Special education over decades poses daunting challenge to practitioners because of the nature of the special need children involved. As a consequence, there has been a need for special education specialists to develop professionally to tackle the challenge of special needs children in order to produce a desired outcome. In this regard, this paper follows on my reflection on the professional development progress in terms of my benefits of the course and impact on my values, knowledge, skills and beliefs.
To start with, it is important for me to acknowledge and appreciate that learner with special needs exhibits physical, sensory, learning, emotional, and cognitive inadequacies that hampered them from normal learning (Norlander, 2005). These inadequacies give the field of special education its distinctiveness and uniqueness as a special branch of education that deals with learners with special needs that are considered to be deviate them from the societal norm. I have also discovered that, special needs children have behaviors which fall into the more extreme behavioral categories.
The extreme behavior exhibited by the children with special needs call for extended tolerance and understanding from a care giver or teacher than normal children. As a result, the children with special needs as I have learned, require special considerations, patience and more time than there normal counterparts. Therefore, these children at best they need personalized behavioral support from the teachers or instructors due to diversity of their needs. Evident to me is that there are various general changes in the field of special education in relation to attaining quality education for learners with special needs.
First, despite existence of established laws since 19th century that aim at protect and guide Special education for students with special needs (McComas, 2007), these legislations have not yet been fully implemented nor have they been accorded required federal government support. Second, the policies and findings available to better educational outcomes for the students with special needs have not been functional because of limited resources needed for implementation due categorical funding accrued to IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) loophole to recognize special services provision cost (Norlander, 2005).
Third, contrary to IDEA recommendations for Individualized Education Programs (IEP) special learners, proves to be difficult to implement for special education teachers because learners’ needs are several and nature of their disabilities are diverse to be fully met. Fourth, parental involvement in designing and development of evaluation and consent to placement, IEP learning programs and proposed actions is seriously challenged by the fact the parents are ignorant of their rights yet they need to be involved.
Fifth, despite learners with special needs desire to transit to normal class settings, the teachers deny them opportunity due to lack of modality to do so. And lastly, the requirement by IEP for the special education teachers to provide for socialization and mental health proves a tough task since instructors might not measure up to the needed know how and competencies required (McComas, 2007). I can sum the challenges that face special education field as those that are caused by constitutional, structural and fundamental issues that I believe can be addressed to improve special education outcomes.
Professionally, there are a number of tangible and essential principles that I have gained in relation of instructional approach for learners with special needs. The critical content design and instructional areas of interest that can better education outcome is grounded in the following essential principles such as selection of a wide range of instructional and assessment strategies for special need learners while emphasizing on curriculum based assessment, progress monitoring and early intervention.
Secondly, I realize there is need for special education instructors and teachers to differentiate between accommodations and modification in respect to their use in developing IEPs for these needy learners. Thirdly, special education stakeholders ought to understand the IEP process in accordance with IEP Resource Guide of 2004 (Norlander, 2005) in relation to IEP’s development, implementation, reviewing and updating to take into account societal dynamism.
This third principle is vital in the sense that the quality outcome of any given program can only be guaranteed and enhanced by quality process denoting that “process is priori of outcome”. Fourth, since our globe is moving fast technology wise, therefore input of assistive technology in designing instruction to learners with special needs should be employed to improve content cues delivery by the teachers and content mastery by the learners.
The above discussed principle are essential component that the professionals ought to use to enhance improved special education standards in regard to achieving resource based and leaner centered approach in teaching and learning of students with special needs. My new dimension of reasoning in regard to content delivery is centered on the use of effective communication as a vital tool of design for teaching students with special needs to attain effective learning.
Am now of opinion that the role of effective communication in instructional practices of children with special need should be emphasized because learning is an interactive process that rely on communication utilization between the teacher and the learners. Therefore use of effective communication by professional teacher help to develop unique sense of confidence of students that facilitate classroom adjustment and students’ involvement and participation in the learning process. As a result, the special need students are motivated extrinsically for effective learning.
Additionally, effective communication helps to arrest shyness and nervousness, thereby improving self image of special need student as they are to express their feelings expansive and better manner (McComas, 2007). Moreover, social adjustment aspect can too be catered for through effective communication enabling these children develop an impressive personality to be able to understand each other and their peers, be active learners, raise their performance in academics; thus lead them towards success path.
Therefore, the essence of effective communication for the children content delivery and classroom interaction I will never ignored in the sense that it assists in elimination of learners’ negative perception that they are stereotyped, stigmatized and discriminated against by society hampering their academic success. Moreover, classroom management by the teachers of children with special need is supposed to be more focused on the diverse needs exhibited by learners to achieve desired educational goals in line with IEPs.
However, in the process of catering for the different needs of these students, as a teacher I should acknowledge the fact that children with special needs have extreme behaviors that requires tolerance, patience and understanding, therefore, I should be careful and avoid emotions while employing reason to be able to say no, to be firm, to ignore malicious overtures, to restricting rewards and punish bad behavior, and reinforcing the good behaviors.
By doing this, as a teacher I shall have appropriate approach as far as balancing between instilling discipline and child’s cognitive, affective and psychomotor development. In conclusion, the paper has presented my personal reflection on the professional development in relation to special education training. My perception has changed by learning that there are many challenges facing special education.
However, I believe that through constitutional and structural approaches, solutions will be found to enhance effective special education programs that carters for vast majority of students with special needs. Above, I have discovered critical aspects as creation of positive learning environment reflecting diversity, organizing class to allow student work independently along with personalized attention and relevance of teaching content and resources to provide for all learners with special needs as secrete and key to effective classroom management.
As a consequence of such training, profession wise I have developed key competencies in instructional design and delivery, teaching skills, increased knowledge of other cultures, how to enhance my students’ experiences of other cultures, needed and necessary collaboration with others, language improvement, inter-cultural and diversity teaching and classroom management.
Therefore, my professional contribution to improvement of special education means advocating for change accordance with IEPs, utilize learner centered learning (Norlander, 2005) while emphasizing on child’s growth and development, use of effective communication, involving and engaging learners in the learning process as much as possible.
By doing this, then I shall be maximizing on the information gathered and skills acquired. Reference Norlander, A. K. (2005). Shifting paradigms in school environments for Learners with disabilities: New York, Routledge McComas, F. J. (2007) “Barriers and facilitators to inclusive education of Exceptional” Exceptional Children 23(1), 100-109