The Norman Transcript

Opinion

April 8, 2014

Columnists have it wrong

NORMAN — Editor, The Transcript:

I typically enjoy Class Act (the Q&A with school counselors published on Fridays) very much. I think they bring a rational and empathetic response to parents’ concerns when it comes to the challenges students and families face as they navigate through the elementary, middle and high school years.

Today (April 5), however, I was very disappointed. They write, “We completely agree that team-taught classes — blending special needs kids with regular education kids — is a detriment to students and teachers alike.”

I am a special education teacher with Norman Public Schools, and I have found that the co-teaching paradigm — when appropriately practiced — is a positive experience for students with disabilities and their typically developing peers. Many students in special education have learning disabilities or other impairments that necessitate extra support and accommodations. 

In a co-taught classroom, these students can receive this essential support without sacrificing exposure to the richness of the grade-level curriculum and involvement in deeper questions and discussions offered by their peers in general education.  This promotes the acquisition of analytical thinking and problem-solving in our students with disabilities and better prepares these students for their roles in a society in which they will not be segregated.

Likewise, students without disabilities are provided the opportunity to recognize that differences in certain abilities do not minimize the contribution that students with special learning needs can offer.

Disruptions that affect the learning environment occur regardless of the presence or absence of students with disabilities. In this situation, it sounds as if there is more of a classroom management issue than anything.

If this parent’s daughter is reporting disruptions in the class that affect her ability to learn, then it is the responsibility of the co-teaching team to find solutions. The counselors urged this parent to advocate for her child, and I agree.

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