Tag Archives: inclusion

inclusion

This year is different for me as a special education teacher.As previously mentioned, I historically was a resource or pullout special education teacher. I taught my own classes (usually 3-6 kids in each) in my own classroom.

I am now 75% inclusion. I have 2 classes that are pullout, and the rest of my day is spent “roaming.” I go to the classes that my kids are in and try to subtly keep them on track. I respond to teacher concerns about homework, behavior, social skills, hygiene, and whatever else.

I’ve been a bit insecure lately in that I’m wondering if I’m doing all I can to be as best a support for my kids as possible. When I was directly working with them, it was easy because I was teaching them. Now that I’m an indirect support, it is more difficult to gauge whether my interventions are helpful or not.

My kids this year are pretty decent – that is, their behaviors are quite manageable. Therefore, I’m not spending much of my day babysitting kids in in-school-suspension or time-out or whatever you want to call it. I go to classes and the kids are pretty much doing what they’re supposed to be doing. Sometimes one or two redirections is all that is needed to keep them going.

So I feel kind of useless at times.

There are days when I don’t sit still for 2 seconds – these days remind me of the good old days of pullout…

But most days are rather uneventful. It is these days where I question myself and my role in my students’ education. It was my goal at the beginning of the year to be more collaborative with my students’ teachers. I know I’m doing it more than ever, but am I doing it enough? How do I know? Who do I compare myself to? What does good collaboration in inclusion look like?

Part of the problem with this is my philosophy that students are pretty much responsible for themselves at this age (13-15 years), and I will not nag them to get things done. I will make sure the expectation is clear, then allow the student the choice to get it right or mess up. If they get it right, all is well. If they mess up, negative consequences ensue. I sometimes wonder if this philosophy is too “hands-off.” Should I be giving kids more chances? Am I being too passive-aggressive?

I’ve never really seen “good” inclusion in any other schools (student-teaching or wherever), so this is why I don’t have a model to go by. I know there are seminars out there that teach about inclusion strategies, but I’ve had such poor luck with seminars lately that I’m not willing to try one out for this purpose. I look to the experts of the world who can offer some ideas and/or guidelines for what good inclusion support looks like for EBD students who typically fare pretty well. Lay ‘em on me.

Getting Around School

In years’ past, I spent 80% or more of my day at school in my classroom, teaching “pullout” classes. This was my ideal setup because it allowed me to really get creative in teaching all the different subjects to my students – doing all kinds of service projects and technology-integrated projects.

This year is quite different; I have only two classes that I provide direct instruction for – math and social skills. The rest of my day is filled with either:

  1. prepping for the two classes listed above
  2. more so, supporting students in the regular education setting

While this is more limiting of my personal endeavors as the head of the class (and designer of the lessons), it has opened my eyes to other facets of education

    • seeing master teachers at work
    • learning content that I haven’t seen before
    • working with students who are not in special ed programming
    • making connections with music programs
    • connecting with classroom teachers for behavioral supports and academic modifications and accommodations

Today, I felt a little positive feedback for my “increased visibility.” I was walking through the halls and a student asked, “Mr. Malcore, are you planning on working with solo/ensemble kids again this year?”

This probably seems like a really simple, superfluous question to most. I mean, so the kid is wondering if I am going to be accompanying kids for their band solos. What’s so great about that?

To reiterate, I’ve been sequestered to my own classroom for four years up until this year. When I walked the halls, students would ask if I needed to be escorted to the office (okay, an exaggeration). Seriously, though, anytime I walked the halls, students looked at me like a stranger.

This had a number of negative consequences on my day (you can imagine how it feels to walk as a stranger in your workplace for four years).

So, just having someone outside of my program say something to me (not to mention something as reinforcing as asking if I would accompany her solo) adds a boost to my day.

Of course, working with students in an inclusive setting also has benefits for them 🙂