You are on page 1of 7

Makayla Coggins

SPED 2100 Clinical Observation Paper

Due: April 28, 2015
Special Education: Inclusion and Pull Out
There is not an exclusive right way of implementing a special education
curriculum. Special education comes in a variety of forms including pulling
children out of the classroom, inclusion, and self-contained classrooms. Every
student who requires differentiated learning can be served best in different types
of special education classrooms. What works for one child may not be the best fit
for another student, which is important to realize. The type of classroom that a
student is best suited for is all derived from that specific students IEP or
Individualized Education Plan. An IEP is a precise list of needs that the child has.
It is the school and teachers obligation to provide the child everything possible in
order to accommodate their IEP. Considering all of the different forms of special
education, it is critical to recognize that a child may be put into a number of any
special education classrooms and why. Special education isnt just for students
with physical disabilities- it includes a range of children. Children with ADHD,
hearing impairments, Emotional Behavioral Disorders, and gifted learners all fall
under the umbrella term of special education. However, it is important to keep in
mind that even though special education comes attached to a negative stigma,
there is nothing wrong with being considered to have special needs (OBrien &
Beattie, 2015).

The practice of pulling out and inclusion in special education seem to be

two of the most popular. This poses the question: What is pull out and inclusion
regarding the special education curriculum? Inclusion is based upon the law of
LRE or Least Restrictive Environment. Least restrictive environment refers to
placing the student in the least socially confined classroom possible. The intent
of a least restrictive environment is to keep the students who require special
needs and the students who do not, together. The purpose of this is to give the
student with special needs every opportunity to develop socially and
academically with as little extra intervention as possible. It is critical to make
sure that the child who requires special needs and attention, doesnt feel like they
are inferior or below any of their classmates (Questions and answers, n.d.). With
this being said, inclusion incorporates the principle of a least restrictive
environment by providing extra instruction to a student while keeping them in a
general education classroom along with their peers. Full inclusion generally tends
to have a special education teacher working alongside a general education
teacher in the same classroom in order to achieve optimal instruction. The
general education teacher will provide general instruction to the entire class while
the special education teacher will assist in making sure the child with the IEP
gets the extra help or clarification that they may need (Bateman, Lloyd, &
Tankersley, 2015).
The opposite of inclusion is known as the pull out system in special
education. Inclusion is focused on keeping all of the students together while the
alternative is pulling the children out at one point during the day to give them

further instruction and more one-on-one attention. It should be noted that pull out
programs have an unfavorable stigma about them. Some educators are afraid
that the peers of these students might see them as being dumb or not smart
enough to be in a regular class. These educators also think that if the students in
need of the services start thinking this of them selves, it could have a negative
and adverse effect from the intended outcome. A child should never see them
selves as inferior compared to their peers. Nonetheless, there are substantial
benefits of a pull out program. The main goal of a program such as this is to
ensure that the student gets more attention than they would if they were in a
general education setting. In a regular education classroom, more often than not,
a teacher could be outnumbered by at least twenty students. In comparison, a
special education teacher wouldnt have half that many students making it much
easier for the students to get closer instruction (Winzer, 2000).
I chose to do my clinical observations at Atkinson Elementary School in
Hendersonville, North Carolina. These observations were completed throughout
the month of April 2015. Atkinson Elementary is a relatively new school seeing as
it was only built in the 1980s. It is a small little school, only one floor, nestled in
the woods. There is a stream meandering through the property and a nature trail
that all teachers utilize for different projects- language arts sensory, science
observations, and exercise.
I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to observe two fantastic
teachers, Ms. Carlson and Mrs. Dennison. Mrs. Dennison is a fifth grade general
education teacher and Ms. Carlson is the special education teacher. They have a

system of partial inclusion and partial pull out. Ms. Carlson comes in to assist
Mrs. Dennison for about thirty minutes during her first math lesson of the day
(usually around 10 am). In this particular class period, there are several of the
kids that attend Ms. Carlsons room in the afternoon for their pull out session.
Within this group of kids there are some learning disorders, emotional behavioral
disorders, and some disabilities that I am not fully entitled to know about. While
Mrs. Dennison is the lead teacher and instructs the education of the class, Ms.
Carlson is there to provide extra help and implement alternative learning
strategies if needed.
While I have spent a massive amount of time volunteering at Atkinson but
this was my first time ever working with Ms. Carlson and I learned more than I
could have ever imagined. Ms. Carlson informed me that she is the only special
education teacher for the whole 400-person student body of Atkinson
Elementary. This is no easy task! As I followed her around for a day, I realized
just how stressful her job is. She handles every student with an IEP from
kindergarten to fifth grade. I watched as she ran around from classroom to
classroom, fitting in every possible inclusion lesson that she could and then going
back to her own classroom for pull out programs.
When in her classroom, she has no more than ten students at a time and
thats the fifth graders. I observed the ten fifth graders, six kindergarteners, six
third graders, and two fourth graders during pull out times. I didnt get to see any
of the other grades, but I was mainly interested in the fifth graders. The
demographics ranged drastically. All six of the kindergarteners were boys, which

directly correlates to the fact that boys are more likely to be diagnosed with a
disability (ADHD, learning disabilities, etc.) than girls. Interestingly enough, the
majority of students in the fifth grade pull out session were girls.
Ms. Carlson used a variety of mediums to present her lessons. For the
fifth graders, she usually dedicated at least some of her time to assisting them in
completing their homework or in class worksheets. Fifth grade math is usually
hard for these students and they needed a lot of additional coaching and
reassurance that they in fact could figure out each problem. Aside from math, she
took the time to explain to me that she has been using a reading program called
Read Naturally for the last twenty years, which I got to observe the students
using. This is an online program that enhances the reading skills of the students
by timing them and helping them to think critically about what theyre reading. It
somehow measures how fast they read each passage and the teacher is
responsible for helping them to keep track of how many words that they stumble
over. With the kindergartners, she was a big advocate for making learning fun
and she allowed them to play games on the computer that were intended to
enhance their familiarity with the alphabet. Ms. Carlsons teaching style is
definitely student centered. She listens to what they need and she also takes into
consideration what they want to do, which is very admirable. She is very
dedicated to her students and would obviously do whatever it takes to make sure
they succeed to their fullest potential.
When I observed Mrs. Dennison, it was much different from being in Ms.
Carlsons room. I am quite familiar with Mrs. Dennison and her teaching style- I

interned in her room my senior year of high school and I still volunteer with her
regularly. She has been a fifth grade teacher for eight years and was just recently
named Teacher of the Year for Atkinson Elementary School. Shes been my
mentor for the past two years and shes very dedicated to her students, just like
Mrs. Carlson. In Mrs. Dennisons classroom, there are so many students and its
very easy to see how a student who needed extra attention could possibly slip
through the cracks. Mrs. Dennison also uses multiple means of presenting her
information- doing examples on the board, math games, and handouts are all
regular items in her classroom. She also goes above and beyond to make sure
that Ms. Carlson knows exactly what is going on in any given lesson and
provides her with extra worksheets to give to the students in pull out.
While I was at Atkinson, I didnt just observe. I was lucky enough to be
able to actually work with the students. For fifth grade, I was able to assist them
with their math homework- adding and subtracting mixed number fractions to be
exact. I also helped during Read Naturally time. This included helping the
students think through what they were actually trying to say which included
anything from helping them to sound out words or form a complete sentence.
The biggest challenge I ran into was the kindergarteners. Six little five year olds
is a lot of energy to handle at once. We played some alphabet games and then
read a short story about springtime and it was all we could do to hold their
attention for five minutes at a time. I really enjoyed the challenge though because
it was fun and I like to push myself.

Overall, I was really delighted with the time that I spent observing at
Atkinson Elementary School. Mrs. Dennison and Ms. Carlson are two
magnificent educators and really great role models to look up to. Their
unwavering dedication to the students and their success is very admirable and I
hope to be half the teachers that they are some day. I learned more than I ever
imagined during my time at Atkinson. In all honestly, I learn something new every
time I set foot into that building. I didnt realize just how tiring and hard being the
only special education teacher in the entire school can be. To be a special
education teacher it takes patience and a kind of devotion that not many people
have. Its very reassuring to know that there are teachers like this in the state of
North Carolina and I cannot wait until the one day that I am considered to be a
part of this elite group.