Every student MUST have a general education teacher…
I struggle with even writing this post because the foundation of Equitable Teaching is to ensure that every student has their learning outcomes met through the accessibility of their general education teacher. The truth is however, is that this is often not the case.
Every student with an Individual Education Plan (IEP) must first belong to general education classroom with a general education teacher. Their special education teacher and classroom does not replace this.
Just like parents and caregivers, the value placed on general educators can be understood through the requirement of their presence at the entirety of all IEP meetings. If a general educator cannot attend a meeting there are only two options. The meeting is rescheduled or the parents give written permission for the teacher to not attend.
The reason for this is really two-fold. First the thoughts and insights about the student from a general education perspective are incredibly valuable to the development of the IEP. Second, participation in the IEP allows teachers to have an in-depth perspective of the student, their goals, objectives and most importantly accommodations and modifications.
In my opinion the accommodation and modification section of the IEP is one of the most important sections. Why? Because, this section encompasses the list of supports that the team has determined to be the most useful in promoting success for the student throughout the school day.
A school day which should include time in the general education classroom. Therefore, it is essential for a general education teacher to be aware of what those accommodations and modifications are. This is not to say that implementation of accommodations and modifications is only the responsibility of the general education teacher.
Effective and sustainable implementation truly requires a combined effort between many members of the IEP team. Yet, awareness on the part of the general educator will contribute to the overall success of the student and lead to a greater potential for inclusion.
When I was working solely as a special education teacher I had the privilege of seeing this in action often during IEP meetings, as general education teachers would share their ideas on how they could further support student growth within their classrooms.
From the parent perspective, I witnessed the value in this involvement as well. My son was blessed with having many wonderful general education teachers that accepted him for just who he was. They welcomed him into their classroom just as they would any of their students and made it a point to ensure his success. During those school years he thrived! Unfortunately, my son has also had teachers that were not so welcoming and in fact made him feel as if he did not belong in the classroom. During those school years he struggled. Luckily, there were far more fabulous general education teachers than not!
The experiences of my son and my experiences as an educator demonstrated for me the value of the general education teachers involvement with each and every student in their classroom and the impact they can have on a student’s success. It only makes sense that their participation in the IEP meeting is required!
Further information in our Advocacy resources.