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Phase III Integrated Reflection

Courtney Raia

This semester, I have gained a lot of knowledge about the inner workings of special education and best practices in special education through working in a cross-categorical classroom for students with moderate to severe disabilities. Various assignments, classes, and experiences have allowed me to learn about best practices in the learning environment, instructional delivery, and diversity within the classroom. While working at Garden Hills, I had the privilege of working with the individual who had been asked to pilot the TEACCH program for the school district. This was an excellent opportunity, because I was able to learn about the learning environment that is most effective for students with autism, and the form of instructional delivery that has proven to be the most successful for many students in special education as well. I have learned from researching and implementing the TEACCH program that the learning environment should be incredibly structured. There should be a designated area for each of the various tasks that one might do in a classroom, so as to not leave any room for confusion or stress for the students. The concepts behind working in a classroom that utilizes TEACCH and structured teaching have also shown me that instructing students using a silent prompting system is oftentimes the most effective method, especially when working with students with autism. This is very helpful, because I have been able to learn a mode of teaching that gets the point across that does not overwhelm, because oftentimes visual input is a lot easier to learn from than verbal instructions for many students. This past semester, I have had the opportunity to experience practicum in an International Baccalaureate Magnet school. This school, which embraces its diversity, has taught me a lot about diverse needs of students within the classroom, and how that diversity impacts their development, language, and learning within the classroom. I have seen how many different cultures are brought together in order to learn in one accepting environment. No matter what the

Phase III Integrated Reflection

Courtney Raia

class, disability or not, the teacher needs to consider the backgrounds of the students. This is highly important because the educational needs of the students depend greatly on where they come from, what their background is, and their culture. For example, the financial needs of a student can greatly impact how they do at school, what their values are, and how they learn and develop within the classroom. Or, if a student speaks a different language at home, there can be a major impact on their learning at school when they are expected to learn in a language that is not their own. This impact is magnified when the student has disabilities, which is something I learned through one of my students this semester. The student was diagnosed with autism and spoke English as a second language. This played a large factor on his education in the classroom, because not only was the student academically behind his general education class, but it was difficult for him to close the gap between himself and his peers because the instruction was done in a language that is not his first language. The adaptations that needed to be taken in order to ensure that he could continue to learn demonstrated that the students culture and home life needed to be considered in order to make the lessons applicable to him. Through working with a variety of students from multiple different cultures, this past semester has been an excellent semester in order to learn about the characteristics of learners and how it impacts their learning, about structured learning environments, and best practices when it comes to instructional delivery. It is extremely important in special education to have a highly structured environment , as it limits problem behaviors and facilitates learning amongst all students. It is also important to consider the learner when planning your instructional delivery, as the prompting system or method of teaching that you use will have to vary based on the student, their needs, and their culture in order for it to be effective.