Education Setting and Special Education Accommodation Essay

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Description of the Classroom

The observation took place in an eighth grade level social studies classroom consisting of twenty-one students from diverse backgrounds. The teacher is Latina. Not wanting to make any assumptions about ethnicity or culture, I asked the teacher about the demographics. The teacher stated that of the 20, 8 were female and 12 male. Three students were African-American, two were Vietnamese-American, two Indo-American, five students were Hispanic, two were Jewish, three were from mixed backgrounds, and four were white. Two of the students had IEPs, one of them was an African American boy and the other a white student. Each of the students with IEPs had specific learning and developmental disabilities. One of the Vietnamese-American students had been recently diagnosed with audio processing disorder, and accommodations were being made to move the student to the front of the classroom. The IEPs provided for specific accommodations and modifications to the content and instructional methods being used in the classroom.

Range of Disability Supports

There are two students in the classroom with IEPs, and one that also requires accommodations. However, each student has different needs. The teacher meets once per week with the counselor working with each of the students with learning disabilities. The meetings are designed to offer the teacher additional supports and guidance, while also allowing the students to report on their own progress. During the classroom instruction, the teacher makes accommodations in several ways. One of the students has dyslexia, and receives an audio recording of the class material. The teacher still asks her to write responses to questions, but does not use the same grading criteria as for the rest of the class. The other student becomes easily distracted and causes some disruptions. When asked about disability supports for that student, the teacher said that no instructions or guidance had been given to her, and that for the past three weeks has received assistance from an additional special education instructor in the class that offers one-on-one support as well as some assistive technology. Last week, a different special education assistant visited and sat with the student who has audio processing disorder. The student with audio processing disorder has since been moved to a place close to the teacher, and she receives additional take-home material she can review on her own outside class.


The special education teacher only worked with the one student during my observation. There was very little collaboration between the two teachers during the class itself. Only on one occasion, the special education teacher had to ask for some input from the teacher about modifying the lesson. However, the teacher said that every week they meet to discuss that student’s progress, and that once a month they meet with the parent. Although this is not a cooperative teaching environment, the school administrators do make sure that the students’ needs are being met through active collaboration between the two teachers after class.

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The teacher also told me that the special education instructor also works with the student with dyslexia, but that the main modifications to the lessons are reducing the verbal content burden that child experiences both with regards to deliverables and also to instructional design.

Culturally Responsive Classroom Management (CRCM)

Physical Setting: The seats were arranged in rows, but there was a collaborative learning assignment during class that allowed the students to work together in clusters. On the walls were inspirational sayings, some of which were posters but others were drawn by the students. The teacher has a large projection screen for displaying the slides and uses ample visual aids.

Behavior Expectations: The head teacher pointed out to me the list she made and posted clearly behind her desk. This list was of all the main ethics of comportment in the classroom. The first thing on the list was “do no harm.” Others included “respect others,” and “learn from someone who disagrees with you today.” One of the items on the list was, “It is OK to be shy.” The teacher said that she clearly outlines her expectations, and relies a lot on the students to create a strong normative environment.

Communicate in Culturally Consistent Ways: The teacher was adept at using culturally consistent communication, and altered her manner of speaking with different students. She used some Spanglish with the two Hispanic students. She aimed for a collaborative learning environment that stresses cultural values of social harmony rather than diverting to the dominant white American discourse of pure individualism and competition in the learning environment. The teacher recognized that cultural and individual differences might preclude some students from making eye contact or speaking up, whereas others were more outspoken. She said that one of the biggest challenges for the diverse classroom was not allowing the more extraverted kids to dominate the classroom, without pressuring the quiet kids to “be someone they are not.” To resolve this issue, the teacher used a variety of exercises including having the students work in pairs and groups of three. The small groups allow the shy students to participate more and have a “voice” in their learning. Also, the teacher sometimes briefly worked one on one with shy students to help them feel that they were being included in the discussion.

Caring Environment: The teacher is tri-lingual, and knows how to count to ten in a dozen languages. As such,….....

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