My Philosophy of Instruction of Diverse Learners by: Hope Andreychak

Overview: My personal philosophy as a future teacher towards special education stems from my personal experience, observations, and the classes I have taken. I believe every child deserves to receive the best education possible, regardless of special needs. People with disabilities have a fundamental right to live and participate in the same settings and programs within the community as do people without disabilities. The most important statement all teachers need to remember is that, “Exceptional children have the ability to learn, to function, to grow, and most importantly to succeed.” Having a disability does not mean that child does not have the potential to learn and to grow. Educators need to look past that child’s disability and focus more on that child as a person.

"A disability is an "ability" to be able to learn"

Inclusion: Growing up, students suffering from special needs were never integrated into the general education environment. I only saw these students during break periods or lunch. I believe this was a disservice to both the exceptional and general education students. All children have certain qualities that make them unique. I have learned that when students with disabilities are included in the general education environment, everyone succeeds. Inclusion benefits both general education and special needs students. Inclusion should be implemented for every child who could benefit from it. As a future educator, I am open to inclusion in my classroom. I have seen in my fieldwork site in a first grade classroom how a bond grows between the general ed and special needs students in the classroom. When all students learn together, there grows a community inside the classroom where all students work as one and appreciating one another's differences.

"Inclusion is a sense of belonging"

Expectations: Educators should hold high expectations for all students with or without a disability. However, teachers also need to set expectations within that child's abilities. Teachers who hovers around students often create an oversupply of assistance that can foster learning helplessness and limit a student’s opportunity to build skills and self-confidence. I have seen teachers solve the work for students with disabilities inside the classroom without reviewing the content. By doing this, this teacher is providing a disservice to this students who did not learn the content they needed compared to their peers. Children learn by doing, not by watching. Furthermore, educators should be open to failure. Encouraging students to push themselves will result in failures. In response to failures, educators should provide support and other forms of scaffolding to help, and then gradually withdraw those supports. This helps the child gain a sense of independence. In the first grade classroom I visited, I saw a young boy with a learning disability try and try again to write his name legably on his paper. Each and everyday, the teacher worked with the child and embraced his failures saying, "I love your effort" and "You are improving so much." By not simply writing the child's name for him and letting him work on it each day, that child now has the confidence and the ability to write his name.

Each Student is Unique: It is important to remember that no two students are the same and that each student has an individual academic ability, achievement level, and individual strengths and needs. I believe it is my job to differentiate classroom instruction to fit the individual learning needs of all of my students. In my fieldwork site, each day was different for every child. While going through the daily routine o work, some students would finish faster than the others and others would have a difficult time with some of the tasks. The teacher then gave each child the time they needed gave the children work who finished tasks early. She was able to keep each child on a different pace while still covering the content for the day. This is how differentiated instruction is extremely effective inside the classroom to accommodate all learners. Educators must remember that the needs of their students will change throughout the course of the year. As educators, we must continue to focus on the strengths of each student and build upon them, creating a stronger student and a person. Identifying the weakness is at the core of getting a student, help with their learning disability, but after this initial identification and placement, the focus should shift to the strengths and adjusting the student’s schoolwork to reflect these strengths. Focusing on a child’s weakness inhibits their ability to learn and to grow as academic learners.

"Each one of us is different. That is what makes us unique!"

Parental Support: Parental involvement in school provides numerous benefits for children without disabilities and students with disabilities. When working with parents, I will create a space where parents and I can communicate fluently and can work as a team to further their child’s performance. I will do so by building rapport, communicating and listening effectively, and respecting where families are coming from in their wishes for their children. In the first grade classroom I observed, I noticed how effectively the teacher communicated with the parents. During breaks, she was responding to emails and calling parents if she had any questions or concerns. She sent pictures home during the day detailing what they were doing and why. The constant flow of information was vital to ensure her students academic success. Without communication from parents, it is difficult to understand where this child is coming from and how you can help. Parent involvement creates a bond between teacher and parent that helps everyone succeed.

Overall: My personal views toward including students with disabilities in my classroom is summarized in the quote above made my Stephen Hawking. No child in any classroom should regret having a disability. Everyone has aspects about them that make them unique. As a society, I feel we need to overcome this stigma that disabled individuals are less than ourselves because in reality, it is us who are less than them if we are criticizing them. Educators, including myself, need to treat students with disabilities as people first and as a person with a disability second. Students with disabilities will always have a spot in my future classrooms.


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