In January 2011 the Board of Regents for the New York Stated Education Department (NYSED) approved Teaching Standards. NYSED will also be requiring a three-credit course on Inclusive Education for prospective Secondary General Education Teachers in teacher education programs. What should be the curriculum for such a course? Members of the New York State Task Force for Quality Inclusive Schools (NYSTFQIS) have discussed what this course should include and how the minimum fifteen hour field work requirement could advance prospective teachers’ related knowledge and pedagogy.
Identifying themes and their related concepts definitely make sense. Big themes should then be further specified by component or related concepts. “How can we use NYSED's new requirements of a stand-alone course on SWDs and at least 15 hours of field experience focused on SWDs to promote effective inclusive practices among general educators at the Adolescence level?”
Undoubtedly a single course and 15 hours of field experience will not provide Nirvana but it is an important next step in the process toward effective inclusionary practices throughout NYS. I advocate for using the opportunity to develop this course so as to further identify solutions rather than simply creating a mask to conceal problems with special education policies and practices. Given this I encourage the development of this course to provide a strong foundation for inclusive practices and avoid the tendency to over-reach. If effective tenets are formed for this course then the successful results will inspire further steps toward better inclusive practices based on success experiences.
I encourage a review and endorsement of the following four essential themes and related components as the foundational underpinnings for developing an Inclusive Education Course for Secondary General Education Teachers:
1. Exhibition of effective collaboration (Blanton, Pugach, & Florian, 2011)\
a. This requires identification and understanding of various collaborative and classroom management models.
b. This also requires exhibition of collaborative practices during field work.
2. Identification and utilization of appropriate instructional resources for secondary teachers (Bryan, 2011)
a. This requires research to identify resources for scientific or research-based interventions designed to mitigate disabilities in the content specialization area, in reading, and in writing.
b. This also requires implementation of scientific or research-based interventions designed to mitigate disabilities in the content specialization area, in reading, and in writing during field work.
3. Exhibition of progress monitoring skills and strategies (Maheady, 2011)
a. This requires proficiency with best practices related to progress monitoring and the promotion of an evidence-based culture
i. Understanding the RTI process
ii. Monitoring of a collaboratively developed intervention.
b. This requires research to locate resources for progress monitoring charts or tools related to content specialization.
c. This requires explication of how to promote an evidence-based culture in the school.
d. This also requires progress monitoring based on a collaboratively identified content specialization intervention during field work.
4. Development of differentiated lessons that scaffold for optimal student success (Attainment of this essential ability for promoting inclusive practices should require effective utilization of the three proficiencies noted above)
a. This requires proficiency with developing differentiated lessons based on content specialization
i. Identification and creation of measureable lesson objectives
ii. Identification of effective accommodations
iii. Explication of how lessons will promote student success based on collaboration, utilization of developed intervention tools, integration of accommodations, and monitoring for success
b. This also requires implementation of developed differentiated lessons based on content specialization during field work.
i. Proficient presentation of lessons promoting student success based on collaboration, utilization of developed intervention tools, integration of accommodations, and monitoring for success.
To help you gather more information on the topic and become familiar with inclusive practices, Dr Kosik of Syracuse University provided a sampling of multimedia resources such as: Fat City, which he finds helps get students talking about issues such as perception and motivation. He also utilizes the hyperlinked video on dyslexia, which gets his prospective teachers thinking about the difficulties people face when confronted with text throughout their lives. You are also encouraged to review methods for changing beliefs.
As either an in-service and pre-service teacher, you are encouraged to contact NYSED’s Office of Special Education to provide input for the discussions that will help develop the tenets for this important course, which can promote better inclusive practices and, as a result, increase social justice for students with disabilities.