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Shelley Weachter

Exceptionality Reflection
Word Count: 533
Exceptionality covers a wide range of students and abilities. An exceptional
child is consider as someone that is either gifted or talented, has a physical or
sensory impairment, or has a learning or behavioral disability. As you can see, this is
quite a large spectrum. Through discourse with educators, I have learned a lot
about how special education works.
I interviewed Julie Foster, a deaf educator at Thomas Harrison Middle School
to get the SPED perspective and Mr. Rush, my cooperating teacher. According to her
the most challenging part of teaching SPED is accommodating the specific needs of
each child, the paperwork, and working with each students family. Although, these
should happen in all classrooms, it was not mentioned by my cooperating teacher.
Mrs. Foster stated that the biggest difference between special education and
general education classes is the extent of which a special education teacher must
accommodate and adjust to different learning styles; there are more
accommodations because the class is smaller and therefore more individualized. In
addition, Sped classes are often more visual, more hands on, and have more built in
repetition. A common thread through both discussions was collaboration. Mrs.
Foster has to meet with 4 different teams; grade level, sub-grade level, content
area, and individual teachers, so collaboration is a huge part of her job.
Harrisonburg high school is not set up in teams, so it looks differently for Mr. Rush.
He receives the IEP and the special education teacher checks in with him 4 times
during the semester. The special education teacher will also have a follow up with
the student, making sure all is going as it should. It has become very evident the
amount in which a teacher encounters exceptionalities.
Through my discussion with these teachers, I have learned the true
importance of collaboration. It became very clear that students with disabilities
need a specialized education, there is simply no other way to go about it because
few students with the same disability will respond to it in the same ways. To fully
understand a childs disability they should personally meet with the special
education department and do outside research. Although this is a lot of extra work,
it will greatly improve the students learning; therefore, it would be worth it. A
teachers main objective is to teach content, through investment teaching in turn
will become more rewarding.
In order to be the best teacher possible, I will incorporate exceptionalities into
multiculturalism. To do so, I will recognize to cultural needs of students and fulfill
them to the best of my abilities. For example, a deaf student may live in the Deaf
Community and therefore will have a different culture and only communicate with
sign language. I will either provide that student with written out notes or sign to him
or her. Similar to this accommodation, I will make changes to my teaching to ways
that allow for the most learning. I will not marginalize students because of their
disability or treat them with lower expectations. Lowering expectations for students
with disabilities is common because of pity, but pitying a student does not help
either party in the slightst.