Teachers deal with many students through their careers, so encountering a child with special needs is virtually inevitable. However, a teacher may not fully understand the student's disability. When this happens, a shadow teacher is extremely helpful. If you are a teacher or parent involved with a child who has a learning disability, a shadow teacher is something you should definitely know about.
A shadow teacher is an educational assistant who works directly with a single special needs child during his preschool and elementary school years. These assistants understand a variety of learning disabilities and how to handle them accordingly. Providing a shadow teacher allows the child to attend a mainstream class while receiving the extra attention that he needs. Shadow teachers are extensively trained to help the student interact with others and to assist with the child's schoolwork.
The decision to provide a shadow teacher for a student is usually made by a multi-disciplinary team that includes a school psychologist, regular ed and special ed teachers, parents and counselor. These team meetings can be made at the request of the parent or teacher. If the student does not already have an IEP, this needs to be addressed before a shadow teacher is considered. However, if the student has a current IEP, parents or school staff can ask for an IEP review meeting to discuss accommodations and additional needs.
A shadow teacher's services are very beneficial and can increase the child's quality of learning and overall classroom experience. These experts help the child focus, communicate, participate in class, socialize, show courtesy to others and control her behavior. Shadow teachers help special needs students learn independence, as well. Although regular teachers are instrumental, they might not possess the specific training that a shadow teacher has.
In order to become a shadow teacher, certain courses are required. These courses provide specific information about many types of disabilities and how to deal with them. These may include lessons on Attention Deficit Disorder, autism and dyslexia. Additionally, the training specifically instructs shadow teachers on how different subjects should be taught, depending on the disability.
Check the Qualifications
Shadow teachers should have either an associate arts or associate sciences degree in early childhood education or child development, a degree in an area such as special education, or an early childhood education certification. Ideally, the resumes for these teachers should demonstrate some in-class experience, according to a 2008 article published in "Education Quarterly." If you're a parent whose child has been placed under a shadow teacher, ask about the teacher's background.