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Best Practices in Special Education

Instructor: Marquis Grant
This lesson will highlight best practices in special education regardless of the student's classroom setting. A short quiz will follow that will test your knowledge.

Special Education Classroom Settings

Special education students with disabilities have individualized education plans (IEPs), and they can be served in many types of classroom environments. They can be taught in self-contained classrooms, where they receive specialized instruction from a special education teacher for approximately eighty percent or more of the school day. Students with IEPs can also be serviced by a special education teacher in resource classrooms only for specific subjects like math and language arts, while receiving instruction from a regular education teacher for other subject matter roughly forty to seventy-five percent of the school day.

Other students with disabilities may receive eighty percent or more of their education in a regular education classroom while being supported by both a special education and regular education teacher in what is known as inclusion. Inclusion is when students are educated with their non-disabled peers. When and where students receive their education services is known as the least restrictive environment (LRE). Regardless of the environment where a child is being served, it is essential that you, as the teacher, provide the instruction that will support his or her learning needs in the classroom.

Best Practices in Special Education

Best practices should be grounded in evidence-based research, which has been conducted by several research professionals using various methods of collecting and analyzing data. When you use evidence-based research practices, this ensures that what you are doing with your students has a greater likelihood of working. This is very important when it comes to students who are part of a special education program. Because their IEPs address specific issues they are having in the classroom, it is important that what you do as the teacher supports them academically.

Differentiated Instruction

When planning lessons, teachers should think about what students should take away from the lesson. Once this is determined, you, as the teacher, should then find ways in which you will make learning take place. Children have different learning styles, so your teaching practices should reflect that. By differentiating instruction, you recognize that students sometimes need more than one way of teaching in order to understand a lesson.

Differentiation can take place a number of ways. You can differentiate your teaching style by including visuals, audio or direct modeling so that students understand exactly what it is you are trying to teach them. For example, if you are teaching your class about life cycles in science, a student who has difficulty with comprehension could possibly benefit from having a life cycles poster on display to have a visual that goes along with the lesson. Seeing an actual picture of the cycle may help the student connect with the overall purpose of the lesson. A student with a disability in reading decoding may benefit from listening to an audio that goes along with the text that he or she is reading.

Modified Assignments

Modified assignments may already be a part of a student's IEP. Even if this is not the case, you may want to think about ways in which you can make assignments more student-friendly. When you modify an assignment, you change the way a child is expected to complete it. Consider whether you can find out what a child knows by having him or her answer ten questions instead of twenty? Is it possible for a student to demonstrate what he or she knows orally instead of as a written assignment? These are questions that you should ask when you are creating your classroom lessons.

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