In a classroom is a little town in Oregon, some students are yelling at their teacher, some are trying to hit and others aren’t talking at all. For teachers and instructional assistants working in the special education classroom, this is a normal day. Kristin Schriner is a special education teacher in a Developmental Learning Center, or DLC classroom in Roseburg, Oregon. She strives to provide academic success in many aspects of a child’s life in grades Kindergarten through fifth grade.
Schriner takes the needs of each student into consideration when considering different tools to use to better serve the children. This could include sensory items like playdoh, sensory boxes and therapy balls or visual supports like token charts, first/then cards and task analysis strips. Schriner also encourages open communication between herself and the families of the students. This allows for a better knowledge of the families’ concerns for their child and their education, which in turn, allows the teachers and instructional assistants to better serve the child.
While the main communication to the student comes from the special education teacher, each child has a team of people to support their education. This team generally consists of the special education teacher, the child’s general education teacher, an administrator, the parent or guardian and, depending on the needs of the child, specialists might be part of the team as well. According to Schriner, these specialists can include “physical therapist, occupational therapist, autism consultant, school psychologist, behavior specialist, child development specialist, child advocate, Community Living Case Management (CLCM) caseworker, Connect the Dots representative, cocoon nurse, tribal representative, child’s attorney, child welfare caseworker and school nurse.”
Children in special education programs have an Individualized Education Plan, or IEP, to help better serve them in their education. This IEP outlines the child’s needs, goals, and strengths. It also allows everyone in the child’s team to see the progress they are making and where improvements can still be made. A child’s IEP is essential in help them achieve any goals they might have while also notifying team members of any accommodations that might be needed to help the child succeed.
When interacting with these kids, it is important to treat them with kindness and respect, as one would with any child. According to Schriner, “The most important thing to remember about these children is that they are capable and have the potential to learn and thrive in the community.” Anyone wanting to further support these children can do so by coordinating volunteer hours with the lead teacher or administrator. While these children have more intense needs than the average child, they are also students in need of learning.