A resource room teacher’s main function is to provide assistance for students with mild learning handicaps. This can include children with behavioral disorders, mental retardation or learning disabilities. While the goal is to include these students in regular classrooms as much of the school day as possible, these students do require special help. That’s where the special education teacher provides the individualized attention they need to learn.
Federal and State Compliance
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, or IDEA, of 2004, is a federally funded program that sets guidelines for the state departments of education to use in the local school districts. It regulates how to identify special education students as well as how to work with them to help them meet the objectives of No Child Left Behind, NCLB, another federal program. IDEA also regulates how the school handles the privacy of special education students in accordance with the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act, FERPA. The resource room teacher must be aware of these regulations and must plan her lessons in accordance to the guidelines established by her state’s department of education. The special education teacher must keep records for routine state compliance reviews.
Individual Education Programs
Students in the special education program have individual education programs, or IEPs, tailored to meet their specific needs. The resource room teacher works with the parents, the child’s classroom teacher, the director of special education, a school administrator and the parents to develop the IEP. In some instances, occupational and physical therapists may be part of the IEP team. The resource room teacher keeps records of the child’s progress throughout the year, so when the IEP team meets for its annual evaluation of the child’s progress, the teacher can report on successes and identify new objectives for the next school year.
Once the paperwork is in place, the resource room teacher can actually begin to teach. She prepares daily lessons for each of her students. These lessons are similar to those the child’s peers are learning in the regular classroom, but geared to the special needs student’s learning level. The resource teacher may also present lessons in a different format than that used by the classroom teacher. For example, the classroom teacher may expect her students to read a passage before answering questions about the topic. The resource teacher may read the passage aloud or record it for her student. The resource teacher does this for each of the students in her room for each subject they study with her.
The ultimate goal of any special education program is inclusion of the special needs child in the regular classroom. Whenever possible, the resource teacher and the regular classroom teacher team-teach regular and special education students in the same classroom. The resource teacher and classroom teacher work together to design lessons suitable for all the students. The resource teacher provides strategies to make learning easier for all the students. The resource room students may have extra study time later in the day in the resource room to complete tasks they start in the regular classroom.
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