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Having a Successful Mainstreaming Experience
Benna Golubtchik

Imagine one morning receiving a note from the principal informing you that Jane, a special education student, will be coming to your class for math every day. This scenario is not theoretical. Many teachers are faced with this phenomenon in increasing numbers.

This is what is probably going on in your head: I've got a full class with problems of my own. What do I do if she doesn't catch on? What do I do when she acts out? What kind of "extreme" behaviors can I expect from her?

Here are some specific suggestions to make this scenario a successful one for you, your students, and your mainstream student.

  1. Have a meeting with the student's teacher and perhaps her counselor. Find out what her capabilities, strengths, and weaknesses are. What is her best  learning modality? Does she process by using visual cues? Is she an auditory learner? Does she learn best kinesthetically? How did she earn an  opportunity to be in general education? What can she contribute to the class? Ask about her personality and her ability to develop relationships with peers and teachers. Does she have a sense of humor? When she behaves in a way that the teacher needs to intervene, what has worked for the special education teacher?

  2. Share with the special education teacher what your general education class is working on and provide him with the textbook. Ask that he work with the text for a week or so before entering your class. This will make her comfortable with the content and reduce tension.

  3. Allow the student to join your class for music, lunch, art, or other non-academic periods before she joins you for academic classes. Perhaps you can assign her a buddy to help her feel comfortable.

  4. Provide ongoing assessment to the student and have regularly scheduled meetings with her special education teacher. Provide positive feedback where needed, such as notes to parents.

Research has demonstrated that integration policies benefit all students. A thoughtful program and cooperation among the adults will increase the chances  for a successful mainstreaming experience for all students and teachers involved.

 

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