You survey your class roster during preservice and notice symbols next to the names of particular children. Your class list looks like an indecipherable code waiting to be broken. Maybe you learned some code-breaking techniques during teacher preparation; maybe you have a natural affinity as a cipher; maybe you only learned enough to know there is meaning in the code but not the meaning itself. Either way, you are responsible for ensuring a meaningful education for all of the students in your charge, whether or not they have a symbol next to their name.
At the intersection of No Child Left Behind and Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEIA 2004) lies the instructional responsibility of the general education teacher to provide meaningful access to the general curriculum for students with disabilities in their classrooms (McNulty & Gloeckler, 2011). For more than a decade, the implementation of higher state standards for both teacher preparation and curriculum for preK–12 students has defined for us all the responsibility we hold for all children. Students with disabilities are expected to (1) be educated as much as possible alongside their peers without disabilities and (2) access the general education curriculum with appropriate supports (IDEIA, 2004). Because the most common placement for students with mild, high-incidence disabilities is the general education classroom, the teachers in this inclusive setting need to be prepared to be responsible for providing that access to the general curriculum.
During teacher preparation you may have taken an introduction to special education, inclusive education, or response to intervention (RtI) course that outlined the characteristics and needs of students with disabilities and ways in which you might differentiate your planning, instruction, and assessment for these students. You may have even been required to take and pass a certification exam in the area of special education in order to obtain a dual teaching license. You may have had neither of these experiences if you took an alternative route to teacher certification. Whatever preparation you have, you still may feel ill-equipped to ensure that you meet the needs of students with individualized education plan (IEPs) in your classroom (Samuels, 2013). This book outlines five things teachers who have success with IEPs do differently and practical insights, tips, and strategies for how you can achieve this same success with your IEPs.
Confidence is built on the foundation of competence. If you are uncertain of your ability to meet the needs of students on IEPs, this book is a great place to start. Once your competence increases, your confidence will increase. The principles and strategies in this book offer you a chance to fine-tune your practice as well as clarify some of the foggy ideas you may have about ensuring success for students with disabilities in your charge. Let's get started!