Pass or Fail: Training Teachers in Areas of Developmental Delay and Inclusion
In this multi-part series, I provide a dissection of the phenomenon of retention and social promotion. Also, I describe the many different methods that would improve student instruction in classrooms and eliminate the need for retention and social promotion if combined effectively.
While reading this series, periodically ask yourself this question: Why are educators, parents and the American public complicit in a practice that does demonstrable harm to children and the competitive future of the country?
As a teacher, you really can only do so much. What would you want parents to know if their child had a developmental delay or disability?
The strength of strategies and special-education support resources can only do so much to promote the academic success of students who have a developmental delay or disability. Regular classroom teachers remain vital touchstones for early intervention, not only as key figures in the diagnostic process, but also as supporters of early intervention models and implementers of certain early-intervention strategies.
Teachers must receive training to spot students who could benefit from special-education supports. Likewise, all teachers involved in the teaching of preschoolers who are within the age range for early intervention, need to have specific training and knowledge to understand student needs clearly enough to be able to spot potential developmental or learning issues. All teachers and general educators, and not just those working in early childhood, should receive specific training in teaching special education programs. All teachers need to understand how to provide support in a holistic way.
Learning Outside the Classroom
One of the biggest challenges for effective early intervention is the development of a system that provides consistent supports across all settings. School success depends on the ability of children to function on many levels and their ability to adapt to change and manage stress. Learning opportunities exist for children everywhere, especially young children. Early intervention should be able to take advantage of this and teach the natural caregivers and supporters how to use these opportunities. There are many programs that can inspire parents to help their children learn. For instance, many public libraries offer reading programs over the summer, partly to help parents minimize loss of skills over the summer months. Such programs are not always as well supported as they might be. Teachers and special-education professionals are well placed to offer parents information about these sorts of programs.
Teachers should be encouraged to share information about how the child can be supported in their learning outside the classroom. Feedback and insights about the child’s needs and their experiences at school, as those experiences relate to and affect the home environment, are also important. Parent–teacher communication, where early intervention and school-based supports are needed to facilitate a child’s learning, are crucial. Early-intervention and special-education systems should help teachers understand family concerns and the needs of exceptional students. This assistance will help teachers meet those needs and communicate with parents about their students’ knowledge and skills.
Beyond highly trained teachers and well-informed and involved parents, what can be done to maximize the effectiveness of early intervention programs? How would our current system need to change in order for those elements to receive top priority?