Saturday, August 13, 2011


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Michael Byrge

Ed. Psych Practicum

Dr. Ncube

December 1, 00

Custom Essays on Teaching

Teaching Special Needs Children

What’s my patience level? How well will I deal with stressful situations? Will I find myself becoming irritated when a child doesn’t immediately grasp a concept? These are questions I needed to ask myself before deciding on a career in teaching children with special needs.

Special education is a unique field. It has to address the specialized skills that are required to work with children who have challenging needs, while at the same time acknowledging that there is actually more of a commonality than difference between special and traditional education. But unlike traditional education, where children are personally responsible, at least in part, for what they learn, the special education student has more reliance on the teacher to provide for him to show him how to learn. It’s been my observation that teacher behavior very often has a direct and immediate effect on the behavior and learning of the children. For instance, teacher praise while an important part of any educational experience seems to have a more profound effect on the special needs child. These children are often more sensitive to both praise and criticism, than the child in a traditional setting. I had to ask myself if I were the sort of person who could recognize this aspect and who was attuned to the sensitivities of the special needs child.

A thing that we have to know as teachers is what is a “special needs” child. According to Lesley Webb author of the book “Children with special needs in the infants’ school”, there are five different areas that we can use to help find out if the children are consider “special needs”.

The five are, Personality of the teacher, Record keeping, Contact with the Parents, Standardized testing, and the School Nurse. These different areas help will provide enough information for us to at least get the child more testing to see if they are “special needs”.

My personal philosophy is that “special” children need special attention and interaction with their teacher. To be successful in this field, that is, to achieve personal success by fostering successful behavior in the students one has to be prepared to be both teacher and surrogate parent; friend and disciplinarian; nurturer and cheerleader.

I personally feel that no one role should take precedence over another, putting on one’s “teacher hat” is no more important in the actual teaching of special needs children than is wearing the ‘friend’ or ‘cheerleader’ persona. My own strengths lie in recognizing when these children need a hug more than a reprimand, a smile more than a stern look. Conversely, I also feel enough in tune with their needs to recognize when to set a more serious tone. If anything, my weakness may be that I would become so personally and emotionally attached to the children that I might possibly lose my perspective. But this is where the ‘parent’ hat is set firmly on my head.

The teacher of special needs children often does assume the role of surrogate parent -- the child’s own parent may quite possibly be unable or unaware how to interact with the child who has special needs, and the teacher needs to be able to take on a parental-type role at school, for consistency in learning and behavior modeling for the child.

I believe that providing instruction for the parents or guardians of special needs children is another important part of the learning experience. Parents don’t inherently know the best form of interaction with a special child, simply because he or she is their child. I think a parent-teacher partnership is one of the best ways to educate the child with special needs, ensuring that the steps taken at school will be followed at home; that the methods employed for behavior or learning will be reinforced by both parent and teacher; and that the child will have a sense of consistent and expected behavior and results, regardless of where he is.

Finally, I think the child’s environment should be structured in a way that is most conducive to learning. This may seem obvious, and a goal that should be set for every classroom, but with special needs children, the classroom environment is especially important. Depending on the type of program within the school, and whether or not the school provides inclusion in a traditional classroom, the special needs child may be returning to the same classroom the same environment for successive years. It’s important that he not only feel comfortable within this environment but that the environment provides him with what he needs. This environment should include appropriate teaching materials those which are not only functional, but relevant to the children’s daily lives, and appropriate for a wide range of skill levels varied activities, and also interaction with other children including providing some time to integrate with peers from a traditional classroom.

Above all, I feel the teacher of special needs children should acknowledge that the students in the classroom, regardless of their challenges and ability levels, aren’t primarily disabled, but are first and foremost children.

Works Cited

Webb, Lesley. Children With Special Needs in the Infants’ School. London Colin Smythe Ltd., 167.

Haring, Norris G. and Richard L. Schiefelbusch, eds. Teaching Special Children. New York McGraw-Hill, Inc., 176.

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