Though I had never intended to become a special education teacher, I felt that the best way to learn how to address the needs of Manuel and other diverse learners in my classroom was to learn how to implement the strategies specifically designed to provide multiple points of access, engagement, and differentiated assessment.
Within the first semester next year, I was able to implement many of the strategies I learned in class.
By the end of that year, my students were making progress, and I finally felt the feeling I went into teaching to feel: I was making a difference.
I believe that teacher certification should be restructured to provide all teachers with enough of a basic level of knowledge to teach diverse learners, including more comprehensive strategies that focus on inclusive practices.
Seventy to eighty percent of general education teachers surveyed report that they feel unprepared to teach diverse learners. And yet, according to IDEA, ninety five percent of students with disabilities spend at least part of their day in the general education setting. Special education teachers are given entire semesters to learn the process that provides targeted support for students based on their academic or behavioral needs, yet general education teachers are the ones expected to implement it in their classrooms. If I had been trained using the techniques and coursework provided to special education teachers, I would not have had to seek out an additional degree to fulfill the basic expectations of my job.