Working with Student with Exceptionalities

Introduction

Students with disabilities require special attention and assistance so as to carry on learning activities as the rest of the students. Teachers and parents should work together in assisting such students. These students are known as students with exceptionalities because they have certain limitations, such as physical or mental, which affect their memory, attention and ability to think constructively. These limitations cause them to learn more slowly than normal students. This paper seeks to explore how teachers work with parents to support student learning for students with disabilities and English learners. I interviewed and observed Ms. Ashley from Ben Sheppard Elementary School for my report.

Part One

Learn more about disabilities

Teachers and parents should work together to learn more about their students’ disabilities. This way they will be able to understand these students better and hence will be able to assist them in the correct way. Without these, teachers and parents may apply inefficient methods of learning, which will be unsuccessful in assisting these students. Parents and teachers should also be keen to teach individual students and therefore identify their individual strengths and weaknesses, interests and dislikes. After doing so, parents and teachers should create opportunities for success by highlighting the strengths and interests of their students. They should also minimize failure by avoiding activities in which individual students have weaknesses or do not have an interest in. Parents and teachers should also identify where the students require attention and particular support and provide it (Dare & O’Donovan, 2002).

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Creating and participating in the students’ individualized education programs (IEP)

The school runs an Individualized Education Program, better known as IEP, for each student. Through the IEP, the learning goals of each student are listed down, the school will provide support and services so as to support the student’s goals. The IEP is created by the collective efforts of teachers, parents and school administration with the inclusion of students themselves. During the IEP development, the teacher has to contribute greatly, including how the program should support him/her in assisting the student. Parents list down their expectations from the school as well as what they hope their children to achieve and learn there. They are also assigned their part of the program including how they should assist their children at home.

Providing extra support to students with exceptionalities

Due to their special needs, students with various disabilities take longer to understand a concept than healthy students. It is therefore crucial to provide extra support to these students. This extra support includes materials, such as giving them the teacher’s note to copy or the class taped recording (Dare, O’Donovan, 2002). Teachers also provide these students with more time to finish their assignments and also breakdown a lesson into smaller units for better comprehension of the taught materials. A teacher can also allow these students to work in groups or with a learning partner. Students with special needs are also allowed to respond in class as to how they understood the lesson.

Providing learning props

Students with special needs learn better when the lesson is more practical and observable. Normally they are not able to understand information that is too theoretical or abstract. The teacher therefore has to invent a more effective teaching method by offering demonstration to explain the theory. For example, the teacher can provide a picture to explain something. To make the lesson more practical he/she can provide materials for students to experiment and enjoy the lesson.

Part Two

In the next session I attended a meeting between the school psychologist and class teacher. I took notes of how the school psychologist supports the teacher to assist the students. The following are some of the ways that the school psychologist supports the students.

Providing a complete school curriculum

The school psychologist works with the teacher to develop learning activities that match the needs of the students. This curriculum involves a wide range of activities that enhance growth, development and learning of students. The school psychologist also works with the teacher to motivate the students to take part in various activities. These interventions help to improve the learning process through positive behavior support that goes long way to improve the academic performance of students (Dare & O’Donovan, 2002). They include reward methods and methods that enhance good behavior. The psychologist also helps the teacher to eliminate barriers to the learning process. These barriers include illness, trauma and family problems. The psychologist offers direct intervention by offering psychological counseling as well as treatment of some illnesses, such as giving diabetes and asthma drugs.

Creating a positive learning environment

Research shows that a conducive learning environment produces good performance in students. The school psychologist works with the teacher to ensure that the classroom environment is conducive for learning. This way the students learn both reading and writing more efficiently. The school psychologist also works with the school administration to ensure safety of the students with special needs. They put up measures to eliminate negative things like harassment, bullying and school violence (Bryant, Smith, & Bryant, 2008). The psychologist also motivates the students and assists them in developing their communication and social skills. He or she assists such students in self-determination, regulation and optimization. The psychologist also assists students with anger management and helps them to be more patient to learn. He or she also assists the teacher to implement corrective measures and discipline strategies so as to prevent the development of aggressive and antisocial behavior.

Creating a connection between parents and teachers

Research shows that good school-home partnership between parents and teachers enhances student learning. The school psychologist works to enhance this collaboration and hence support the learning of students with special needs. The psychologist assesses the development and progress of such students and gets a report from the teacher as well. Both the psychologist and the teacher offer interventions that are designed to give parents an update on child’s development and provide parents with measure on how to support the students to make more progress (Bryant, Smith, & Bryant, 2008).

Creating accountability

The school psychologist works with the teacher to develop an accountability system that helps to monitor the students’ learning progress. The psychologist also helps school administration to collect information on the risks and factors that can help to support student learning outcome. By addressing these factors, the psychologist helps to promote students’ learning progress and general wellbeing. Other roles that the psychologist carried out include observation and feedback from the doctor concerning the effect of medication and therapy, assessing students’ strengths and weaknesses, individual or group counseling, and skill training such as social, organizational and study skills.

Part Three

I attended an event dubbed ‘Sensory Saturday’ and did some more fieldwork at Miami Children’s Museum. This event brought together school personnel, families and community groups for the purpose of supporting students with disabilities and English language learners. It was an art therapy that constituted activities such as yoga, art, music and other sensory activities. The community was able to assist students to develop their senses through art activities (Westwood, 2009). The activities were divided into two main categories: art therapy and expressive arts. Art therapy included such activities as dance, music and drama. They helped children to develop their physical body parts as they engaged in movements and speech.

Expressive arts included activities such as drawing, painting and photography that enable the special students to express their inner feelings. Expressive arts assist the students to develop their mental and emotional nature. By bringing the students, community and school personnel together, the activity was helpful in creating a partnership that assists students with learning disorders as well as other students. Teachers and parents were able to monitor the development of children and motivate them on their progress. On the other hand, the school psychologist was able to observe what an individual student enjoyed or disliked as well as picked their individual strengths and weaknesses (Westwood, 2009). It is for the development of an effective Individualized Education Program (IEP).

Conclusion

Students with disabilities require special attention and assistance so as to carry on learning activities as the rest of the students. Teachers and parents should work together to assist these students, which are known as students with exceptionalities because they have certain limitations, such as physical or mental ones that affect their memory, attention or ability to think constructively.  These limitations cause them to learn more slowly than other students. By bringing the students, community and school personnel together, the community will be helpful in creating a partnership that assists students with learning disorders as well as other students.

References

Dare, A., & O’Donovan, M. (2002). Good practice in caring for young children with special needs. Cheltenham: Nelson Thornes.

Westwood, P. S., & Australian Council for Educational Research. (2009). What teachers need to know about students with disabilities. Camberwell, Vic: ACER Press.

Bryant, D. P., Smith, D. D., & Bryant, B. R. (2008). Teaching students with special needs in inclusive classrooms. Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.