Reflections

Special Education in a Normal Classroom Setting

Mrs. Carr's First Grade Class

Mrs. Carr has a class size of 26 with FOUR special needs students in her class. Special needs of the students include: autism, ADHD, learning disabilities, physical disabilities, and a multicultural student.

Afternoon Schedule

1:15 PM - Snack and Brain Break

1:30 PM- Math

2:15 PM- Science

3:00 PM- Story Time/ Reflect on the Day

3:20 PM- Class Dismissed

My Observations

Compared to earlier observations I've made for another course Derby Hills class size was quite a bit larger. Upon arriving Mrs. Carr was giving the students their afternoon snack/ brain break. At 1:30 she asked student to find their seats on the rug, she has a chair set aside for her student with physical disabilities, as Tyler can not get up and down easily. Once beginning her math lesson she also issued "bubble seats" to a few of her students randomly and one specifically for her student with ADHD.

As students answer questions she is sure to give encouragement equally to all students. Two of her students with learning disabilities attend additional Math and Reading help in the morning, but they also participate with the class in the afternoon. If one of these students answers incorrectly, she asks them how they came to that answer and they walk through it together. She always remains positive and encouraging even when the answers are incorrect.

When the students break up to work on their Math worksheet individually, Mrs. Carr is sure to touch base with each of her Special Needs students individually and asks them to tell her what the instructions were and if they have any questions she can assist them with. If they do not complete their worksheet in the time allowed they will take it with them the next morning. One thing I noticed as she would walk around and help her students is when her LD students were having difficulty she would rephrase the instructions or question in a way that they understood better. She would also use more hands on learning when needed. Judah, one of her LD students, was having such a wonderful time doing in and out math function tables so Mrs. Carr was sure to praise him on his great work and asked him to show an example to the class. Judah lit up and was so proud of himself, he has been struggling in math.

In Mrs. Carr's classroom she has one autistic student, Henry, and he is in her classroom full time (next year he will have some time with a special education teacher, so he can better succeed, right now he is beginning to fall behind in a few things). A Para helps through out the day and both Mrs. Carr and her para keep a journal of his day as part of his ILP/ IEP. The last day I was there he began to get upset when something he thought was going to happen didn't, Mrs. Carr calmly reminded Henry it would be ok and asked him he'd like to sit on a "bubble seat" while he waited for the bell to ring. Some other students started asking what was wrong and she just explained that he was disappointed. I was impressed not only at how she was able to diffuse a situation by offering him something he found soothing, but how understanding the class was and how they encouraged him as well. Henry struggles through out the day, but Mrs. Carr is sure to touch base with him each time she gives instructions and to walk through it again with him so he understands.

With the class size and number of special needs students, Mrs. Carr has her hands full on a daily basis, but her patience, positive attitude and encouraging words help her students to learn no matter their needs. Given the class size Mrs. Carr is as effective as she can be with Henry, just from what I observed he truly needs a smaller classroom setting so he can flourish as a student.

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Practical Application: How can I use this information?

Having special needs students within a mainstream classroom can have it's challenges, but if properly equipped I can help those students succeed. The following Advice and Observations I will take with me as I continue my journey to becoming a teacher:


  • Be patient. You set the tone, if you get frustrated so will they, and they will want to give up.
  • Encourage, Encourage, Encourage... did I mention ENCOURAGE them, just because they have special needs doesn't mean they can't learn.
  • Follow their ILP. Special Education Teachers specialize in this area, follow the ILP and communicate concerns to the Special Ed Teacher and Parents.
  • Listen to the student.
  • "Bubble" seats, such an awesome tool, implement things such as this for those students who have a hard time sitting still.
  • Reword instructions in a way the student understands, keep it simple.
  • Acknowledge successes, no matter how small.
  • Treat all of the students the same when it comes to discipline and expectations.
  • Smile and have fun!

The "Legal" Paperwork...

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