A science classroom in Union City High School in New Jersey equipped with a Smart Board (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
“.. the traditional educators and the non-educators are rarely in the same room”
“Some educators are suspicious of non-educator innovators for their focus on the market value of education; mobile education products and services alone could be worth $38 billion by 2020.”
‘A happy union with wife and children is like the music of lutes and harps! When there is concord among brethren, the harmony is delightful and enduring. (Confucius)
I will never forget the day I scolded a student in front of his class for not paying attention first, and then for not answering with courtesy. I learned later that the teen, a very smart kid, lived with foster parents because his natural ones had abused him so much that the court had assigned other adults to care for him. He hadn’t known what love and care were until he reached his new home at the age of 11. And there I was treating him like a spoiled brat. The next day I took him aside and apologized for losing my temper, although in truth the whole classroom was a tsunami of bad behavior. Of course, that was no excuse for singling him out without knowing his past. That boy was such a noble character that, in spite of his severe emotional trauma, he actually apologized to me. I later talked to the foster parents who graciously accepted my regrets: “It’s happened before”, they added, “and we understand that a teacher cannot be aware of every single detail in the life of his students.”
They are wrong; no matter how much work we have as teachers, we must make a special effort to know the circumstances of every student in our classroom because we have access to their academic and personal history. We can never assume that every kid is able, stable, and willing to learn. I had a loving mother, though not a father, and that gave me a rock solid foundation of self-esteem. What the heck do I know about being sent to one foster home after another? That boy had been profoundly hurt emotionally and to add insult to injury, had to be separated from his siblings because no foster family could accept all five of them.
Classroom (Photo credit: James F Clay)
Being an inclusion teacher, as mentioned in previous articles, requires a good rapport with the classroom teacher. Both must work as a team in high school (not to be confused with the academic teams at elementary and middle school levels) and both must have a very specific role to play. If either one lacks the necessary training and information, the class situation may turn chaotic very quickly. Students detect immediately the lack of preparation and/or cooperation and take advantage of it by behaving erratically, checking their smart phones, listening to their iPods, or talking loudly while the main teacher tries to start the instruction process.
For readers not familiar with the term “Inclusion Classroom”, allow me to explain: There are two teachers in the classroom, the general education teacher and the special education teacher who will attend mainly to students with special needs. Parents may wonder whether the strategy is working and with good reason; their son or daughter may be failing a certain subject even with the support of another teacher.