Resources for Regular Classroom Teachers Caring for Children with Special Needs: If We Had an Idea
Initiatives for special education in the Philippines began as early as 1902. Almost a century and two decades have passed; however, as of now, our country does not have a version of the famous Individuals with Disabilities Education Act or IDEA. However, there is a Senate bill that pushes for this need, Senate Bill 1298 adopted by Senator Joel Villanueva. In the absence of IDEA, our special education system does not have specific parameters for its practice. Unfortunately, there are no laws that require other elementary resources that will be of great help to teachers.
Despite a fundamental building block missing, our Department of Education has recently made clear its wishes for inclusive education. Inclusive education refers to a child with special needs fully participating in a regular school. We also have a Senate bill that hopes to be an inclusive education bill, Senate Bill 996 adopted by Senator Win Gathchalian.
Most public and private school teachers have expressed apprehension about their willingness to tackle the inclusion program. They express the lack of competent training for the task. Regular classroom teachers are already anticipating the pressure and difficulty of managing their classrooms. They are overwhelmed from now on.
If we had an IDEA, our children with special education needs would have a vast pool of professionals and an appropriate assessment available to them. The diagnosis alone will not be enough. It is best to have an assessment of each child’s developmentally appropriate concern. Also, for your educational need, evaluation by a professional who is also familiar with the instruction and curriculum will be of great help. With this detailed educational evaluation, our regular classroom teachers who deal with children with special needs will have better information and a better picture of the child’s current level of performance.
If we had an IDEA, our regular classroom teachers who handle children with special needs would have resources to alleviate the labor pains of the inclusion program sought. Ideally, it will allow each school or district to have its own special education department. This is the first and best resource for regular teachers. The special education department will be a well of knowledge and experience. This department will also have properly trained teachers and paraprofessionals for children with special education needs. They will help modify the lesson material to suit the child’s needs. A regular classroom teacher may ask for ideas for modifying activities and assessments.
If we had an IDEA, regular classroom teachers would have a copy of the child’s special needs IEP or individualized lesson plan. You will have a list of very specific goals and objectives for the child with special needs. It also includes lists of possible activities and strategies to achieve the objectives described in it. This is a very important and essential tool designed to help the classroom teacher know how best to meet the needs of a particular child. Regular classroom teachers should have received a copy of the IEP for each child with special needs in a confidential folder. But sadly, many classroom teachers never saw such an important document so full of information about the child. This is because no law requires it and some see it as irrelevant and discard its preparation.
If we had an IDEA, children with special education needs would have access to free education in the public school system.
Every child with special needs is capable of success. Each will succeed according to their individual ability. Focus on the child’s strengths and support their weaknesses. Let each child feel and know that you believe in him or her. The rewards will be beyond words for both you and the child.