Students with disabilities face some challenges in their day-to-day activities in school. The students can benefit from the modification of the classroom environment so that they are capable of acquiring information just like their peers (Picard, 2015). This paper presents a reflection of my experience in teaching students with disabilities and similar students. My philosophy states that I should give all students I come across the best education that I can regardless of their backgrounds or physical challenges. This belief gives me the desire to attend to all the students in my class whether disabled or not. My typical day starts with organizing the classroom to ensure that there no obstacles that can bar the students from being fully functional or cause unexpected accidents.
In the lesson plan, I always ensure that in the testing for the understanding part I formulate questions that all students can answer. The teaching methodology also involves special techniques to reach out to the disabled. I encourage all my students to set goals and help them out in the process of achieving them. At the end of each class, I give the students a chance to answer questions, and there is a test for each chapter covered hence I apply both summative and formative assessment. The lesson plans involve learning outcomes that the learners should be able to achieve by the end of the lesson. The disabled students are likely to be overtaken by others in answering tests (Smith, Polloway, Patton, Taber Doughty, & Dowdy, 2015). However, I ensure that questions alternate between the disabled and the non-disabled to avoid partiality.
The process of teaching requires that ideas are related to each other, and the relationship should be clear to the learners (Arends, 2014). The subtopics I am to cover link with the previous lesson, and my classes usually begin with a recap of what I taught in the last lesson. I state the learning outcomes in a clear way such that students can grasp what they ought to know and even answer any questions at the end of the lesson. The lesson plans which I create are consistent with what is required by the school of education at the University as the objectives are specific, measurable, attainable, and realistic and time bound. My training in teaching at the University and the knowledge I have concerning the subjects I teach has helped me in teaching. I read on my own and practice before a lesson hence I don't need to use a textbook as I teach most of the times. I use the buddy strategy in teaching my students.
The buddy system ensures that the non-disabled students can help out the disabled ones in their work including the use of specialized equipment (Picard, 2015). It has proven to be efficient in most schools which use this approach. The students without disabilities in my class help the disabled, and in return, we move forward as a class without leaving anyone behind. In case a student is left behind, I take the time to repeat what I have said to achieve the goals and objectives set for the lesson for the whole class. Interaction with individual students helps the teacher to understand more about their disability and formulate measures that maximize their class participation (Smith et al., 2015). The buddy system has been of great help as I do not have to move around the classroom helping out each student as the peers do so. The buddy system is very useful in teaching, and as a result, I put the students in small groups in which they discuss and give feedback.
Active learning brings about the achievement of the set objectives (Arends, 2014). Evaluation of learning is necessary to ensure that the learners were able to understand concepts. At the end of every lesson, I ask the students questions that I derived from the objectives outlined in the lesson plan. I give the students time to reflect on each question through a brief silent moment after which I select one to answer. I carry out a formative assessment after the lesson which is composed of questions addressing the day's lesson. Summative assessment takes place at the end of every chapter (Smith et al., 2015). I give the students questions derived from the whole chapter to answer in their books.
Also, my previous training on carrying out formative and summative assessment has been key to the student evaluation that I conduct. The IEP goals and objectives have helped me in the formulation of assessment techniques and their implementation. The students demonstrate good attempt in explaining from the answers provided for each question. The learners can grasp the content taught according to their study level. I usually state my outcomes in measurable terms and avoid ambiguous terms like know and understand while setting the class objectives. In a communication of the results of the assessments, I don't state that the students have failed by I communicate to them that they deviated slightly from the question so as to keep them motivated for learning. Sometimes I encourage the learners to set and answer questions on their own to widen their knowledge. I evaluate the kind of questions that the students set for themselves and the responses given offering them possible alternatives if any.
Learning requires the use of horizontal and vertical articulation of information to boost the learnerst experience (Arends, 2014). The students need to connect information from various classes and subjects so that they do not get confused. At the beginning of every lesson, there is a recap of the previous class. I ask the learners to explain what we learned the last lesson to determine if they forgot or not. I expound slightly about the last lesson before going to the next after the learners are done answering and reporting on the previous class. Disabled students often find it difficult to follow the procedure during the experiment (Picard, 2015). I always give an outline of the process that is to be carried out before implementing a step by step approach. The students have challenges when we write one action and apply it, but alternatively, when we list down the steps and start following them, they understand better.
Teachers should communicate with the learners clearly, avoiding unnecessary jargon and providing explanations of any new terminology that they come across during the class (Picard, 2015). The learners have an opportunity to reflect upon the lesson before I can ask questions at the end of the class. Using this strategy has enabled my students to recapture as asking questions immediately might leave them confused. I use a fast teaching tempo for the simple information and a slow to moderate pace for the advanced or complex concepts. For instance, when I perceive that the students do not get what I have just said, I slow my teaching pace and repeat what I had stated in a simpler language. The educational materials that I use in teaching are those approved in the curriculum for the level of my students. The textbooks that I use have questions at the end of each subtopic covered, and these give an opportunity for the learners to reflect. The teaching guides which I use have an activity section which outlines some questions and activities that the students can be engaged in.
A conducive learning environment is critical for effective learning (Arends, 2014). I usually ensure the safety of the environment by making sure that there are no objects that pose a risk to students. Any additional information which I give to the learners is culturally acceptable and not ethnocentric. I warn students against discrimination and encourage them not to discriminate against others by being disabled. I support all the students in behavior change especially those that are a nuisance. The school should ensure that the learners have adequate learning materials and special equipment for those with special needs so that they maximize independence (Smith et al., 2015). We have a classroom routine whereby a typical lesson begins with a short report about how the learners are doing, then a recap of the previous lesson. We then embark on the current lesson after which students have a reflection time trying to analyze what they have learned. I ask questions to assess the understanding level of the students. During some classes, I discuss with the learners on how to solve different problems and find ways of addressing issues that they present through an interactive session. I emphasize that the students should not react to problems and conflict but should take time before making any responses as this helps avoid any regrets of acting before thinking.
A reflection is a valuable tool for any teacher so as to be effective (Arends, 2014). Reflection has enabled me to identify the impact of my behavior, teaching strategies and preparedness on the ultimate goal of producing the best students not only in academics but also behavior wise. I have learned that reflection helps identify mistakes that a person can avoid in the future. In my early teaching experience, I felt that the students with disabilities should have their class as a measure to reach them independently, but the general strategy in the code of ethics reminded me that the students should learn together. I like being a role model in whichever capacity, and this has helped me learn to exhibit values like honesty, integrity, and confidentiality.
The temptation to disclose student information to my peers outside school is always there, but I have learned to maintain confidentiality. The educational needs of my learners are a priority to me, and I usually avoid situations where I would be away from school for a long time as switching of teachers confuses the students. There was a time when one of my student's books got filled up in the course of the lesson, and I had to give him a book so that learning could continue smoothly. In responding to problems in the school environment, I encourage students to remain in class in case of technical lighting problems even when they ought to be outside the class to avoid any injuries. In case a student gives a fake excuse to be absent, I deny them the go-ahead as the policies of the district and school do not allow such behavior. We have agreed with some other students from our university to keep track of our teaching experience so that we can compile them at the end of the year and make recommendations on alternative measures that can be taken to solve the problems.
Arends, R. (2014). Learning to teach. McGraw-Hill Higher Education
Picard, D. (2015).T Teaching Students with Disabilities.T Vanderbilt University. Retrieved 12 April 2017, from https://cft.vanderbilt.edu/guides-sub-pages/disabilities/
Smith, T., Polloway, E., Patton, J., Taber Doughty, T., & Dowdy, C. (2015).T Teaching Students with Special Needs in Inclusive SettingsT (1st Ed.). Virginia: Pearson Education.
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