Inclusion: Hes Just a Goofy Guy

Learn about and discuss some of the issues related to inclusion, accommodations, behavior management, and collaboration.

Scenario

Jake is an energetic third-grader with a learning disability. Although he is considered “one of the gang” by his classmates and is excelling academically during the two hours he is included in a general education class, Betty, his general education teacher, feels he just “wouldn’t fit in” a general education classroom full time. On the other hand, Sharon, his resource teacher, sees no reason why he would not be successful.

Betty Armstrong’s classroom is meticulously organized. There are twenty desks, exactly four rows of five, and not one even an inch out of place. In the back of the room is the small-group reading table with two neat stacks of readers and workbooks beside a precisely-covered box of pencils, erasers, and crayons. A few examples of students’ work, each matted in coordinating colors, are displayed in the room. Also prominently displayed is a job-board listing students’ names and the classroom chores for which they are responsible. Everything has its place and everything is always in its place––well, almost always.

It was 10:00 a.m., time for reading. Jake and David came into the room as they did every day. They went directly to their desks as Ms. Armstrong had always insisted. Jake bumped his desk out of place as he sat down. He cocked his head to the side, put his feet up on the wire rack under his friend Amy’s desk, and gave her a big, lopsided grin.

“Okay, class, it is time to work on your story projects,” Ms. Armstrong announced to her third graders, who looked at her enthusiastically. Jake fidgeted in his seat. “We just have two more days to get them done before open house,” the teacher continued.

Jake excitedly shuffled through the papers inside his desk. “Ah! There they are––my crayons,” he said as he grabbed them and put them on top of his desk, while still holding his desk top up with his other hand. “I will put an octopus on…”

Inclusion: He’s Just a Goofy Guy

Scenario [Cont.]

Just then his left hand let go of his desktop, and down it came! BANG! His crayons fell all over the floor.

“Uh oh!” Jake hurried to pick up his crayons, hoping that Ms. Armstrong wouldn’t notice. As he bent down, his glasses slid off his face.

As all this was going on, Ms. Armstrong was watching Jake out of the corner of her eye. “That young man sure has a difficult time with organization,” she thought. She sighed as she considered the amount of energy it took to try to get him to fit in.

Betty Armstrong had been a teacher for six years. Her colleagues considered her to be a competent teacher committed to literacy and on top of things concerning curriculum and instruction. Betty often said that it was her goal to make kids feel good about being in school and especially about being a part of her class. She had high expectations for her students and required them to work hard to meet those expectations.

This year, Betty had Jake and David, two students from a special education class. They came to Betty’s class two hours a day for math and reading. Both students had a learning disability, but Jake also had some fine motor problems and behaviors typical of students labeled attention deficit disorder with hyperactivity (ADHD)––although he had never been diagnosed.

Sharon Moss, the special education teacher in the early education class, checked regularly with Betty to see how the two students were doing. Sharon had been a special education teacher for six years and had built a good rapport with the general education teachers. Sharon decided it was time to discuss with Betty the integration of both boys in general education full time.  She sat down with Betty and asked her how things were going.

“Oh, both kids are doing great academically. David is often the first to raise his hand with the correct answers when I verbally quiz the class, and Jake reads so well! But, Jake’s behavior–– it’s just not typical. He’s a goofy little guy, you know,” she said with a smile.

“Well, maybe we should consider extending their time in general education,” Sharon suggested.

“I could see David being successful in general education full-time, but I don’t know about Jake. His behavior is really not appropriate for a general education classroom,” responded Betty.

Inclusion: He’s Just a Goofy Guy

Est. Time: 1 Hour

Scenario [Cont.]

“But you are always talking about how well Jake does in the classroom. You say he gets along with the other students and he really excels in math. What exactly does he do that makes you think he could not be successful if included full-time?” Sharon pushed.

“Well, during seat work, he never gets started on time. He’s constantly shuffling through the papers in his desk. He always needs to sharpen his pencil or something. He just can’t keep himself organized like the other kids. Sometimes he’ll even play the class clown and fall out of his desk,” she explained.

“Do you think that those reasons are enough to keep him out of the general education classroom?”  Sharon asked gently. “I would appreciate it if you gave the idea some more thought.”

Betty shrugged her shoulders and gave a questioning look, “Okay, I’ll think about it.”  Betty patted Sharon on the shoulder before leaving. She felt she had failed to convince Betty. How was she going to persuade Betty that Jake deserved a chance to be included in the general education class full time?  “Betty has always been one of the best teachers for welcoming students with disabilities into her classroom. Some teachers don’t even want our kids in their rooms. I have got to work this out,” Sharon said to herself with determination.

Questions/Discussion Topics

  1. Why do you think Betty is resistant to having Jake in her class? Do you think Jake is ready to be placed in a general education classroom full-time?  Why or why not?
  2. How can Sharon and Betty work together to best serve Jake’s needs? What types of services or support would help Betty be more comfortable with having Jake in her classroom full-time?
  3. Should Jake’s parents and other education professionals be involved in the decision process?
  4. What types of services or support would help Jake make a successful transition to a fulltime general education classroom? What strategies can be implemented to address Jake’s behavior and improve his organizational skills?

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