Voices Vol 41 No 3

 

SPECIAL INTEREST GROUPS: Special Education

The Role of the Inclusion Teacher and Its Impact on ELL Students

By Alan Rasmussen

Now more than ever the Inclusion Classroom Support teacher plays a critical role in the success of any inclusion classroom. The relationship between the subject area teachers and the ICS teacher must be one that fosters compromise, flexibility, and the willingness to accept change. The expectation is that the inclusion teacher be proactive and dedicated to the task at hand, while working closely with all teachers on the team. No longer can this be seen as an easy task with less responsibility than the subject area teachers.

To effectively serve the students’ needs, all teachers involved must be committed to the process of planning, implementing, and reviewing instructional practices. The inclusion teacher’s input is vitally important when it comes to planning lessons so that the needs of the resource students are met according to their IEPs. Furthermore, the inclusion teacher must know beforehand how the lesson will proceed, so that proper accommodations and modifications can be met. During and after each lesson, time should be committed to the review of effective strategies and ways to improve the lesson in the future. This will help to foster an atmosphere of trust and respect where the inclusion teacher feels empowered to effectuate change, while providing the  subject area teachers with competent in-class support. For more information, Vaughn and Bos (2009) provide many meaningful suggestions on how to implement effective team teaching strategies when collaborating with the subject area teachers.

When Special Education ELLs, or English language learners, are placed within an Inclusion classroom, the ICS teacher’s main focus will now include these resource students, as well. Moreover, a potential benefit of this situation is the greater availability of the subject area teacher to meet the needs of other ELL students, who may require some additional support, especially early in their transition to a regular program. Having a lower teacher to student ratio offers the teachers greater flexibility in the way the class is structured, thus enabling the teachers to readily address the concerns of all students.

Increasingly, schools are placing an emphasis on student engagement and discourse whereby ELL resource students may be more inclined to participate and interact with their peers in this setting. Again, the ICS teacher’s role will help to foster an atmosphere of trust and mutual understanding within the class. If we, as teachers, are to create an environment where all children can learn, then we must remain cognizant of the role each of us plays in the success of our students. When all teachers on the team work together, the class dynamics will improve and the students will benefit from this collaborative team approach.

The following websites provide more information related to this topic.

http://nichcy.org/schoolage/effective-practices/coteaching
http://specialed.about.com/
http://www.ncset.org/publications/viewdesc.asp?id=1097
http://www.projectchoices.org/

Reference:

Vaughn, S., & Bos, C. S. (2009) Strategies for Teaching Students with Learning and Behavior Problems, Columbus, OH: Pearson

Guest writer for the Special Education SIG, Mr. Alan Rasmussen is a Social Studies teacher for the Perth Amboy Public Schools. He can be reached through cplata@njtesol-njbe.org