1David Tyohee Annor
1Department of Educational Psychology,
College of Education, Katsina-Ala
2Department of Primary Education Studies,
College of Education,Katsina-Ala
This article discussed issues bordering on the roles the regular teacher plays daily in the inclusive classroom. It paid particular attention to regular teacher preparation as a key weapon that will enable him to perform effectively in the inclusive classroom. Classroom organization and management are key criteria that enhance instructional function of the regular teacher which the article took care of. Providing instructions as a major role of the regular teacher in the inclusive classroom was emphasized upon in the article, and was discussed under the following: Individualized instruction, Educational collaboration, curriculum modification and referral, challenges faced by the regular teacher as he discharges his role in the inclusive classroom involving professionals and other related authorities such as care givers, doctors were brought to light.
Role is the job, duties, functions, responsibilities that one carries out in his effort to perform that which is assigned to him/her in a place of work. It is the primary assignment of an individual in an organization. Turnbull, Lea Parkinson, Philip, Ben, Web, and Ashby (2010), defined roles as “the function or position that somebody has or is expected to have in an organization, in society or in a relationship; the role of the teacher in 11ic classroom; a part or character taken by an actor, any assumed character or function”.
Every teacher is the manager of the children’s learning. As a teacher, you influence the children you teach-in many ways. Because of you, many of them learn things that they will remember for the rest of their lives from him. Dean (1993) says that as a regular teacher how you discharge this responsibility depends not only on the person you are and the relationships you are able to build with children and colleagues, even though these are also important. The ability to organize children’s learning, the actual teaching skills you posses, you ability to observe, select, assess, evaluate and so on, are crucial and make all the difference between the group in inch most of the children come near to achieving their full potentials and in which most are under achieving. Children are normally with the regular teacher for the majority of the time so that he or she is able to know them well. Most regular teachers in primary schools also have some freedom to plan the work as seem best to them. Inclusive education as the name implies includes or accepts or welcomes all persons into a class, school or community as full members not minding their conditions (abilities or disabilities, potentials or deviations) and also value them. The center for studies in inclusive education (CSIE) as cited by Okoba (2007), defines inclusive education as “a programme for all children and young people with or without disabilities or difficulties learning together in ordinary primary provisions, schools, colleagues and universities with appropriate network of supports”. He went further to explain that the essential marks of inclusive education are that its client are not limited to exceptional children in the traditional delineation of die term, but indeed all children having problems with learning and the normal children as well.
Inclusive education therefore is an educational placement that includes all rather than rejects anyone from being placed in the main stream of education in the class, school or community unless education in the inclusive classroom cannot be achieved satisfactory even after applying appropriate aids and services.
The inclusive classroom is a beehive of activities. It is child-centered and based on learning centers, with every instructional material and skill in place. Educational goals are always well defined.
This paper therefore addresses the regular teacher’s roles in inclusive education from these clear perspective:
- Regular teacher preparation
- Classroom organization and management
- Providing instruction
- Individual instruction
- Educational collaboration
- Curriculum modification
- Challenges faced by the regular teacher conclusion.
Regular teacher preparation
When regular teachers are prepared only in general education curriculum, difficulties arise when he or she is faced with the provision of specia education instruction to special education needs children in the inclusive classroom. Teacher preparation programs sometimes fail to prepare teachers to teach all the students who might be in their classroom. This lapse makes the regular teacher incompetent and unprepared for inclusive classroom teaching.
In Nigeria, Ozoji (2003) avers that it is only of recent that teacher preparation programmes like the NCE and B.Ed have included elements of special education in the preparation of teacher to handle special education cases in the inclusive classroom. This is very necessary considering the number of children with special education needs participating in the general education curriculum. Even though this is the right step towards the right direction it is still not enough. The preparation should be beyond elements of special education to addition of one or two courses which will give deeper preparation as it should be embedded in the National Policy on Education to give it a legal backing.
Ainscow (1994), opines that in the inclusive classroom, the regular teacher preparation is a task that is concerned with how to help teachers adopt a wider perspective to educational difficulties and the approaches he can apply. He explains that teacher development programmes should be organized in a manner that facilitates their learning. Resources to be used might include course activities, other people’s idea and perspective and evidence from elsewhere. The importance point to note is that those external resources are intended to be used by teachers to consider their own previous experiences, the current ways of working existing beliefs and assumptions. They can be used to reflect upon wider issues that impact upon the teacher’s work.
In-service teacher training programme is another means through which regular teachers can be adequately prepared while on the job. The aim of this programme is to equip them with recent trends in the curriculum of special needs education. More so, the teacher in training had the opportunity to share her experience in the inclusive classroom with special teachers.
Classroom organization and management
It is evident that children with special education needs enrolled in normal educational settings face the problems that affect their educational progress. The gravity of such effect demands positive actions on the part of regular teachers among others. This section is bent on seeing how best regular classroom teachers can help pupils with special education needs meet up with challenges ahead of them. Averson and Amwe (1996), discuss some of the ways a regular teacher can organize and manage the inclusive classroom to attain efficiency in his work. They maintained that a pupil may require a special means of gaining access to areas of curriculum, for some it may be necessary to provide a special room or unit in which specialist teaching is carried out, others might require special equipment for use in the regular classroom. Arrangement of furniture with the teaching area can do much to maximize these opportunities.
Pupils’ grouping irrespective of how the classroom furniture was arranged is vey important. Teachers may be aware of the advantages and disadvantages of allowing all the pupils complete freedom of choice as regards where to sit. This is while not to discourage the development of friendship, teachers want to ensure that all pupils derive benefit from the educational opportunities provided and to this end identify important principles with regards to the location of pupils with hearing impairment to lip-read easily; organizing group work for pupils to sit round a table etc.
The teacher will provide many manipulative and opportunities for small group learning. In the small group for instance in a spelling activity a group of students may be assigned to cut and paste the letters from newspapers or use magnetic letters to manipulate the words, another may be asked to use coloured shaving cream to print the word.
Organizing and managing in the classroom arrangement is very important no matter how well regular teachers may be trained and prepared. They cannot just teach anyhow. They can only deliver when the classroom environment supports teaching by freeing teachers from having to figure out from moment what they are supposed to do, from having to discipline children, to get them line up.
Time management is yet another area that the regular teacher pays due attention to. This takes cognizance of the fact that children work generally better when a consistent routine of activities at specific times is used within the classroom.
A regular teacher establishes classroom rules. This aims at telling children the behaviour expected within the classroom.
The regular teacher’s primary assignment in inclusive education is to make sure that the wide range of children with various abilities and disabilities that have special education needs will benefit optimally according to their areas of needs. With Ipso facto receiving instruction from the same curriculum which may present an obstacle for students with special education needs, some of these obstacles can be addressed curriculum modifications and others. In the same vein, Hunt and Marshall (2005), say that educational collaboration can be between teachers or among peers. They classify the teacher-directed instructional alternatives as; consultation, collaboration, co-teaching and peer tutoring. In all these options the regular education teacher works with the one who has expertise in special education or specific area of instructional support such as educational technology, mobility in the inclusive classroom.
This is the instructional model that is aimed at working with an individual child in his or her particular area of educational needs or difficulty. It involves a regular teacher, special education teacher, a peer, class assistant or older students teaching a student with special education needs in the area of his or her need in the inclusive classroom set-up.
In individualization, the regular teacher prepares and presents instruction and materials for the various range of abilities and aptitude represented in the class, though not in isolation of the special education teacher and other professionals in the field.
Since inclusive education permits a minimal number of learners in the classroom, individualized instruction is made possible for example, students with sensory impairments do not receive the same level of visual or auditory stimulus as their sighted peers or child with learning disability whose deficiency manifests in reading or writing needs a different form of instruction from a child with autism who needs behavioural tutoring.
This is an instructional option that describes the process whereby both regular and special education teachers identify the problems or difficulties a child is experiencing and work together to find intervention strategies. Dettmer, Thurston and Dyck as cited by Hunt and Marshall (2005). According to them, collaboration can be in the form of co-teaching consultation, and peer-assisted learning strategies (PALS).
In this method the regular teacher works with the special education teacher in the classroom. It involves the provision of rich opportunities for general education and special education teachers to work together in the classroom. Co-teaching model involves the following formats:
1st Model: One person teaching in classroom, one teacher preparing materials and offering strategies but does not actually teach in the classroom. Another format is one teach, one observes a student in the classroom and perhaps takes data, evaluates students’ responses’ response to instruction etc while the other teacher provides instruction.
2nd Model: Two teachers in the classroom one supplementing general instruction. One teacher teaches the other drifts. This means that one teacher circulates around the classroom helping students with particular needs, and the co-teacher instructs the entire group.
This is an alternative teaching in which, one teacher provides remediation, enrichment, or specialized instruction for students who need it while the other provides instruction for the rest of the group.
3rd Model: Two teachers in classroom, both delivering general instruction. This third model involves station teaching in which the curriculum content is broken into components each teacher teaches one part of the content or group of children, then children switch to the other teacher parallel, here the class is broken into two groups of students. Each teacher teaches the same content material. It could also he inform of team teaching-both teachers deliver the instruction together at the same time sharing leadership in the classroom.
This is another form of instructional option in which the regular teacher receives suggestion from the special teacher after the special teacher has observed the student, in the regular classroom. The regular teacher adapts instruction or materials to meet the specific needs of the student with special education needs in his or her class.
The Peer-Assisted Learning Strategies (PALS)
This is a form of instructional option that takes place in the regular classroom that is coordinated by the regular teacher. According to Hunts and Marshall (2006) the regular prepare students with a seri4es of scripted lesson. Students are grouped into dyads. It is a form of peer tutoring in which the stronger peer helps the weaker one to learn to read. Hunt and Marshall cite Fuchs, Fuehs, Mathes and Simmons (1996) as classifying activities in peer-assisted learning strategies into:
- Partner reading in which the peer tutor and the other student both read for five minutes.
- Paragraph shrinking in which both students read the text aloud,, stopping at the end of each paragraph to state the main idea in not more than ten word;
- Prediction relay: The reader makes predictions about the content of a half page of text and then reads the text. While this student reads the tutor corrects errors.
Leaner (2001) is of the opinion that curriculum can be modified through the following means: The difficulty level of the material used can be modified to meet the present performance and tolerance level of the student. She said that the concept of reading applies here. She is of the opinion that many students feel tasks are too difficult and the level of performance required is far beyond their present ability. This can lead to complete breakdown in learning. It can also be enriched or expanded for the gifted child.
Language can also be modified to enhance students learning. To assure that language clarifies rather than confusion. The number of pieces of work can be reduced by giving the pupil fewer pages to complete or fewer spelling words to learn. The regular teacher can reduce the number of pictures on walls and bulletin boards. Control the lighting and the colour of the room or furnishing, and reduce his or her own verbalization.
Referral is the formal procedure of initiating the special education study for the student with special education needs. It is one of the three broad stages of assessment-teaching process. Once referral is made school personnel follow it up.
Learner (2001) classified referral into two broad stage, pre-referral activities Referral and initial planning.
This includes the establishment of working relationship between schools to which the regular teacher can go for help. Regular teacher consultations with the building team about a students’ academic and behaviour problems and the implementation of suggested interventions in the classroom for example the regular teacher assistance team. Here a team of three regular education teachers in the school plus the referral teachers meet to brainstorm and to help the referring teacher develop a plan to enhance the student’s performance in the classroom.
Referral and Initial Planning
Leaner (2001) says that the initial referral of a student for evaluation can come through several sources like the regular class teacher, parents or other professional who have contact with the students or a self referral by the student. Once the referral is made, school personnel must follow up the referral. Parents must be notified of the school’s concern and must give written permission for an evaluation. Decision is now made about the general kinds of assessment data needed and who will be responsible for gathering the information. In all these the regular teacher is involved in one way or the other.
Challenges faced by the regular teacher
Regular teacher in the inclusive classroom undergoes diverse difficulties in his bid to perform his duties on a daily basis. Such challenges if not addressed will in turn hamper the achievement of inclusive education goals.
In the inclusive classroom, there is a wide range of students with abilities and disabilities. This calls for varieties of program options to take care of the various needs of the students. This in turn calls for diverse specialized personnel to collaborate with the regular teacher to make the work easier but where the various program options are not there and the personnel also unavailable, the regular teacher is left in a dilemma of how to go about his duties. This can lead him into frustration and resentment of the whole system.
Regular teachers are often not prepared to work with students who have special needs that vary significantly from the needs of the other members of the class. Affleck, Lowwenbraun and Acher (1980), says that one of the major complains of regular teachers relates to their own feelings of inadequacy in teaching the disabled child. Teacher training does not include preparation for or knowledge about children whose learning deficit are marked by rather specific characteristics that cannot be easily remediated usual classroom teaching approach. It can be better understood or they can be understood or identify by the professionals.
Classroom control is another bottle neck faced by regular teachers in the inclusive classroom. The ability to manage behaviour, channel them into productive use and to create a calm atmosphere where each person-children and teachers alike can fulfil his or her role. Affleck say that just as it is the regular teacher’s responsibility to improve the academic skills of mildly handicapped and low performing children, it is also her responsibility to promote appropriate social personal behaviour and to establish an environment conducive to that behaviour. Just as children function well in an orderly classroom so too does the teacher.
Again her inability to collaborate with the school principal, parents, resources room, teachers, school counsellor to establish an environment that will meets her needs as a teacher and the needs of the learner in her class becomes a big laps on her part.
In most cases, the large environments and overcrowding in many inclusive classrooms leave the regular teacher without the time necessary to individualize instruction because of lack of skills in special education.
The inclusive education itself is a very laudable programme that is widely accepted and has come to stay, but looking at the role played by the regular teacher in the inclusive classroom especially in Nigeria, one discovers that it is a very challenging one. The structure of the classroom is all encompassing the instructional options, equipment and facilities, professional in the field-and many more not being easily available all contribute to make it a difficult task for him, since he cannot work in isolation in the inclusive education classroom.
To enable the regular teacher to perform optimally in the inclusive education classroom, the writer has these few recommendations:
Educational institutions like Colleges of Education and Universities should make adequate teacher preparation to equip the regular teacher for the task ahead of him.
Other professionals in related field should support, cooperate and collaborate with the regular teacher to make his work easier.
Classroom enrolment should be as minimal as possible to make individualized instruction possible.
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