With an increasing push for the inclusion of students with severe disabilities in general education classrooms suprisingly, a number of educators (both general and special ed.) feel underprepared to educate students with disabilities in inclusive environments.
How Can This Be?
For starters, many university teacher education programs do not require or offer coursework related to inclusive practices. Specific training is needed if teachers are expected to reach the wide range of learners in their classrooms. Certification requirements are different for special educators than general educators which is understandable, but with the line between general and special education becoming increasingly blurred, some of the coursework needs to overlap. Special educators could benefit from coursework related to content and curriculum development, where general educators could be benefit from courses related to adapting content and assistive technology. If educators are expected to provide inclusive programming for students with disabilities, this shift should be evidenced in University Teacher Education Programs. There also needs to be effective, accessible, ongoing professional development implemented that is related to inclusive strategies that fosters collaboration among educators. How can educators be expected to meet this challenge when resources and training are not in place? Implementing effective inclusionary practices requires a shift in thinking and the collaboration of all parties involved. It’s not something that can happen overnight. There a few states that have successfully implemented inclusive programs. Check out the University of New Hampshire’s Institute on Disability: National Center on Inclusive Education.