Cultural and Disability Awareness

For Exceptional Learners

Anastasia Hildner, Nichole Garland, Jennifer Weibye, & Andreas Damianides

Advantages and Disadvantages of Consultation and Collaboration

The following advantages demonstrate the benefits that consultation and collaboration can offer to exceptional learners:

  • When working together, teachers provide support for each other
  • With collaborating with one another, regular education teachers will better understand what Special Education (SPED) teachers do
  • SPED teachers have time for other obligations with the help of aides
  • Regular ed teacher have more control of classroom with help of aides
  • Regular Education teachers can use SPED teacher as a resource
  • Aides help relieve teacher's stresses without student suffering
  • Teachers work in teams to accomplish common goals for students
  • Being in the regular education classrooms reduces stigma of "SPED" label
  • Regular education students will benefit from extra assistance in the classroom, they will receive more individualized services
  • Students take on more responsibility for their success and phase in with peers
  • May bring culture, race, gender, age differences to the classroom
  • Variety of teaching styles


The following are downfalls of consultation and collaboration for the exceptional learner:

  • Co teachers may not have time to plan
  • Co teachers may have different ideas about expectations
  • Some classrooms may not have additional space for teachers and supplies.
  • Consultant teacher does not have opportunity to instruct students directly.
  • Hard to find time for all members of team to get together and discuss problems to find solutions.
  • Teachers need time to plan with the team, or preparation will be inadequate for students.
  • Transitions to expectations of general education classroom may be overwhelming for some students.
  • Possible personality conflicts

Parental and Staff Contribution to Student Success

One of the largest determining factors of children's success is dependent on parental involvement, including parental motivation. Parent involvement is not only important for students to get the extra help in a certain topic or area, receiving support both at school and at home. Parent involvement is also important because parents may be the ones that are telling the student to stay focused and that school is important. Students need to stay focused on the end goal of graduating from high school, and parents are there to help guide and support them. Encouraging your student is half of the work for parent involvement, because they see that it really matters. The following is more support how on parents contribute to student success:
  • Parents know their child better than anyone, their knowledge, support and help can be extremely beneficial in the classroom
  • Use parents and staff as a resource, they all see the children in different types of stations. Listen to their observations and ideas.
  • Establish a team approach with families and staff members. They can help reinforce, support, and encourage the child to succeed.
  • Students making connections with other staff is beneficial as they can make connections, possibly share common interests, have similar likes and dislikes. It all contributes to the child trusting an adult who will support their learning.
  • With families, be consistent and enlist their help when the student is at home. For example, reading 20 minutes or practicing math facts.

Processes for Transition to Various Settings

A successful ingredient for transitioning is a Transdisciplinary Assessment. This includes a variety of school (teachers, counselors) and community personnel (social service agencies, employers) and parents. The assessment should address:
  • Academic Skills
  • Daily Living Skills
  • Personal and Social Skills
  • Occupational and Vocational Skills
  • Career Maturity
  • Vocational Interests

IDEA requires schools to provide services to help aid in a successful transition to post school activities such as work, continuing training/education or community living. Parents play a large role in this process, they should be encouraged to share about their child's needs, interests, strengths, etc.

Health Care Needs

The Council for Exceptional Children thinks that having a medical diagnosis that requires special health care needs does not necessarily qualify the student for special education services. Students with health care needs require specialized technological health care procedures for life support and/or support during the schools day. The Council believes that schools and agencies that serve students with health care needs should:

  • not exclude a student from special education or related services.
  • not exclude a student from consideration of education in a least restrictive environment.
  • not require educational agencies to assume financial responsibility for related medical services outside of the agency.
  • clearly define type, nature and extent of appropriate related services to be provided.
  • promote a safe learning environment, including a clean environment to minimize health risks.
  • provide assurance that health care services are delivered appropriately.
  • provide appropriate medical and legal information about the care of students.
  • provide support services for families, students and personnel involved with students with health care needs
  • Provide appropriate and safe transportation.


Activities that Promote Career and Vocational Awareness

To make sure that you are preparing your students to be career and vocational ready you need to make sure that you are preparing your students for all different aspects of readiness. This means you need to prepare your students in:
- Academic Readiness: This means students should have the necessary study skills and literacy skills necessary to succeed in the academic world
-Admissions Readiness: Students must have the necessary prerequisite skills and coursework required to be admitted to any additional programs they may seek
-Career Readiness: Student must possess the executive functioning skills that allow them be productive members of the workforce
-Financial Readiness: Students must have budgeting knowledge and healthy lifestyle and spending habits in order to properly function in today's society
-Social and Personal Readiness: Students must be taught compassion, humility, collaboration, and variety of other emotional and interpersonal skills that make civilization possible


In addition to skill development, providing students with exposure to a variety of career options allows them to pursue choices they might have otherwise not known about. Some courses that provide that exposure are:

  • Foods and culinary courses
  • Early childhood development courses
  • Pre-professional courses (Healthcare, Education, etc.)
  • Woodworking
  • Auto mechanics
  • Art courses
  • Pre-business courses (Marketing, Accounting, Economics)

Paraprofessional Role in Special Education

Paraprofessionals help children achieve and maintain their goals. They work with students in all ability levels. They often do hands on projects that help solidify the lesson idea. Paraprofessionals are there to assist the teacher in tasks that are hands-on with the children. They spend majority of their time (90%) with the children, some time with supervision (5%), and the rest on administrative tasks (5%). These paraprofessionals are most often assisting those students who are lower academically, because these are the students that need the most assistance. a paraprofessional's main goals are time is spent with the children and helping the children, especially the lower students. Paraprofessionals are supposed to collaborate with the teacher and help create the best learning atmosphere for students.