Special Education Practices are really just Best Practices

My special challenge this year is that in addition to teaching, attending workshops, submitting speaking proposals, and side curriculum work is… school.  As an agreement for taking this position at the juvenile center, I needed to have a special education license.  I am currently enrolled in a Master’s of Special Education program through Concordia Saint Paul.  I’ll keep posting my assignments from this work on my resources tab.

Before I worked at First City, I taught at Cass Lake Schools- located on the Cass Lake Reservation.  Students identified as needing special education or other services constituted a significant percent of our student body.  As such, I wasn’t new to differentiation for students with learning disabilities.  But here’s the catch- interventions for students with learning disabilities aren’t unique, they are things we should be doing in our classes already.

  1. “Billy will improve reading rate in _ grade level mazes of the Monitoring Basic Skills Program (MBSP) for reading from _ words correct to _ words correct through the use computerized reading instruction.”
  2. “Billy will ask questions regarding key details in a teacher read story, from not asking questions related to key details, to asking questions that relate to the main details of a teacher read story, ____ time(s) per class period, using small group instruction, as measured by teacher observational notes.”

Wait, why wouldn’t we do that for any student?  Don’t we use these accommodations for any student who is struggling?  Since we know Billy is struggling in reading and comprehension, would we not develop a plan to help him overcome this?  Would we try to accommodate Billy only through whole group instruction?  Why shouldn’t we already be doing this?

  1. “Billy will increase the ability to add positive and negative numbers from no understanding of negative numbers to adding both positive and negative numbers through the use of group instruction and use of manipulatives/computers.”
  2. “Billy will increase the ability to interpret data displays from no understanding of data displays to the ability to interpret data displayed with tallies, bar graphs, pie charts, line graphs and pictographs through the use of small group instruction and use of manipulatives/computers.”

These are goals I find through SpedEd forms and IEPs.  As teachers, are we NOT using computers and manipulatives (and drawings, and whatever else) to enhance instruction in the classroom?  Do these goals sound like they are only applicable to Students in Special Education?

I am in no way bashing Special Education, I’m just trying to get firm base on what I need to do to be a successful SpedEd Teacher.  Right now I am slightly confused, these are not things that are foreign in my classroom.  These are things that ALL students will benefit from.  My concern as a teacher would be if I saw these goals and wondered “How am I going to implement this?


What I am getting so far from this coursework is this: Special Education is not just about making changes for students with learning disabilities.  Its about accommodations that work not only for them, but for our whole student population.  It’s about good teaching practices, and using them everyday- for every student.


Special Education teachers are reminders of what should be happening in your classroom, go find one and work with them to make your classroom a great place for every student who enters your room.

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3 thoughts on “Special Education Practices are really just Best Practices

  1. I understand COMPLETELY. Other teachers would ask me, “How many special ed kids do you have?” years ago and I’d say, “none”. They’d ask why I hadn’t referred anyone and how they needed to follow all of these goals. I’d always ask, “Why aren’t you doing them already?” The last thing I wanted was someone mandating more paperwork for me to do. How about I just differentiate on my own. When will the paperwork EVER stop?

  2. Hello! This post was recommended for MTBoS 2015: a collection of people’s favorite blog posts of the year. We would like to publish an edited volume of the posts and use the money raised toward a scholarship for TMC. Please let us know by responding via email to tina.cardone1@gmail.com whether or not you grant us permission to include your post. Thank you, Tina and Lani.

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