A Reflection of Classroom Conversations and Discussions- Special Education and Exceptionalities
I feel that as educators we have a responsibility to every student that walks through our classroom door regardless of his or her special needs or exceptionalities. If we are able to see challenges as opportunities and set out to look at difficulties as goals, we can change the way “special” education is viewed and attained.
I hope to create a classroom, each year, of students that not only respect one another and are responsible for their individual actions but whom also feel a responsibility to the class as a sort of “family”. It is important to start each year strong by setting up guidelines and protocols that must be maintained in area of classroom etiquette. By introducing team building activities, early and often, and allowing the students to participate in creating the “rules” to adhere to in the classroom, the students will be more likely “buy into” the idea of respect and responsibility toward each other.
While discussing this issue in class I felt the overwhelming sense that mainstreaming students with special needs and exceptionalities is fundamentally a moral issue. Shouldn’t the idea of respecting all student individualities be a goal to set in every classroom? Don’t we have a moral responsibility to teach all children regardless of individual skill set or educational level? When Dr. Scheuerman stated, “[E]very child is a special education child”, I felt sense of power behind the words that moved me as a future educator. This awesome responsibility to all children echoed in my mind. No content or method is more important than teaching a child that he or she is worthy. Isn’t it necessary for us to celebrate the uniqueness and uphold the dignity of each and every student?
I wondered then, just as we say the pledge of allegiance to the flag every day shouldn’t we as teachers hold ourselves to a standard of pledging allegiance to our students? If doctors take a physician’s oath when entering into the profession of medicine, why is it that there is no sort of oath for teachers? Could an oath be a way of reminding educators of their privileges, responsibilities and duty to uphold the dignity of every student? What would this oath look like? It should be taken at the time of being admitted as a member of the teaching profession and repeated each year as a reminder. Maybe it would look something like this:
- I solemnly pledge myself to dedicate my life to the service of human dignity
- I will give to my fellow teachers, colleagues and those who come before me the respect and gratitude which is their due
- I will practice my profession with conscience and responsibility; the respect and individual education of my students will be my first consideration
- I will maintain by all the means in my power, the honor and the noble traditions of the teaching profession; my colleagues will be my brothers and sisters
- I will not permit considerations of religion, nationality, race, party politics, social standing, special needs or exceptionalities to intervene between my duty and my student
- I will maintain the utmost respect for educational well-being, individual talents, personal challenges, and responsible actions of each and every student
- I will hold myself and each student in my classroom to a high standard of respect and responsibility to personal actions and behaviors;
- I make these promises solemnly, freely and upon my honor.
I also think that this job does not fall solely on the shoulders of classroom teachers. Schools, districts, families, communities, states, and the nation should be held to a high standard when developing and implementing curriculum and funding for special needs and exception education. It is the whole that needs to be supportive of the individual just as it is the individual that needs to be responsible to the whole. As the legislation states there should be “No child Left Behind” and this encompasses all children no matter the ability.