There is a present concern that education to this day is inaccessible to many people. Uncertainty “continues to grow over the nation’s lack of educational attainment” (Obiakor et al., 2017, p.1.). It casts considerable doubts on educational opportunities for students with mild/moderate learning disabilities. Appropriate learning conditions and treatment from teachers are a necessity for this category of students.
Until recently, the examination of the special education of mild/moderate students with learning disabilities focused mainly on the difficulty of obtaining a general education for children with disabilities and their transition to inclusive learning. In the past years, there has been an increase in interest in the problems people with disabilities face when they receive vocational education. To a great extent, specialized education provides a differentiated approach to students’ health and the prevention and correction of disorders in the psychological and pedagogical field. To a much lesser extent, it contributes to their subsequent integration into society.
In this regard, there is no doubt that these students should have the right to choose an individual program in their educational institution. Special education’s ultimate goal is to create a safe educational environment for exceptional individuals and prepare them for their future engagement in society and their professional path.
Programs, Services, and Outcomes
Service learning constitutes an instructional educational evidence-based practice that is suitable and effective particularly for mild/moderate students with learning limitations. It is aimed at advocating educational programs and providing services for students with exceptionalities. Service learning has proven to “deepen student’s understanding of core concepts” and allows “the enhancement of soft skills and the focus on the strengths of the learner” (Graham et al., 2017, p. 63). In my opinion, this educational strategy is excellent for establishing communication between special students and their non-disabled peers. The goals and practices of true inclusion serve as a law to protect students with disabilities and organize the educational process for them appropriately.
As world practice shows, when appropriate conditions are created, several ways of organizing the educational process for individuals with disabilities are possible in a professional educational institution of a general type. Inclusive education is based on unifying students with disabilities and ordinary students in a single educational process. For special individuals, adaptation to an educational institution’s environment is a challenging and time-consuming process. The factors that influence the long-term adaptation may be knowledge gaps, lack of communication skills, poor orientation in society, growing accustomed to condescending attitude, and more. These factors must not serve as a reason for the isolation of special students from vocational education. However, they require developing a specific mechanism that mitigates their influence and forms a supporting system for disabled students.
Distance learning, which is currently gaining momentum, can increase the access of categories of special students to vocational education. Modern information and communication technologies’ capabilities can significantly expand the list of tools used in the learning process. For students with musculoskeletal system diseases or vision problems, the use of such means would significantly facilitate the learning process.
The organizational methods for students with mild/moderate disabilities support a theory that all groups of students require an individual approach from teachers for the sake of their full and consistent development and academic success. I find these methods efficient and just as they consider the unique characteristics of students’ perceptions. Special students should be allowed to choose the form of education.
School principals must implement specific laws in order to protect special students and monitor the compliance of teachers and non-disabled students with those laws. First, they have to ensure that their school “identifies, locates, and evaluates any child suspected of having a disability” and that “all eligible students receive a free and appropriate public education (FAPE) in the least restrictive environment” (DeMatthews et al., 2019, p. 5). It is also part of the school’s responsibility to ensure that “timely and appropriate changes to an Individual Educational Program are made when the student fails to meet goals” and “appropriate procedures and supports are implemented when a student consistently struggles with managing his or her behavior” (DeMatthews et al., 2019, p. 5). Disabled students should not feel any blame or pressure for not meeting the academic requirements; on the other hand, it is the prinicpals’ and teachers’ task to help them overcome their struggles.
Research and Inquiry
Researchers highlight such types of integration as educational and social. Educational integration aims to provide an opportunity for students with psychophysical developmental disabilities to study in regular classes of a general education school. They are able to master the program of a mass or special school and receive special educational services. In contrast to educational, social integration primarily implies the social adaptation of children and youth with special needs into the general system of social engagements within the educational environment. Thus, the concept of educational integration has a double meaning: in some research, the emphasis is placed on the academic education of persons with disabilities, while others focus on social adaptation.
One of the most informative researches on inclusion is a study made by D. Robinson. She explores a truly relevant matter — “what models and pedagogic frameworks are effective in developing skilled, confident and effective teachers who can successfully include learners with special educational needs within mainstream classrooms” (Robinson, 2017, p. 164). This question resonates with me as I also strive to be a reliant and compassionate teacher. The author mentions initial teaching training, emphasizes the importance of professional learning communities and collective action, and presents research-oriented teachers’ education as a tool for developing inclusive practices.
In her study, Robinson (2017) concludes that “inclusive teacher education must adopt a complex, multi-modal, collective, critical theoretical, socially situated, research-oriented and partnership-oriented pedagogic model if it is to advance” (p. 176). I could not agree with this statement more; as teachers, we must find the most efficient and progressive ways to help our students grow and develop.
Leadership and Policy
Certain basic concepts of the studied material need to be explained to students out of school hours. To better assimilate specific terminology, it is necessary to pay increased attention to professional terms and control their acquisition. In the learning process, it is recommended to use a variety of visual materials. Difficult-to-understand topics should be provided with as much visual material as possible. It is necessary to show pedagogical tact, provide timely assistance to each student, develop faith in one’s strengths and capabilities.
I see creating a safe and productive environment for students as my principal duty. I believe that finding an individual approach to every student and their impairment is every teacher’s obligation. For students with hearing impairments, lectures that combine abstract thinking with visualization. For example, a set of specific illustrations reflecting the contents of each topic of the discipline with a small textual explanation. Visually impaired students should be allowed to use recording devices and computers as a way of taking notes during class. When working with students with musculoskeletal disorders, it is essential to use methods that activate their cognitive activity, develop oral and written speech, and form the necessary educational skills. All categories of special students need breaks during lengthy classes.
Students’ families’ presence and engagement in the educational process is necessary. Parents are “essential partners in special education” not only for their children but for the teachers as well (DeMatthews et al., 2019, p. 12). Teachers should be in an open and trustworthy relationship with their students’ parents, share all records, discoveries, concerns with them, and vice versa.
Professional and Ethical Practice
Teachers should foster a welcoming atmosphere in all groups where students can discuss their lives and feelings and where mutual support and teamwork are developed. Paying attention not only to developmental disabilities but, above all, to the abilities of children and the possibilities for the development of these abilities should the most important duty and value for a teacher. It is necessary to note students’ achievements in relation to their success, as well as their non-standard achievements. I firmly agree with Ziaian-Ghafari and Berg (2019) on the notion that “successful inclusion of exceptional students required the teacher to be cognizant of the students’ social-emotional needs as well as their academic needs” (p. 41). I consider providing mental support and encouragement to special students both a professional and ethical obligation.
The opportunity to study in a school or university for people with disabilities is significant not only from the point of view of obtaining specific knowledge and skills that prepares them for future professional activities. Today’s educational organization must ensure the development of special students’ abilities, contributing to the formation of their internal integrity and mental health.
The educational process is one of the fundamental and inalienable conditions for special students’ successful socialization. Special education allows all students to engage in the life of the educational institution. It ensures effective self-realization in various types of professional and social activities. This type of education has resources aimed at stimulating equality and collaboration between all students. I am hopeful that regular students and students with disabilities will be able to receive equally qualitative education. I want all individuals with disabilities to feel safe, accepted, and free throughout their entire educational and professional path.
DeMatthews, D. E., Kotok, S., & Serafini, A. (2019). Leadership preparation for special education and inclusive schools: beliefs and recommendations from successful principals. Journal of Research on Leadership Education, 15(4), 1–27. Web.
Graham, A. T., Renaud, G. A., Rose, M. M., & Rok, K. (2017). Service learning: the bridge to engagement, empowerment, integration and learning for students with exceptionalities. Currents in Teaching & Learning, 9(2), 60–71.
Robinson, D. (2017). Effective inclusive teacher education for special educational needs and disabilities: Some more thoughts on the way forward. Teaching and Teacher Education, 61, 164–178. Web.
Obiakor, F. E., Banks, T., Rotatori, A. F. & Utley C. (2017). Leadership matters in the education of students with special needs in the 21st century. Information Age Publishing.
Ziaian-Ghafari, N. & Berg, D. H. (2019). Compassion fatigue: The experiences of teachers working with students with exceptionalities. Exceptionality Education International, 29(1), 32–53. Web.