My beliefs on how children with special needs should be educated has been tested a lot lately. I’ve been hearing a lot lately about how the state has an initiative for all preschoolers with special needs to be educated with their typical peers. I’ve heard that all the research shows this is the most effective way to teach children with special needs. So what they are telling me is that all these years i have been teaching in a way that is hindering my student’s success? I don’t doubt that the research shows inclusion is the way to go. I would also say maybe as teachers, we need to change our thinking some on which children are ready for inclusion. Teachers can be very protective of their “children” and may need to let go a little bit and know it will be ok. But does the research show that it’s the way to go for EVERY child? I like the example in the picture I posted. A couple children go into the doctor’s office all with different symptoms. Would you really give all of them cough medicine to treat their different symptoms? Of course not. So why does education have to give all children the same type of education? Let me put it this way…when picking a college to attend. I knew I would not do well in a large college where class sizes are on average above 50 and the teacher’s barely know your name. I knew the type of college setting I needed was small. If that’s the type of setting that I do best in, how would it be more beneficial for me to be in a different setting? So I feel what the state is saying is who cares what the “symptoms” are, there is only one way to treat it. That my friend is not fair. Great, it’s equal and all. But for some children, it is not fair. Want to know what’s ironic? This poster was put up at a workshop on inclusion for all. Hmm…
As most know, this is personal to me in so many ways. This initiative makes me worry about the student’s in my class being that all of my students have very significant delays. Most of all, it makes me worry about my daughter. Two weeks ago the “typical” students started so she is now part of a class of 15. Though there have been reports of biting, she has not bitten a peer. Though the daily reports say she had a good day, it’s been very vague so not really sure how it is going. I’m trying to hang on to the idea that no news is good news, but I’m not believing it. I guess I will find out more at the follow up meeting in a couple weeks.
Tonight got me though. Tonight was Curriculum Night. The first part of the night we got to go in Courtney’s classroom where the teacher gave a little presentation about the class. She introduced herself, went through the daily schedule and the different curriculums that are used. I sat there and listened to these different curriculums that i know for a fact are way over Courtney’s head. The teacher went on and on about how they are teaching letters and their sounds, how they teach hand writing, how they teach the rules of the classroom. She kept saying, “so if your child comes home talking about this, that is because this is what we are doing”. The only thing I could think of during all of her presentation is this is WAY over Courtney’s head. She is working on things like feeding herself, drinking from a cup, sitting for an extended length of time, not putting everything to her mouth, following directions. Sure, expose her to it, I get it. What was most frustrating though. No where in the teacher’s presentation, did she talk about how she is going to address the needs of the children who are not ready for some of these things. Though she did quickly mention that it was a blended class, from her presentation, it is not taught like it is a blended class. For a blended class, as a parent, I sure felt like I went into the wrong room. I shouldn’t have felt that way.
All this inclusion talk has left me not only doubting my teaching styles but questioning if I’m being a bad parent for thinking my daughter shouldn’t be in a blended class. But I’m sticking to my gut. Cough medicine will not work for a child puking. Blending will not work for a child who is developmentally not ready.