Disabled students face difficulties in coping with their peers. Issues that face disabled students include learning disabilities, among others. Teachers need to help students to adjust to classroom settings. In addition, teachers should offer the necessary help to disabled students. It should be noted that students with disabilities require different learning activities to succeed. I carried out fieldwork in two schools. The two schools I visited were Needham high school and Newman elementary school. This paper will provide observation of the fieldwork.
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Needham school is located opposite Needham Memorial Park. The school is readily accessible to teachers and students due to its centrality in the town. Needham school has around 1400 students in high school. The school boasts of eight counselors who assist both students and parents in addressing various academic/personal issues. I was concerned with k-11 students since it was an inclusive class. The classroom set up for k-11 students was the traditional classroom, which allowed students to see their teacher as he wrote on the chalkboard. Furthermore, the classroom setup for k-2 at Newman elementary school was also a traditional classroom although this could be changed depending on class activities.
Students with disabilities observed
Both schools had inclusive classrooms in which special students could be assisted. The teachers were convivial to me. Moreover, I was pleased with the school environment. At Needham high school, I noticed one student called Joseph Phelps. Phelps was a k-11 student with a learning disability. Specifically, the student found it difficult to take notes because of listening problems. Phelps would listen selectively to information provided during normal class lessons. This affected his note-taking ability. At Newman elementary school, I noted a student called Megan Hunt in an inclusive k-2 classroom. Megan was 8 years old but physically disabled. Specifically, Megan suffered paralysis at the young age of five. Since then, Megan has been in a wheelchair. This affected Megan’s ability to move freely as before. However, Megan was joyful the day I visited; he gave me a big smile as I entered the classroom.
Content information taught and learning activities utilized in the classroom
Joseph’s class was to be taught mathematics when I entered the classroom while Megan’s class was to be taught science. Specifically, Joseph’s class was being taught statistics. The teacher began by asking questions, which engaged students on what they knew about statistics. Surprisingly, Joseph was one of the students who gave an idea of statistics in the class. In essence, the classroom environment made Joseph confident about himself despite his disability. The teacher also engaged students in discussions about the benefits of statistics in society. Other learning activities included demonstrations in which students were arranged to find the mode and median among them. Finally, students were given the opportunity to ask questions. Joseph asked questions too, to which the teacher replied. However, I could not help but notice how he struggled to catch up with the rest especially in note-taking.
At Megan’s school, the class environment was quite conducive for studying science. The teacher came with charts showing the sun and the moon. Additionally, the teacher brought with her a chart of the world. Pupils were joyful when they saw the drawings, which were colored and attractive to the eye. The teacher was surprisingly playful with the pupils. I learned that this was her strategy to help them in knowledge acquisition. Megan was joyful throughout the lesson although she was really caged by the wheelchair. The teacher also engaged them through questions. The pupils repeatedly pointed at the charts to differentiate between the sun moon and the world.
How students with disabilities compared with their peers in classroom activities
Both Megan and Joseph did well as compared with their peers in class. However, I could not help but notice how Joseph struggled to catch up with his peers in class. On the other hand, Megan had struggles with movement. In fact, while other students walked to the chalkboard to point at the chart, Megan had to be pushed. At times the teacher had to squat to help him with drawings.
Academic and behavioral problems observed in students with disabilities
As stated above, Joseph had a learning disability and this could be observed throughout the lesson as he tried very much to catch up with his peers. The teacher had to guide him time after time to ensure that he was focused throughout the lesson. On the other hand, Megan had no problem in academics except for movement, which hindered his enthusiasm to move with the class. However, in terms of behavior, both regular and disabled students were disciplined throughout the lesson. This was because teachers commitment fully to students through discussions and demonstrations.
Instructional and classroom management strategies utilized to minimize academic and behavioral problems
Joseph’s teacher engaged him throughout the lesson through questions and discussions, which helped to maintain his focus. Additionally, the teacher helped him in taking notes, which improved his arrangement of notes. On the other hand, Megan’s teacher was a handful in improving Megan’s participation in class by aiding the student with materials for lessons. The teacher was also helpful in pushing Megan’s wheelchair from one part of the classroom to another to aid him in participating fully like other students.
Similarities and differences in learning characteristics of disabled students and their peers
In Joseph’s class, I could notice that majority of students could answer questions from the teacher. Additionally, all students showed focus albeit Joseph did it with lots of struggles. Additionally, all students engaged their teacher throughout the lesson. The students participated actively in the discussion as well as demonstrations, including Joseph. However, Joseph took notes selectively as opposed to his peers. In fact, the teacher had to assist him regularly to ensure that his notes were at par with the rest of the class. Moreover, sometimes the teacher had to take more time in explaining as well as dictating notes in order to keep up with Joseph. In Megan’s class, he was able to cope with the other students in following the lesson. Additionally, he was also able to point at the correct drawings on the chart as his peers. Nonetheless, his movement was greatly hindered as opposed to the other students. In fact, he could not write or draw as fast as the other students did.
How learning activities influence students in classroom settings
Learning activities such as asking questions was instrumental in engaging Joseph and his peers to keep their focus on the topic of the lesson. Asking questions also assisted Joseph to show what he had learned in previous lessons. Moreover, this type of learning activity also helped to strengthen Joseph’s confidence and mastery of the concepts in statistics. Discussing was also essential in enabling Joseph to interact with his peers on essential aspects of statistics. Discussing also enabled Joseph to think independently which helped improve his critical thinking ability. Demonstrating ways of finding mode and median was also essential in improving knowledge acquisition. Joseph was thrilled with the activity. Megan’s teacher used a variety of learning activities, firstly he was playful with them and this enabled the pupils to be absorbed in what she taught. Additionally, teaching through singing was also essential in helping Megan’s mastery of the sun, moon, and world. Demonstrating the shapes using a chart was also essential in helping the pupils to understand her better. Helping pupils to draw the figures was necessary to aid in skill acquisition. Enabling pupils to point at the chart one after another also helped them to function independently in classroom settings.
Variable factors influencing the teaching/learning process
The centrality and accessibility of the school were helpful since students could arrive early from their homes. The school environment was conducive for learning in that teachers, workers and administrators were cooperative. In fact, both schools had a strong organizational culture, which only worked to promote learning. Students in both schools were disciplined, clean, and warm. Interference from the neighboring environment was greatly minimized. In fact, even the hooting of cars was reduced near the school. The community was also helpful in aiding a good learning environment through the minimization of noise and interference. Teachers were creative and prepared for the lessons. Additionally, teachers in both schools helped to boost students’ self-esteem.
Strategies to be utilized in addressing issues observed
As an educator, some of the strategies I would utilize in handling students/pupils with disabilities include focusing my attention on the entire class. Moreover, special attention would be given to students/pupils with disabilities. I would also ensure that the classroom is safe and comfortable. I will also engage in low profile intervention of disruptions. I will also work to give students non-verbal cues. I will also be instrumental in teaching students to manage their own behaviors. Moreover, I would review procedures and rules periodically to ensure students/pupils adhere to them. I will also give disabled students opportunities to change their behaviors by engaging them in suitable channels such as games, among others. Furthermore, I would develop and apply supportive and caring relationships with disabled students to earn their confidence. Moreover, I would organize as well as implement instructions to maximize student access and engagement in learning activities. Additionally, I would work to improve students/pupils’ ability to regulate themselves as well as improve their social skills.
Action/preparation to address issues observed
In preparing for students, I need to know their social skills and learning characteristics to help in promoting their capacity to learn. Additionally, I need to learn about their behaviors in order to comprehend how to go about it. In a classroom setting, I need to be conversant with the various types of disabilities in students. Moreover, I need to have the capability of deciding whether one kind of disability can be allowed in the general classroom or not. I also need to be already to understand students with disabilities at their points of need. These may include helping in situations that are not academic, for instance, pushing the wheelchair, providing caregiving (to the extent allowed or practicable). Preparing lessons and ensuring the organization of classroom setting.
The experience was satisfactory. I was warmly welcomed in both schools. I was encouraged by the learning activities I saw. In addition, the kindness shown by students and pupils alike really encouraged me. In particular, the extent to which the teachers were willing to go in helping their students/pupils was quite amazing. This stood out to be remarkable; teachers went out of their way to improve students’ ability to learn. For instance, Megan’s teacher kept pushing his wheelchair whenever he needed assistance. On the other hand, Joseph’s teacher kept assisting him in making notes and arranging his work even as he focused on other students too. The effort put in by teachers was remarkable.
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Significance of the experience
The experience was beneficial to me in many ways. Firstly, I was able to feel the warmth of the pupils/students. This encouraged me to engage more with students in learning activities. Additionally, I had an on-job experience in those classrooms. This experience aided me in getting conversant with a real classroom setting. Additionally, I learned that teachers should go out of their way to help students with disabilities. In essence, the experience was beneficial to me in promoting my commitment to students.
My fieldwork was eventful as well as exciting. I was warmly welcomed in both schools. This experience was remarkable. Students/pupils were joyful and it was difficult to distinguish between the disabled and ordinary students. The amount of efforts teachers put to help students was also amazing; this was observed mainly in disabled students. My experience in the two schools was fantastic.