Students with disabilities (SWDs) require special education treatments since various societal factors affect their routine behaviors. Many societies are diverse and composed of people from cultures. Therefore, some practices may not conform to the expectations of the SWDs. While some languages support and encourage SWDs, the use of specific words may emotionally torment the students. Meanwhile, a student’s cultural and family background is crucial for their perception of various things. The teachers should understand the culture to positively impact SWDs’ life perspectives. The Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) code of ethics has principles that are crucial for special professional educators. Understanding diversity promotes students’ confidence, performance, and wellness. Consequently, professional special educators should collaborate when teaching SWDs. Therefore, understanding diverse cultures and family backgrounds among the SWDs boosts collaboration among educators, promoting students’ and societal success.
Understanding Diversity and Inclusion
Influence of Societal Factors
Language and Culture
Language is a crucial societal factor that determines individual students learning and development. Through language, the SWDs make sense of the experience and the world around them (Khasawneh, 2021). Additionally, language helps the students communicate with each other and with their teachers. Furthermore, the students exhibit their understanding of various subjects through language (Rose et al., 2020). Educators enhance inclusion in special education institutions by encouraging English language programs among SWDs (Lawrence-Brown & Sapon-Shevin, 2014). Language helps educators identify the areas that students fail to understand in class (Cultural and Linguistic and diversity and Exceptionality, n.d.). Consequently, educators can encourage the use of person-first language to encourage inclusivity (Lawrence-Brown & Sapon-Shevin, 2014). Moreover, SWDs use language to present their problems within a social context. The educators can respond by helping the SWDs overcome the struggles faced within society. Understanding the influence of language on SWDs’ learning helps educators effectively teach and help them overcome social factors encumbering their daily interactions.
Culture involves various social behaviors, institutions, and norms found in human societies. A society’s culture influence SWDs’ learning and development in various dimensions. Culture is significantly understood within a construct of diversity and helps determine an individual’s unique characteristics (Lawrence-Brown & Sapon-Shevin, 2014). For instance, in some cultures, students are expected to behave in certain ways, such as respecting the elderly. The influence of culture on SWDs’ worldviews and behaviors is significant among professional special educators (Khasawneh, 2021). The teachers can integrate their cultural understanding to effectively help the students understand various topics taught. Additionally, cultural understanding among the teachers helps them know how to behave and handle various life situations faced by their students. Therefore, the influence of culture on SWDs’ worldviews and behaviors requires educators to abhor the adoption of unacceptable social norms.
SWDs come from different families with various experiences that influence their learning. Some are born in families with parents experiencing marital problems. Consequently, such students tend to disassociate themselves from discussions around marriage (Ammari et al., 2018). According to statistics, more than two-thirds of poor children, 68%, come from households with family members who work full time, all year round (Cultural and linguistic and diversity and exceptionality, n.d.). Consequently, such children, including SWDs, may see themselves as the cause of struggles within their families. Professional educators’ understanding of the family background’s negative influence on students’ learning is important (Ramanaik et al., 2018). The teachers can help the SWDs develop a positive perception of their families’ experiences and become game-changers.
Influence Individual Students’ Factors
Students are unique from each other, and their peculiarity requires a specific educational approach. Considering all the students as equal to each other may humiliate some of them with unique needs. For instance, some students may have a dislike for mathematics, unlike the rest of their population. Moreover, the SWDs come from different families and societies and inform their differences. The students’ differences influence their perception of various social issues and how well they understand what is taught in class (Niemi & Kousa, 2020). Educators should evaluate their students individually to understand their differences. Consequently, the teachers may adopt approaches that maximize learners’ performance at personal levels. Therefore, understanding the influence of individual differences on students’ performance helps educators maximize it.
Individual Abilities, Strengths, Needs, and Disabilities
SWDs present various abilities and disabilities that may either positively or negatively impact their learning and development. Some SWDs are born with special mathematical skills that help them love technical subjects. Additionally, their families may have the capacity to support their learning activities through the provision of necessary learning resources. Meanwhile, other SWDs may come from families with an inability to provide sufficient learning resources. Consequently, they may develop a negative attitude toward certain educational activities. Teachers should understand such abilities and disabilities among their students to maximize their potential. Moreover, presuming competence among the SWDs encourages them to remain active in class regardless of their weaknesses (Biklen & Burke, 2006). For instance, learners who can play soccer should be encouraged to participate in various competitions. Meanwhile, students with speaking disabilities should be encouraged to take their situation to their advantage.
Moreover, the students may exhibit various strengths and need that influence their learning capabilities. Some students have the mental capacity to quickly understand what is being taught in the class (Goering et al., 2022). Meanwhile, other students are slow learners, requiring their teachers to effectively impart them with knowledge. Furthermore, the SWDs present diverse needs that require educators to offer special support. SWDs’ physical and mental capabilities vary, and needing special learning techniques. Therefore, professional special educators uniquely respond to the SWDs’ abilities, disabilities, strengths, and needs to maximize their learning potential.
Response as a Future Inclusive Educator
The foundational knowledge of the influence of social and individual factors on SWDs’ learning is crucial. The cultural knowledge would help in understanding the various modes of teaching among the students. Consequently, the adoption of a multicultural teaching environment would encourage social inclusion among SWDs (Biklen & Burke, 2006). Additionally, understanding the students’ individual differences, abilities and disabilities, and strengths and needs could help in devising educational models that impact them at an individual level. Therefore, the knowledge of the social and individual factors’ influence on students’ learning is significant for effective teaching among SWDs.
Ethical Practice in Inclusive Education
CEC Code of Ethics
Professional special educators work in a diverse environment, requiring specific ethical conduct. Consequently, the CEC ethical code provides various principles that educators must observe when interacting with SWDs. The third principle requires teachers to promote meaningful and inclusive student participation in their schools and communities (Council for Exceptional Children, 2015). The principle is significant in maximizing the students’ potential and making them productive members of society. The fifth principle requires educators to actively involve families and students in decision-making (Council for Exceptional Children, 2015). Inclusive decision-making promotes understanding and a positive attitude toward the educators’ actions. The use of an evidence-based approach, the sixth principle, is significant in making informed decisions and avoiding the setbacks associated with the special education teaching profession.
Moreover, the eight principles require the teachers not to tolerate practices that harm the SWDs. The principle encourages the SWDs to take their disabilities as strengths and appreciate their societies. The tenth principle, which advocates for professional resources and conditions that improve the learners’ outcome, is significant in encouraging exemplary performance among the SWDs (Council for Exceptional Children, 2015). Providing sufficient learning resources helps the SWDs effectively understand various social aspects and feel appreciated by society. Finally, the eleventh principle of engaging in the improvement of the profession through active participation in professional organizations (Council for Exceptional Children, 2015). Therefore, the CEC code of ethics is significant in regulating professional behaviors in the special education sector.
Disability as Type of Diversity
Diversity involves a mixture of various social characteristics within a society. A special education sector brings together students with different needs and strengths. Moreover, SWDs come from different families with various life experiences. A special educational institution brings together students and stakeholders from different cultures. The multicultural dimension of SWDs makes them unique and significant for social development. The special needs institutions offer SWDs quality education in line with their needs (Vincent & Chiwandire, 2019). Disability should not be considered as a social and physical challenge but as a diverse issue promoting social development. Therefore, society should broaden its understanding of diversity by including diversity.
Collaboration in Inclusive Education
Importance of Collaboration
Collaboration among the special needs educational stakeholders is crucial among the SWDs and society at large. First, collaboration allows the teachers to work together and easily identify the unique needs of their students. For instance, special needs educators exchange information and develop an effective teaching strategy based on the shared information. Second, collaboration allows the educational stakeholders to realize the risks and opportunities in the special needs sector (Parmigiani et al., 2021). Consequently, the involved parties allocate and channel needed resources by the SWDs. Third, the collaboration among special needs educators and policymakers help in the development of effective regulations.
The SWDs significantly benefit from the adopted strategies and allocated resources through collaboration. Therefore, collaboration promotes self-realization and development among the learners. For instance, the students exploit their full potential through the sufficient resources provided. The SWDs feel appreciated by society and are actively involved in social and economic development (Parmigiani et al., 2021). Additionally, society benefits from the collaboration in the special needs educational context. Individual community members are encouraged to appreciate the special needs students and embrace their intake in a social building. Therefore, collaboration in special needs education is crucial for social and personal development.
Language, culture, family background, and individual differences influence learning among SWDs. Language and culture impact the students’ worldview and how they interact with other members of society. Professional special educators need an understanding of the social and personal factors of SWDs learning. These factors help educators develop effective teaching plans to ensure their students’ optimal performance. CEC code of ethics helps regulate professional behavior among special educators. Therefore, professional ethical educators are encouraged to perceive disability as diversity. Collaboration among the special needs education stakeholders is significant for the SWDs and society at large.
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