Inclusion Depends on Teachers

It's OK to have high expectations, but your students should always come first

It’s OK to have high expectations, but your students should always come first

I agree with the idea of inclusion.  Any mother of any child with special needs would.  Ideally, I would want my child to be in the least restrictive environment, meaning a general education classroom.  I would hope that that general ed classroom could meet the needs of every child within.  Every parent hopes for that.

But that ideal is rarely found in reality.

This is due to lots of factors, but I can tell you that the number one predictor of a student’s success in the classroom is the teacher.  It is a proven fact, and I have enough of my own life experience that tells me it is true.

The ugly truth is that there are teachers who make their rooms an unwelcome place for kids with special needs.  And in reality, those teachers are making their rooms unwelcome for any student who struggles.  And that means inclusion just can’t happen.  When this teacher is the only one who teaches the subject in the school, it means that subject is not accessible to any special needs student in the school (and probably fewer general ed students, as well).

We’re having a meeting with the principal and vice principal, the autism program teacher, and the county autism specialist, and the band teacher on Wednesday.  I want my son to have access to the instrumental music program.  I fear he has lost interest because he knows this teacher sees him as a “problem” and has made his room unwelcome.  I want it on the record that this teacher has allowed this to happen, no, that he has designed his classroom to be unwelcome to students with special needs.  I want it noted that he hasn’t provided the accommodations and modifications that are my son’s right, per his IEP.  I want everyone there to know that I offered suggestions to alleviate some of the difficulties he is having, and they were ignored.

I want all of this on the table, because it isn’t right that band is virtually inaccessible to special needs student at this school.  Even if my own son decides not to continue because of what has happened this year, I want these “exclusive” behaviors exhibited by this teacher to be on the radar of those in charge.

It would be easy to quit, to pull him out of this hostile environment.  But we won’t go without a fight.  Every child has a right to the curriculum taught in that classroom, and he shouldn’t be allowed to continue his behaviors that exclude any part of the student population.

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7 thoughts on “Inclusion Depends on Teachers

  1. Have you considered that the Band Teacher might just have a point?

    *You* were sick. Your Boy wasn’t sick — he could (and should) have practiced and taken his music test.

    (Even assuming your illness is a valid reason for the Boy not doing his music, at a minimum you — or he — should have formally requested an extension for the music test. It is unreasonable to assume that your illness wordlessly “counts” as a get-out-of-music-test-free card).

    • Wow. Really? Most kids with autism need assistance with any work they do, let alone homework. They have poor executive functioning skills, and many have a strong aversion to doing any work outside of school, meaning that any type of homework involves one-to-one coaching, including incentives and breaks. This is more than my 12 year old with autism could handle. If you read the post (or the previous one), he did attempt to play his test, even before anything was communicated to me about a test, and was unable to do so. I did request an extension when I first learned about the test (did you read the post at all??), and I am not looking to excuse him from this test, merely asking for time to prepare him for it, and asking the teacher to consider other options for testing him.

      You clearly didn’t read the post, and you clearly know very little about IEPs or students with special needs like autism. I would hope that you would do a bit more reading before coming to my blog and trying to make me feel like a bad parent. I’m curious… Are you a teacher?

    • I think there are teachers out there who see students with IEPs and 504s as more work. I think there are teachers out there who see those kids as getting unfair breaks. I see both of these types of teachers as a very real obstacle to inclusion.

      • I think students who have IEPs and 504s do require more work. As do kids who are below level in reading, or math, or have emotional or behavior problems, for whatever reason. But I don’t think that a teacher who thinks it requires more work is the obstacle. The obstacle would be how that teacher views the extra work. If they view it as part of their job (all in a day’s work), it’s okay. If they view it with a long suffering sigh, then it’s an obstacle. I did a collaborative class a couple of years ago and it was a hell of a lot of work, more work than I’ve ever done with a non-collab class. BUT, it was my job, and it helped the kids succeed, and that’s what needed to be done. If you get a teacher who sees it that way, you have a teacher who does the best for every kid. If you don’t, then you have serious problems, and probably have a teacher that shouldn’t be in the profession.
        And yes, if you have a teacher who thinks those kids are getting unfair breaks, then you have a really serious problem.
        And I was hoping this school would work better than the last.
        I hope your meeting goes well. 🙂

      • Good point, although I think that if you design your lessons using something like Universal Design for Learning, it isn’t more work, it’s smarter work, because your lessons are then accessible by students of all levels.

        This school is awesome!! Don’t get me wrong. We’re just having an issue with one teacher. I hope to do some enlightening on Wednesday morning, and if we can’t then we’ll have to decide where to go from there. One step at a time. 🙂

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