How does a teacher integrate special needs children in school? That question has been on the minds of teachers ever since special needs children were integrated into the public school system in the late 1950’s. Many avenues have been explored and many roads have been traveled to make sure these children are not only integrated but also accepted.
In the 1950’s children were kept segregated in their own classes in order for them to learn at their own pace. Later it was determined they needed to spend some time in the mainstream classes. The concept was good on one level and detrimental on another.
The level on which the mainstream was good was the fact the children were exposed to socialization in society. They were supposed to be learning how to handle life with what we would call normal people. However, due to the lack of education on the part of the normal students, most special needs children were still isolated. The teachers and students did not know how to deal with the special needs children. They did not learn on the same level and they might have looked different, sounded different and acted different. This led to anti social behavior on all sides.
This brings us back around to the question at hand. How to integrate special needs children in school. The first step would be to have continuing education made mandatory for mainstream teachers in the special education field. They have to learn how to deal with all sorts of special needs, from the ones they can not physically see to the ones they can. They have to learn how to spot the early signs of behavior to how to communicate with a child who can not see or hear. They need to learn this for several reasons.
1. They become aware of the child as an individual. The child is not lumped into a box.
2. They become proactive in heading off any problem that might arise in the class room if this child is having an off day. They become proactive by gaining knowledge about that particular child’s disability with this knowledge comes wisdom.
3. The teacher uses her knowledge to teach her other students about the child who has special needs. She teaches them how to accept this child and how to bring this child into the society of the class room for who they are. She teaches the class how to understand that the special needs child brings things to their classroom society that are productive and worth while. While she is teaching the other children these lessons, she is teaching them how to be accepting of themselves. This will also teach all of them how to excel in their education.
This teacher’s class will gain a higher standard by example and acceptance.
The special needs child will both teach and learn. The teacher will have integrated this child into the school room society and the other children will not only accept this child, they too will teach and learn.
We have to give our teachers the empowerment they need in order to fully be able to integrate our special needs children in school. We can not longer give lip service to this. Our special needs children bring many things to the table for our future. If we don’t empower our teachers we lose part of our future. So let our education system spend less time on paper work and more time on teaching the teachers.