INED 8760 REFLECTION AND ANALYSIS

DONALD MACK JR.

Reflection and Analysis

Reflections and Analysis
This was a roller coaster ride experience of ups and downs with Students with Disabilities and English Learners throughout this semester. Although I have taught SWD for a few years, it was not until now that I was provided an opportunity to understand the full complexity behind serving SWD and discovering ELs in the school. The dynamics of each discipline although different was very similar in the challenges that were faced by each group. When provided with the task for investigating a specific content, for me I selected math. With this selection I better understood the demands of ELL students not only learning new subject matter, procedures and tasks, but that they have to do so while learning new vocabulary, linguistic structures, and academic discourse. In addition, ELL students at the secondary level may have significant gaps in their prior education that influences their ability to meet the cognitive demands of the high school curriculum (McKeon, 1994). I found this area most troubling for me in that I had no idea of the challenges that EL student faced on a continuous basis. This was magnified as I watched a video English Language Learners: Culture, Equity, and Language, which really moved me emotional as a teacher, because sometimes you just don’t know what you just don’t know. I thought this was a great representation of what ELL experience and provided great role-models for students who face language challenges.


As for the demands of many SWD I was able to better relate due to my regular interaction with students that fall into this category. I did however, understand that there is a third category which combined both SWD and EL, which was discovered through our reading assignments. I was then provided with yet another new discovery that of the EL with disabilities. As I began reading about this segment it provided me with insight on yet another layer of challenges that are faced by this third set of categorized student population.


One of the most challenging but rewarding tasks during this term were the interview reports. This provided not only insight into the world of team-teaching, but also provided me with an opportunity to working on my interviewing skills for future research projects. The experience was amazing in that I was provided with first hand input from actual teachers and had the opportunity to better understand the correlations to many of the reading assignments for this course. I did make some important discoveries that would be useful in upcoming courses and that is to double check my work and ask for assistance before it gets too overwhelming. This term was a real struggle due to illness and family issues, however I was able to persevere and somehow finished the class. I am learning that educational degrees are extremely different from those undergrad years in business administration. The work was very demanding in undergrad, however the emphasis was on presentations, analyzing reports, and use of appropriate formulas for projections. I have enjoyed this class due to the EL content which provided me with insight on this growing segment here in Georgia and discovering how to better apply and relate those concepts and strategies to serve SWD as well.


Reference

McKeon, D. (1994). When meeting common standards is uncommonly difficult. Educational Leadership, 51 (8)

CONNECTIONS

Understanding the world of education appears to be evolving daily as the information surrounding Students with Disabilities (SWD) and English Language Learners (ELL) are continually changing to address the increasing need for services and educators. This course helped to shine the light on the problems that plague ELL. I felt as though this class was thought provoking as it provided insight on the various facets of ELL and the people that comprise this segment. I had thought very little about this area as we do not have a large student population, however it is important for me to understand that I have a responsibility to address the concerns of this emerging population. As one of the major topics facing presidential candidates surround immigration reform, it is becoming more relevant to discuss ELL in school. Being a native of California we have always had a diverse population, but I did not see this as a major problem until I began further understanding the complexity surrounding ELL. Spanish speaking individuals were some of our larger populations back home, but it seemed as though students were receiving the necessary assistance at that time to overcome their language issues. I was able to better understand how relevant EL is to education and how an education system needs to provide services for all student populations. The video and some of the reading material chronicled the experiences of some ELL and provided insight on the struggles and challenges those individuals have, not to mention if they have an added disability as well.


The need for teachers in both Special Education and English Language Learners to be advocates and gain the knowledge necessary to provide acceptable services to their student became more relevant throughout this course. Although much of my studies had focused on Special Education students, the need for attention should also be aimed at ELL as well. It has been shown that in order to effectively implement strategies and techniques in the classroom, effective training needs must be obtained and provided for teachers. I am understanding how reforming the way educational systems address students in special education is accurate assessment of disabilities that take into account the process by which a second language is acquired. And that there is an overrepresentation of bilingual students in special education is that the traditional assessment process cannot adequately distinguish between language acquisition and learning disabilities (e.g. Figueroa, & Newsome, 2006; Klingner, & Harry 2006) that best describes the challenges and continued need for teachers to advocate for students.


This course reinforced what issues must continue to be in the fore front of education which is improved training for SWD and EL educators, as these two growing segments continue to increase in our school. I am looking forward to taking advantage of exploring more on the topics and investigate ways in which our educators can receive the proper training and resources to better serve our students. I am learning the importance of research as it helps in developing new learning strategies and applications that better address the needs of both students and teachers. The field of education is proving to be an area where effective changes can directly and indirectly impact the effective teaching strategies to help student succeed.


References

Figueroa, R., & Newsome, P. (2006) The diagnoses of LD in English Language Learners: Is it nondiscriminatory? Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development, 477, 467-477.


Klingner, J. K., & Harry, B. (2006). The special education referral and decision-making process for English Language Learners: Child study team meeting and placement conferences. Teachers College Record, 108, 2247-2281

English Language Learners: Culture, Equity and Language