training, educators and principals will have more instructional strategies to rely on to meet the needs of all learners. In addition, they will feel confident in addressing all of the learners in their class. Perhaps students will be able to recognize how they learn as learners and begin to help themselves.
[Modified by: Katie on October 08, 2014 12:03 PM]
I agree on this because I was having a discussion about this the past few weeks in my class. I think if districts will be going to a more inclusion based teaching that general ed teachers need to have some knowledge of what they will be facing with special needs students and IEPs etc.