Monday, April 28, 2014

Why isn't Everyone Included?

Mainstreaming?  Inclusion?  Resource Room?  What are these things and why are they discussed when it comes to placement options for a student with special needs?
A student with an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) has a plan designed for his/her specific needs.  How and where that plan is delivered varies from student to student. 
Mainstreaming involves students who may benefit, socially and/or academically, from participating in a typical," general education classroom.  These students may need some adjustments to parts of being in that class (how the student is assessed, for example), but overall learns alongside the other students, using the same curriculum, same processes, etc.  The adjustments are minor and the student needs to be able to show progress and growth from being part of that class.
Inclusion refers to students who have a been identified with a disability also being included within a typical classroom. One of the biggest considerations of inclusion is to not segregate the students who have disabilities from their peers who are typically developing.  Students may have a modified curriculum from their peers in this class and may not make the same kinds of gains as a child who may be mainstreamed.  With inclusion, students should still be making growth on their academic goals (based upon their individual levels), but emphasis on social skills is highly valued.
A resource room is a location where students receive more specific instruction.  The program provided there is a specialized, tailored program, based upon that student's individual needs.  A student who is part of an inclusion model may need to spend part of his/her day in a resource room.  How long that student is in that room would be based upon what can be modified and accomplished within the typical classroom and what cannot.  It also may be, that for specific students, a smaller, more quite environment may be a better location to deliver specific pieces of instruction.
For students who have more involved challenges, the use of a resource room for the majority (or sometimes even all) of the day may be necessary. For a smaller population of students, none of these options are appropriate.  In those cases, alternative placements may would likely be discussed.

Something to keep in mind: For the purpose of the previous explanations, the word "typical" was used to describe what is considered" a general education classroom."  It is important to keep in mind that, in a typical classroom, with or without mainstream and inclusion, the  students considered "typically developing" still each have their own abilities, needs, learning styles, etc.

Earlier this month, an article was posted on that further discusses inclusion in the classroom. Dan Habib, Filmmaker in Residence at the University of New Hampshire's Institute on Disability, advocates for inclusion and has documented in his films experiences with students living with various challenges. With personal experience, as the parent of a student who has special needs, Dan is able to explain how inclusion worked for his family.  It is a great, quick read.

Learning with Disabilities: One Effort to Shake Up the Classroom

Side note: If you have not yet heard of Dan or are unfamiliar with his work, please take a few minutes to learn about him and his films here: About Dan Habib

Thanks for reading!

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Diane Harrises, M.Ed.



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