inclusion vs. self-contained classrooms
hi. just want to share my say about the "inclusive classrooms vs. self-contained classrooms" issue which i've seen and heard oh-not-so-many times before.
personally, i prefer inclusive classrooms over self-contained ones. why?
-lowers the stigma of being labeled as a person with a disability
-brings into fulfillment one of the goals of special education - to mainstream learners with exceptionalities into the big world
-learners MAY not be given the specific needs and assistance they need
-more attention is given to the learner with exceptionalities
-learners may be met with shock once they have to face the world where those with and without exceptionalities walk the same road
well, it's just an opinion - one which comes from an incoming third year college student- and it's a bit lacking with information and all. Please share in your comments.
It depends on the severity of the disability. If a child has the ability to communicate with others, and the mental capacity to follow at least parts of what is going on in the room (for example, regular routines), then I can work with that child and modify for them. I have a problem with integrating kids who need lifeskills rooms. If they can`t wipe their own bums or feed or dress themselves because of mental exceptionalities, they need a separate environment (barring kindergarten, where they`re probably not the only ones who can`t dress themselves and wipe thier own bums...which is why I`m not a fan of teaching kindergarten).
Beyond that, I want those kids in my room. Research proves that they achieve more when surrounded by `normal`age peers. with a dedicated EA, most children with exceptionalities -- and I'm talking academic exceptionalities -- can grow and learn and participate in a regular classroom. YES, they should have a dedicated EA and a totally different program laid out on an IEP if they are delayed enough to be considered for a segrigated room, but that doesn`t mean that won`t benefit from being in a regular room. Kids with purely physical exceptionalities shouldn`t even be a question. As long as we can meet basic needs in the room (again, like bathrooming), then they should be in an integrated room.
the one caveat is you have to look at the other kids in the room when you place children like this. you want aq room of fairly good kids who are kind and aren`t going to see this kid as an opportunity to be cruel. If you have high-needs kids already who tend towards bullying behaviours, maybe that`s not the right fit.
Each case is different. If it is a physical impairment and the student is academically within the range of the class, they should be included and provided with an aide if needed to get around. If it is a student with a form of aspergers, most often they do well in a heterogeneous classroom, especially if an aide is there to monitor their behavior and give them the necessary room break (a walk in the hall to release energy). If the student has emotional issues, but is within the learning range of the class, give him/her a chance to be included, but if it becomes disruptive to the educational process of the rest of the class, another setting must be found. This last one has happened to me far too often over the course of my career. This is the one that drives me crazy. If this kid was provided a one on one aide, and could be temporarily removed, then and only then it might work. The student who is more than two years behind definitely does not belong in the so-called normal classroom. We frustrate them academically. They are given differentiated instruction by the special ed. teacher, and they know they are different. I don't think this helps their ego or self esteem. I think if they were instructed from the level they are at, at a pace in which they could learn and apply strategies needed to succeed, they would meet with greater success and have a more positive feeling about themselves. I think these students should be included in phys. ed., music, art, etc. where the expectations are different and the learning modalities are different. Here is where they can mix and mingle with their age appropriate peers. Instead we are foricing them through a system where at one point in time down the road they will probably opt to drop out. So, we have No Child Left Behind, or as a fellow teacher in my school calls it, Every Child Pushed Ahead.
I teach in a self-contained classroom (in a self contained school, actually!), and not one of my kids belong in a regular classroom, for several reasons. 1) None of them are grade level, and probably never will be.
2) They're all socially inept, and struggle with each other, let alone a typical kid who would rip them to shreds.
3) All of them would disrupt a regular education room, with either their behaviors (throwing tables, etc) or their self stimulatory noises or actions.
That's not to say ALL special ed kids should be in a self-contained room. But there are definitely some students that just won't make it.
Special needs children
I believe the decision of inclusion or segregation of special needs children is dependent on the level of disability and support and classroom adaptation required for the child. Some special needs children require ongoing human support and multiple classroom adaptation, which may mean segregation would be the best decision for the child. Some special needs children are able to participate successfully in integrated schooling with some or limited support from teacher aids. This debate will continue, as there isnít one solution for all children, as each child is different and therefore requires a different situation. There will always be pros and cons for both sides of the debate, which is why it is such an argumentative topic.
I have been working with an autistic child for the past two years in a catholic school. He has been provided with an individual education program to assist his inclusion into mainstream education. Everyday with some assistance he is able to complete all daily tasks and routines. It is such a fantastic feeling, to witness his development in any area of learning, especially in confidence and independence.
This really needs to be decided on an individual basis. Some students do well in an inclusion setting, regardless of disabililty. There is also an upside for regular education students being exposed to students with disabilities. Empathy and understanding are two such advantages. Although we do not live in a Special Education world, we do not live in a world where everyone has the same abilities either. I tell my students that their right to act inappopriately ends with other students right to learn. I do think this generation is much more tolerant because of exposure to differences.
At my school we've found the best model seems to be an inclusion of both the special ed teacher, as well as the special ed student, within the regular classroom.
We have (after encountering a few mild bumps in the road) found that both can work together within the classroom and thus give special attention also to students who are not in the program but may be challenged in certain areas. This scenario seems to bring everybody onto the same page (teacher, special ed teacher, regular students, special ed students) rather than the right hand not always knowing what the left is doing.
Also, as Lynn mentioned, the acclimation of the regular students to those with disabilities is very healthy for both.
It took us a few years of meetings, group discussion with parents, online research and experimentation, but this model really seems to work and is quite acheivable with a little effort from all parties.
right now I teach in a self-contained classroom with ED students who were in inclusion classes...I have worked the spectrum of settings: from CDT (clinical day treatment programs) to inclusion.
I hope to finish my career with an inclusion based classroom.
I taught 8th grade language arts/inclusion for three years in Virginia. First period was my inclusion class;and to be honest, this was my favorite class! There were 21 students in total and 15 were inlcusion students. For the first half of the year, the majority of these students felt labeled, but as the year went on, their label disappeared. They felt equal to the other students.
Honestly, I think it is up to the teacher to make sure that each student feels accepted and comfortable in the classroom. As a teacher, make sure that you are not the one setting the label on the child!
An inclusion setting is very important, not only for the students who are there with learning disabilities, but for all learners. Learning to accept one another is very important!
I agree that the decision should be made on an individual basis. I have had several students that can do great in a regular classroom. I modify for many students with IEP, AIP, 504, etc... I have also had students that had no business being in the regular ed classroom. Not necessairly because of their ability level but because of the distractions they have caused. I have absolutely no problem with making necessary modifications but when one student's behavior adversely affects the learning of the rest of the class I have to object to their inclusion. Many classes have been disrupted in the name of inclusion. What about the rights of the other students? Do they have none because they have not been identified as special needs? I believe every child has the right to learn in the environment that meets their needs best. However, those rights do NOT include preventing any other child from learning.
There's my often voiced but little heard opinion.