The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act states that students must be educated in their least restrictive environments. Because of this requirement, fewer and fewer students are spending their days with only disabled peers, and more and more are receiving their education in the traditional classroom. Often, inclusion teachers are called upon to help these students learn successfully with their typically able peers. These teachers work with the general classroom teacher and focus specifically on helping students with special needs experience academic success.
Get to Know the General Education Teacher
For inclusion to work as effectively as it can, both the general education and inclusion teachers must be willing to work together cooperatively, says David J. Connor, associate professor of special education and learning disabilities at Hunter College in an article for “Teaching Tolerance.” Connor suggests that inclusion teachers spend time getting to know their general education counterparts before trying to share a classroom. By forming some bonds and developing a mutual understanding of the role each will play, they can better form healthy, symbiotic relationships, which will translate to improved performance.
Though inclusion teachers don’t often teach an entire classroom full of students, they are still responsible for instructing learners. The amount of teaching inclusion teachers do depends on the type of team-teaching set-up the general education and inclusion teachers select. In some situations, inclusion teachers act as a co-teacher, educating classrooms full of students in tandem with the general classroom teachers. More commonly, inclusion teachers focus their instructional efforts only on the students with special needs they specifically are there to help.
Assist in Modifying Curriculum
Under the inclusion model, students with special educational needs are in the same classrooms as typically capable peers. This doesn’t mean, however, that these students will complete exactly the same instructional activities as their peers. To make the content accessible to these learners, the curriculum must be modified. Inclusion teachers assist general education teachers in modifying curriculum, using their knowledge of students’ abilities to decrease the rigor of the assignments appropriately, so the students can complete them successfully.
Communicate with Parents
Though general classroom teachers often still communicate with the parents of the students with special needs, inclusion teachers are often the key contacts these parents have. Inclusion teachers should work to involve parents in their children’s education, states the European Agency for Developing in Special Needs Education. To do this, they should call the parents often, send home notes and even invite them into the classrooms. With this regular contact, they can both encourage parents to become involved and arm them with the information necessary for them to actively help their children.
Erin Schreiner is a freelance writer and teacher who holds a bachelor's degree from Bowling Green State University. She has been actively freelancing since 2008. Schreiner previously worked for a London-based freelance firm. Her work appears on eHow, Trails.com and RedEnvelope. She currently teaches writing to middle school students in Ohio and works on her writing craft regularly.