Kristin Lindman

EDU 280A
Journal #2
Theme: Schools

Throughout the entire school it is pretty clear to see that students’ differences are not
all that obvious and easy to pick out. The most hidden difference, from my observation, being
those students with special needs. Teachers and administrators seem to work at blending
students with the rest of the student body. Teachers seem to work at masking students’
disabilities such that they let the students know that they shouldn’t be ashamed or isolated
because of their issues. Teachers instead just reassure students that it’s ok to ask for help
when they need it.
A perfect example of this masking occurred in my visit to an integrated tenth grade
math class. Had I not been previously told that this class was integrated I wouldn’t have known.
I couldn’t even pin point the students that had special needs. All of the students were well
blended and all worked together with the teachers cooperatively. The Math teacher also
emphasized throughout the class that if they needed help in any way that she and the aid were
there to help them. The teacher as well as the aid didn’t just focus on those students who had
special needs. Another way in which “masking” appeared was when I saw how the class was
set up. The entire class was divided up into groups of around three or four, so both main
stream students and those with special needs were blended together. There was no isolation
of special needs students at all, and both the teachers made their rounds around the class
asking those who needed it.
Lev Vygotsky’s theory of social influences on cognitive developments is very much
noticeable in this particular class setting. I can see that the students without special needs
could act as the special needs students’ More Knowledgeable Other. By integrating the
students into mainstream classrooms and having those in blended groups in the classroom
could be very beneficial for the special needs students. The mainstream students would
provide this collaborative dialogue with the special needs students. The students would
exchange knowledge about a particular subject or how to solve a particular problem. Then the
student with special needs could pick that up and refer to the other student with a better
understanding. This in the end would “mask” the students’ disabilities because they are
working with other students who act as a model for them, and in the end the students with
disabilities obtain an increase in cognitive development.
The largest professional take away that I got from observing the integrated classroom is
that masking students’ disabilities can actually be quite beneficial. Integrating definitely helps
prevent that typical isolation that special needs students receive. Integrating also helps with

the disabilities in a way such that special needs students don’t necessarily have to rely on a
teacher’s aid. They can instead use their fellow students as MKO’s and learn from them. Then
they are establishing this bond from one another through their collaborative learning. All the
resources are there for whatever the special needs students want in regards to assistance.