NLTA Vice-President

Dedicated to my grandfather, Baxter Langdon; small in stature but walked tall with integrity...

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

The View from the 'Cheap Seats'...Inclusive Education?

As spectators at a sporting event, we have the opportunity to enter any stadium or sports facility and purchase the seat of our choice. Premium seats may be courtside, ice-level, or positioned nicely down the third base line. But on the other hand, we also have the cheap seats, or the 'nose bleeds' if you will. Fans will often choose this option if $$$ is tight, if it is a sought after event, or they simply want a low-key day or evening out; knowing full well that they will be somewhat removed from the action.

As educators, we are called upon daily to provide instruction, intervention, supports, and enrichment to students of all capabilities and exceptionalities. By virtue of their exceptionality, these students have a right to specialized service (as promised by the Government of Newfoundland & Labrador).

My biggest worry and concern within our current education system is that our students with special needs are being forced into the 'cheap seats' and they, nor their families, have any choice in the matter.

With larger class sizes, multi-graded classrooms, and limited availability of Instructional Resource Teachers & Student Assistants, students with special needs are being offered a watered-down service that at best, allows for occasional check-ins, requires a reliance upon the independence of the student, and over-extends teachers in meeting the needs of all their students.

There must be proper resourcing of the Inclusive Education Model with intensive supports for our students with special needs. This requires the increased availability of one-on-one or small group sessions and flexible service delivery (not being strangled by limited scheduling options), in addition to the co-teaching and differentiated instruction models. This approach will undoubtedly result in heightened progress for these students and their families, teachers will be able to efficiently focus their efforts, and all students in the school will reap the benefits.