My SpEd question changed a bit over the course of my practicum. In fact, it changed quite early on. My original question was; how do I make my classroom inclusive when I have students who are being pulled out for other activities (I feel that immediately breaks inclusiveness)?
It didn’t take long for me to see the benefits of some of the pull out programs and without them, these students wouldn’t be able to fully participate in the classroom activities without those pull out activities. Seeing this really made me switch my perspective on things and my new SpEd inquiry became; about the benefits to really getting to know your students well, regardless of whether or not they have a specific designation and how getting to know them really helps the students be the most successful, but it also makes my job as a teacher so much easier.
First, it’s important to know your students, to know which ones would benefit from the different pull out activities. Secondly, for me, it was important to get to know my students so that I could know how they ‘tick’. As I watched students in different lessons, activities, etc., I was able to notice different things. For example, I noticed that one of my students is an avid drawer, one of my students loves to read, another student struggles with boredom about EVERYTHING, and another one is not satisfied until a job/experiment/assignment is completed to its fullest potential. This means that I had to give extra time to the student who needed to see an experiment be successful (he wasn’t happy that his circuit wasn’t working and didn’t move on until he could figure out why – his was the only one and there was nothing wrong with it – I think the battery was dead).
While the students were working on their final science project, one of my students said he was done. I could see he wasn’t done but he was using any excuse possible to tell me he didn’t know anything more. I knew, from my observations throughout the unit, that he knew more. I sat down with him and had a mini conference with him about the unit and started scribing what he was telling me and he knew a lot more than he thought. Essentially, he was tired of writing and to him it didn’t matter anymore, he was checked out; but to talk orally comes a lot easier for him and he knew it all.
This same student is the student who loves to draw, and the finished product of his graphic novel was phenomenal. It goes to show that just because a student doesn’t have good written output on a project or test; doesn’t mean they don’t know the material.
What I’ve learnt is that whenever possible, check in with your students, get to know your students and do whatever you can to make them the most successful they can be!