What supports do teachers need

     In order to effectively implement inclusive education teachers need supports in the classroom.  Not all supports need to be costly and there are a few methods that teachers can implement themselves.  Following are some examples of methods that countries have implemented to deal with limited funding but were still able to achieve inclusive education.

     In dealing with limited resources, Costa Rica has used innovative and resourceful methods to include students with disabilities in general education classrooms. Costa Rica has implemented policies that have enabled students with a disability in inclusive settings access to the curriculum by providing extra help for students with disabilities.  Instead of creating segregated classrooms, Costa Rica built in additional instructional periods for students with learning disabilities called “recargo” where teachers with special education training work with students who have learning disabilities in small groups.  According to Shaywitz (2003) the most critical accommodation for dyslexics is the provision of time.  Dyslexics can learn to read accurately but to achieve the same accuracy as their non-dyslexic classmates they take much more time (Shaywitz, 2003).  Along the same lines, according to Hehir (2005) it is not that learning disabled cannot learn concepts it is just that they may need more instructional time.  Costa Rica is on the right track and rather than pulling the student out of class to provide services that student is serviced after the school day is complete. By the end of the 1980’s “recargo” services were providing education for 10,000 students throughout the country (Stough, 2003).  Also, as a result of the Salamanca Agreement in 1994, Costa Rica began integrating students with cognitive disabilities (Stough, 2003).  They implemented service delivery models for integrating severely handicapped students that utilized special education teachers as consultants, teams of student stakeholders to decide on services provided for the student and community resource centers. The strategic use of specialists has helped more students with disabilities gain access to the curriculum through more knowledgeable teachers that are able to modify the curriculum appropriately for students with disabilities (Stough, 2003).

Latin America used a cost effective model to get more teachers trained in special education.  Instead of consultants like in Costa Rica, they utilized a trainer of trainers model.  Twenty-eight countries in Latin America banded together where 2 specialists per country were trained in special education.  These specialists trained an additional 30 in each country, until 3,000 special education teachers were trained (Peters, 2004).

     If a teacher is in a situation where they have a disabled student in their classroom and they also have a lack of resources it is absolutely necessary that they use peer to peer tutoring.  Peer-to-peer tutoring is an extremely economical method for developing countries to utilize when implementing inclusive education. A project in Zambia involved 16 primary schools where disabled students were paired with a non-disabled counterpart to support each other in school and the community (Peters, 2004).  Teachers have observed that tutors gain as much, if not more, than the peers they tutor (Baine, 1988).  Social benefits as well as academic benefits have also been shown in research on peer-to-peer tutoring (Baine, 1988). 


How to get assistance in the classroom:

Ask your school principal, headmaster or school manager to help you look for:

• male and female assistants

• assistants from families of children with disabilities, learning difficulties or behavioral problems who can share their knowledge of supporting these children

• anyone in the community who knows sign language. These assistants can interpret for the teacher/deaf learners and/or teach sign language to other learners so that they can buddy with deaf learners.

How assistants can help in the classroom:

helping children to go to the toilet

• helping learners with disabilities during break times, with their meals, while moving around the school, and during recreation time and sports activities

• supporting children who want to talk about issues that are troubling them, and liaising with appropriate people who can provide counselling, etc.

• encouraging children with disabilities to communicate and interact as much as possible with other children and adults (not just with the assistant) and to be as active as possible.


Peer-to-peer assistants/tutoring:

Can be started with a teacher or PTA member asking for one or two students to volunteer to work with a student who has a disability. For younger buddies, giving a few simple and clear suggestions for how they can help a fellow learner will be useful. For older learners, set up a meeting with the student with disabilities. Both should be asked to suggest ways in which they can work together.

• Buddies can help learners with disabilities, learning difficulties or behavioral problems to understand and remember the structure of the day, or to be where they need to be at the right time.

• All students can help each other with school work (especially when the class is very large and/or made up of diverse age groups).

• They can help each other with daily challenges.

• Buddies can relieve some of the pressure from the teacher, especially when there is a large class to manage.

• Buddy systems should encourage all children to talk, play and eat together.



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