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Philosophy of Special Education
Along my journey as an educator, there have been many people who have sparked my curiosity in special education. When I began as a paraprofessional, the teacher I was assigned to was so passionate about special education, I just could not help becoming passionate as well. Within special education we all have a vision of how we see things or want to see things. We have values that we hold close to our heart that guides us in our practice. Beliefs allow us to be passionate and compassionate to look at things from a different perspective when needed. Every teacher and every student has a role to play in the education process for the success to show in the end. If special education keeps going in the direction it is going things will only improve for those with disabilities.
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In special education we have students and we have teachers. The students have special needs which is why they are in the special education program. It is my vision that students who have specials needs are cared for and taught to their maximum potential that the program can allow. A highly qualified special education program will have teachers who can teach the students in a way that each can learn. The result of this is that each student has the potential to be a productive member of society and be successful enough to reach their individual potential.
It is my opinion that each special education educator foresees great opportunities in working with student with special needs. Every student may have abilities they have not noticed within themselves thus far. It is all about potential. Realizing special needs students all have potential and we as educators, it is our job and for many a passion, to help the student achieve that potential. Different people, whether special needs or not, have strengths and weaknesses. As a special education educator, it is our place to build the strengths or in some cases, natural abilities. Social skills are a persuit that is focused on many times over. It is most important for students to build relationships, whether it is with other peers or with members in his/her community.
It is my belief that no two students have an identical learning style. Something that may work for one may not work at all for another. Meeting each students’ individual needs is a responsibility for all members of a school. Growing a students potential and self-esteem are also important in the students over-all development. It is also my belief that all students have the potential to learn. It is our responsibility as special education educators to unlock that potential and teach these students what they need to be successful.
A special education teacher’s primary role is to provide instruction and support to those students with special needs. In the classroom is it the educators role to help create and put into effect the students IEPs (“Individualized Education Programs” 2019). Observation, testing and evaluation are key to discovering the level of abilities that a student with special needs may hold. Maintaining contact with parents of students throughout the school year can help alleviate stress that many families can feel when attempting to handle a diagnosis they were not expecting. It is also the position of the special education teacher to collaborate with general education teachers who also serve the special needs student to deliver the appropriate modifications and accommodations if needed.
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It is my knowledge that inclusion for special needs students is a positive strategy. Students with special needs have the right to an education in the least restrictive environment. Many positives can come from an inclusion setting. Peers learn from peers. This is when peer-modeling kicks in and proves to work. Inclusive special education theory according to Flanders (2013), is when “all students, including students with the most significant disabilities, are welcomed into a general education class in their neighborhood school.” Inclusion does not only mean that the students are physically present, it means they are included in the activities and inner working of the classroom, the same as other students, but with the availability of support. Flanders (2013), supports the argument of teaching compassion to those students in general education when allowing those students to help children with disabilities with the activity or lesson. Inclusion is not only about the students with disabilities learning, it is also about the general education students learning compassion and even tolerance for those with special needs.
In the 1980s children with special needs where in a self-contained classroom and were not included in the general education classroom. The direction that special education is taking is a positive one. Including special needs students in the general education classroom is the least restrictive environment. This environment allows for the exploration of typically developing peers to work side by side with non-typically developing students in an effort to bridge gaps. I feel like the direction of the programs for special education are heading toward the positive and will likely develop a future of great inclusion and acceptance for those students with disabilities. According to McLaughlin (1993), still relevant today, “The inclusion or exclusion of some or all students with disabilities in various outcome assessment systems has significant implications for special education programs, as well as for individual students.”
My personal philosophy of special education does not come from only teaching. My philosophy derives from experience with students with special needs. In the following discussion I will list my vision, values, personal beliefs on special education. The role and responsibility of the special education educator in the classroom is paramount to the success of children with disabilities in any form. Inclusion theory holds a special place for me as I have seen this do positive things for students with special needs. The direction of the special education programs is heading to new heights and thriving with the help of educators who have a driving passion within to see that their students succeed. In conclusion, there are many things that drive teachers to take on the huge task of educating those students who have disabilities, these are just a few of my own.
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