Thereare always two sides to every coin, or are they three? It depends onthe perspective from which you are looking at that coin. I have heardmany versions of inclusion in learning institutions. Due to differentversions that I was hearing, I decided to embark on the expedition ofinterviewing a special education teacher about his thoughts andexperiences regarding inclusive learning environments. This is howthe interview went:
Me:Howfair is inclusion for all students, including those who do NOT haveIEPs?
Teacher:inclusion has its own share of ups as well as downs. To answer yourquestion, I would say that inclusion is not totally fair as it hasalways been perceived to be. To begin with, haphazard inclusion endsup bringing more harm to disabled students than those withoutdisabilities. Teachers are as well at the receiving end of inclusion.This is because more students are given to a teacher who is not ableto manage the huge number of students. A teacher end being frustratedover a classroom full of students with no proper support. Soinclusion is not fair to all students.
Me:What are the expectations for students with disabilities in generaleducation classes?
Teacher:Most students with disabilities expect to be treated in a specialmanner. This does not mean they want to be treated differently fromtheir counterparts, but they will separate themselves from the rest.They want to be understood and loved just the way they are. At times,there are those who will be isolated by others just because they seemdifferent from the rest.
Me:Howmany students with disabilities should be in a single classroom?
Teacher:I would recommend no more than fifteen students with disabilities perclass in inclusive settings. This will give the teacher an ample timeto tender for their needs. A single classroom with many students withdisabilities will be an overload to a teacher and this willultimately hurt many kids.
Me:What is the role of the special education teacher in inclusiveschools? What about the general education teacher?
Teacher:A special education teacher in an inclusive school has a role ofmaking sure that needs of students with special needs are attendedto. He is supposed to make these kids feel at home and make sure thatthey are not discriminated against by other students. He should alsofind ways of boosting those kids’ self-efficacy. The role of ageneral education teacher is to teach kids without disabilities togive moral support to their counterparts and show them that they areequal. They should make them understand that equality andsocialization should accompany-not replace.
Me:Is it ever okay to pull a student with a disability out of a classfor a specialized service?
Teacher:I don’t think so. This is because such a student will feeldiscriminated and this will lead to low self-esteem of such astudent.
Me:How can we convince other people—including administrators andparents—that inclusive practices are right for ALL students?
Teacher:I believe that full inclusion is the right thing to do, however,problems of what to do for extreme cases should be solved first. Thiscan only be possible if the society at large stopped discriminationagainst students with disabilities. Parents and administrators shouldknow that inclusive practices will help students without disabilitiesto accept their counterparts. This will create equality andself-efficacy for students with disabilities will be boosted. It willbe hard for inclusion to work if victimizers and victims are put inthe same place.
Me:What is the most difficult aspect of inclusion?
Teacher:discrimination against students with disabilities. This is the mostdifficult aspect followed by too many students for a single teacherto handle.
Fromthe above interview, it is crystal clear that inclusion is not sowelcomed by many special teachers. Insofar as the teacher supportsinclusion, he thinks that there are many disadvantages that come withit. The findings of this interview were that disabled children arenot only the ones that are on the receiving end of inclusion, butteachers as well. The overloaded classrooms due to inclusion aremaking teachers not to execute their mandate adequately to disabledstudents. Teachers are as well not getting the required support fromthe society for inclusion.
Inconclusion, inclusion has both the good side as well as the bad side.Based on the interview, the teachers of disabled students are somehowfrustrated due to too many students in a single classroom. Thestudents on the other hand are not fully getting the moral supportfrom the teachers due to overloading of classes.