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.
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.
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.