As a secondary education teacher I will be very affected by IDEA in particular. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act ensures that students receive FAPE, and promotes inclusion. Students are to be in the Least Restricted Environment. For many the LRE is in general education at least some of the time.
Which means I will have many students in my classroom that have IEP and 504 plans, and thus, require accommodations and modifications.
This may require setting up seating charts, allowing the use of talk-to-text or text-to-speech devises, learning how/when to head-off behavioral incidents, or even allowing students to leave the room. Instruction-wise having exceptional students may mean:
- Giving more time for assignments/exams
- Excusing smaller assignments so that students can focus on key projects
- Creating lecture notes or talking points
- Giving portions of exams orally
- Differentiating readings
- Pre-teaching vocabulary
- Modeling reading strategies (think-aloud)
Teaching exceptional students also means working with Special Education teachers and service providers (such as speech pathologists). Additionally, it means attending IEP and 504 meetings, which parents and/or students will attend, as well as administration.
IEP and 504 plans are legally binding documents, that as a general education teacher I must comply with. Once accommodations/modifications are determined I can't decided that they are an inconvenience and just not do them. So, I'll need to know which students have IEP/504s, what accommodations/modifications they require, and then figure out the best way to implement those in my classroom. I'll also have to pay attention to whether or not those accommodations/modifications are working, and call a meeting if they aren't so that the plans can be changed.
Even though most children who need special education will be found before reaching secondary schools, I need to be watchful of student who are struggling. If I have a student in my class that is struggling and I make an accommodation for them, I need to document that and have the student evaluated for a 504 or IEP so that that modification will follow them as they change teachers.
I'm sure that there are probably other ways that ADA and IDEA will affect me as a teacher, but these are the highlights. Undoubtedly, once I start teaching I'll have more examples to add.