Observations in Settings Serving Children with Disabilities I had the opportunity to observe two settings that serve children with disabilities and special needs. It was a very fruitful learning experience for me as my perspectives on special education became richer…
It seemed like a typical class where the teacher discussed lessons with the children and the children actively shared their ideas. Later, the teacher distributed some worksheets and asked the children to work in pairs. I was told by the teacher that she had pre-arranged the pairings in various ways depending on her goal for the students. The children with special needs (1 had ADHD and the other one had some cognitive delay) were given modified activities and paired with high performing students to help them out by peer tutoring. Once the children started working, the teacher went around the room checking on each pair, stopping once in a while to help those who need help or asking questions to guide the children. The children with special needs do not stand out. I would never identify them as such had I not been told they had special needs because they blend in so well with the typically-developing students. The second setting was a one-on-one session between a 7-year old boy with cognitive delay and a reading specialist. She was trying to teach him phonetic sounds. She showed him some letter cards and asked him to sound out the letters. First it was done slowly with the teacher making the sounds while showing the cards and he imitated her. Later on, she kept showing him the cards and expected him to sound the letters by himself. Next came picture cards that he needed to identify and match the initial sound of the word with a letter. She started with only 3 pairs of picture and letters graduating to about 10 pairs at a time. The boy seemed to have a difficult time processing the pairings because it took him a long time to match the cards, but the reading teacher was very patient. My initial reaction to the observation was pure awe. I was so inspired with how these teachers can be so patient and understanding in helping out the students with special needs and they go out of their way preparing special activities for them. I thought they meticulously planned ahead in order to meet their needs and for the teacher of the inclusive class, to address each child’s need. I realized it takes special training to do what they do and a passion and commitment to do so. With the inclusive class, the teacher had to contend with multiple personalities and consider each student’s skill level so she can pair them off well. That meant she had previous knowledge of these children and have assessed them thoroughly. It seemed her pairings worked because I observed all the children productively working together. The partner of the child with ADHD was also very patient in holding his attention, often tapping his shoulder to make him focus on their task. I am not sure if this partner or any of the other typically- developing children were trained to deal with peers with special needs, but this boy seemed to know how to handle the hyperactive tendencies of his partner. The partner of the child with cognitive delay likewise displayed patience with her partner. She was like a miniature teacher going through the activity with him, asking him guiding questions so he can come up with the solution. It was obvious that she already knew the answer, however, she wanted him to figure it out himself. I saw a smile cross her face when he was able to answer the problem correctly. The reading teacher, on the other hand, worked only with one child, but I think it took much effort in guiding him. She poured all her concentrated effort on him without being distracted. ...
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