Inclusive classrooms are a blend of students without disabilities and students with special needs. In almost all cases, a special needs student will be accompanied by a special education teacher, who acts as the liaison between the student and the teacher. These special education teachers have specific roles and responsibilities when it comes to helping students with disabilities learn and thrive in a traditional classroom setting.
A special education teacher works with the classroom teacher to make lesson plans for her students. Children with special needs who are mainstreamed into an inclusive classroom will learn the same things as the rest of the students. Making lesson plans together allows a special education teacher to modify the information to meet the academic needs and abilities of her special needs students while also ensuring that they are staying on track so they can successfully move on to new topics with the rest of the students.
Special education teachers provide one-on-one help to special needs students. Once the classroom teacher has completed a lesson, the special education teacher will help her students complete any assigned classwork, as well as provide additional instruction when necessary. Special needs teachers often provide support, such as translating what the classroom teacher is saying into sign language, depending on the type of disability a student has.
Some special needs students also have disabilities that can have an impact on how they behave in an inclusive classroom. For example, a student with autism might panic if the classroom gets too loud or if the classroom routine changes unexpectedly. Special education teachers are well versed in their students' disabilities and can help calm them or put a stop to poor behavior when it arises. A special education teacher usually has the power to remove a student from the classroom so he has a chance to calm down and collect himself before returning to his classwork.
Special education teachers are often required to give progress reports and updates to parents. This is because the teachers work so closely with the students that they know exactly what's going on in the classroom and how well each student is doing academically. Many special education teachers work with classroom teachers to assess individualized education programs, also known as IEPs. IEPs are plans schools make with parents, students and teachers to keep track of academic progress and to encourage success in the classroom.
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