In this article, Dover presents and discusses how to better integrate students with special needs into general education classes where they are receiving content area instruction. She proposes a collaborative approach, between content area specialists and special education specialists, in order to create a more inclusive classroom setting. The initial problem to be addressed is between the teachers themselves. This is because, as Dover suggests, general classroom teachers may be unaware of special needs techniques and methodologies whereas special education teachers may be too narrowly focused on their specialty.
The suggestion, therefore, is a collaborative approach that emphasizes nonjudgmental support, regular consultation, and careful monitoring. Dover is careful to caution that special educators do not intrude or otherwise overreach in their efforts to collaborate; indeed, Dover states that When given consultation time, special educators should not give in to the temptation to plan lessons, schedule meetings, or finish IEPs but rather engage in tasks and activities that promote communication and support for students in inclusive settings. (Dover, 2005)
In support of this collaborative approach, Dover sets forth a laundry list of guidelines and relevant considerations. These considerations focus on careful planning, specificity, written record-keeping, open communication, comprehensive reviews and monitoring, both direct and indirect forms of assistance, trust building, prioritizing, and face-to-face consultation. What is most appealing about Dover’s approach is the implicit recognition that educators, whether content area specialists or special education specialists, must first establish trust and mutual respect.
An inclusive classroom, after all, requires as a precondition instructors willing to compromise and collaborate rather than compete. Dover’s focus on specificity and setting priorities would also appear to be highly advisable. Too much generality, for instance, might result in the general classroom instructor failing to truly understand the specific needs of certain students. On the other hand, if compromise and collaboration are intended to be premised on mutual respect, then the review guidelines proposed by Dover need to be handled delicately.
A review, after all, implies in some ways a critically judgmental analysis of the general classroom instructor’s competence. It might be better if Dover rephrased the review guidelines or instead incorporated these functions into another less threatening category. In the final analysis, semantics aside, Dover’s fundamental premises and suggestions appear to be highly advisable. References Dover, W. F. (2005). Consult and Support Students with Special Needs in Inclusive Classrooms. Intervention in School & Clinic, 41(1), 32+. Retrieved April 8, 2009, from Questia database: http://www. questia. com/PM. qst? a=o&d=5011034709
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