How can we as teachers best meet the needs of students with mild disabilities? Dave Edyburn in his article Assistive Technology and Students With Mild Disabilities suggests areas to pursue which he states will improve opportunities for our students with mild disabilities. These are: “recognizing the contributions and limitations for enhancing performance, reconceptualizing the forms of assistive technology, redesigning assistive technology service delivery systems, and responding to the need to document the impact and effectiveness of assistive technology.” Each of these areas apply to system wide-efforts. System-wide change efforts often take so much time that by the time that proposed technology can be outdated or obsolete.
I think that the most effective way to best meet the needs of our students is at the classroom level. Collaboration time between the Special education staff and classroom teachers is a critical factor in continually evaluating and revising classroom practices to help our students. Getting to know, at a deep level, how each student learns best is extremely important.
There are several learning inventory tools which can be used to help both student and teacher learn how the student learns best. Considering Howard Gardner's Multiple Intelligences is also key to supporting students diverse learning styles. Practices suggested in Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol (SIOP) for ELL/Bilingual Learners such as :
Explicit, targeted vocabulary development
Slower speech with clear enunciation and fewer idiomatic expressions
Visuals, demonstrations and hands-on learning
can help all students in a classroom.
Developing clear, achievable learning goals and mapping the path to achieving those goals is crucial to building success for our students with mild disabilities. The list is of ways to create an environment which provides success for all is long. The classroom teacher, if provided with the appropriate resources and support, holds the key to that success.