Standard 13: Preparation to Teach Special Populations

(Students with Special Needs) in the General Education Classroom

The Multiple Subject credential program at Fresno State assists each candidate in developing the basic knowledge, skills, and strategies for teaching special populations including students with disabilities, students on behavior plans, at-risk students, and gifted and talented students in the general education classroom.  Candidates learn and experience the role of the general education teacher in the special education process through courses and concurrent field experiences.  Through professional coursework, practice, and implementation they learn skills in the use of differentiated instructional strategies that ensure that all students have access to the core curriculum.

Each candidate understands the importance of and demonstrates the ability to create a positive, inclusive climate of instruction for all students in SPED 179: Differentiated Instruction and Classroom Management, taken concurrently with EHD 170:  Final Student Teaching.  Teacher candidates are required to work directly with students who are receiving special education services, providing whole class, small group and individual instruction across the curriculum.

Teacher candidates also observe and implement academic, classroom management, and social skills building strategies. Particular attention is paid to the modifications and accommodations being utilized by the classroom teacher.  Participation in planning meetings and/or professional learning communities to collaborate on the development of lessons is required and completed through assignments and in conjunction with their EHD 170 placement.  They also analyze the inclusion process as well as the use of technology in the classroom setting.  Typically, they are involved in criterion-referenced assessments, as well as assessing the match between teacher strategies and individual student preferred learning modalities from a multiple intelligences perspective.  Following their classroom experience, teacher candidates are required to submit a reflective paper describing their experiences, what they have learned, and how it will affect their future practice.

Early Childhood Education Program candidates focus on the instruction of children with special needs in SPED120.  While providing a K-6 view, the ECE section includes a focus on children from birth through grade three.  ECE candidates are able to identify the needs of students, methods of curricular and environment adaptation, and collaborative strategies to maximize children with special needs access to the core curriculum and least restrictive environment. Taken concurrently with final student teaching, candidates are expected to apply theory to practice in their field placement. [See SPED120ECE syllabus.]

Through planned prerequisites and/or professional preparation, the teacher preparation program ensures the following:

Candidates demonstrate a basic level of knowledge and skills in:  a) assessing the learning and language abilities of students in order to identify those needing referral for assessment, identification of disabilities and eligibility for special education, Section 504 services, or gifted and talented education programs; b) providing appropriate differentiated instruction that ensures  all students access to the core curriculum; c) selecting and using appropriate instructional materials and technologies, including assistive technologies, to meet the needs of students with special needs  in the general education classroom;  and d)  identifying  when and how to address social integration needs of students with disabilities  who are included in the general education classroom.

Candidates begin their work in assessment and identification of student knowledge and skills in CI 171: Understanding the Learner, Instructional Design and Assessment.  In CI 172: Cultural and Language Contexts in the Classroom, student assessment is further explored specifically as it relates to learning and language.  Candidates have an additional exposure to this information in LEE 173: Teaching Reading and Social Studies in Grades 4-8, and LEE 177: Teaching Reading and the Arts in Grades K-3, as the range of scores normal for particular age groups are discussed in order to help candidates know when referrals are appropriate and additional testing that would be required before a referral for special programs would be made.   In CI 175:  Science Instruction and Applied Technology candidates are introduced to assistive technologies for individuals with special needs.

Candidates enrolled in SPED 179: Differentiated Instruction and Classroom Management are required to demonstrate a basic understanding of the assessment of language and learning abilities of special population students in order to identify students for referral to special education program, gifted and talented education programs, and other required services (504). They are also involved in a series of readings and discussions related to formal and informal assessments and their use in identifying areas to be considered in the IEP.  This is done through class demonstrations, readings, discussions, and assignments in both SPED 179 and EHD 170. [See SPED 179 and EHD 170 syllabi.]

Candidates enrolled in SPED 179: Differentiated Instruction and Classroom Management are introduced to a variety of instructional materials and technologies, including assistive technologies available to students with disabilities.  Candidates are introduced to a variety of differentiated teaching strategies to meet the needs of special populations as well as ways in which teaching materials and strategies can be modified to meet the needs of students with special needs in the general education classroom.  Candidates work in groups to explore these topics and report to the class on their findings and through the Differentiated Instruction assignment and final.  Candidates are also required to observe various settings and meetings for the disabled where they will have an opportunity to see assistive devices in use.  [See SPED 179 syllabus.]

Candidates enrolled in SPED 179: Differentiated Instruction and Classroom Management explore the adaptation of teaching materials for special needs students, differentiated instruction, and the responsibilities of the general education teacher to provide these supports. In all the other content-specific courses in the Multiple Subject sequence, this responsibility is also covered and, in some cases, re-taught with specific regard to the content area. All candidates are required to plan for all students in their lesson designs and include adaptations for students with special needs in all of their lesson plans. [See SPED 179 syllabus.]

Candidates are expected to make these differentiations when teaching lessons in the field experiences ( EHD 170: Field Study C).

Candidates develop the basic knowledge, skills, strategies, and strengths-based approach for teaching the full range of students in the general education classroom, including all categories of special populations such as students with disabilities, students on behavior plans, and gifted and talented students.

Candidates for the Multiple Subject Credential at Fresno State are required to take SPED 179: Differentiated Instruction and Classroom Management as part of their required teacher preparation program. Candidates entering as Liberal Studies majors will have taken either SPED 120: Teaching Students with Special Needs in the General Education Classroom;  PSYCH 169: Psychological Aspects of Physical Disability; or RA 125:  Diversity and Inclusive Practices in Recreation.  SPED 120 may be taken concurrently with EHD 50: Introduction to Education, so that candidates have an opportunity to interact with teachers and students in special education at their field placements.

One of the objectives of SPED 179: Differentiated Instruction and Classroom Management is to acquaint and to develop basic skills and strategies for all students in their classroom. Candidates are taught to plan their lessons for all students from the start and from a strength-based approach. Particular attention will be paid to students with the categories of disabilities as they are defined in California, students with behavior plans, students at-risk, and students who are identified as gifted and talented so they become aware of and practice their responsibilities as general education teachers in the pre-interventions and identification of students in their classes who may qualify for special education services as well as the adaptations they will need to make to ensure the students’ successful participation in their classes.  The instructors of SPED 179: Differentiated Instruction and Classroom Management have a number of guest speakers, including those with disabilities and parents and teachers of students with disabilities, who help to orient the new candidates to their responsibilities as classroom teachers.  Quizzes, the final, the Classroom Management Report and the Differentiated Instruction assignment all require demonstration of this knowledge and practice.  [See SPED 179 syllabi.]

Candidates enrolled in SPED 179: Differentiated Instruction and Classroom Management explore the adaptation of teaching materials for special needs students, differentiated instruction, and the responsibilities of the general education teacher to provide these supports. In all the other content-specific courses in the Multiple Subject sequence, this responsibility is also covered and, in some cases, re-taught with specific regard to the content area. All candidates are required to include adaptations for students with special needs in all of their lesson plans to ensure access to the core curriculum. Candidates are expected to make these differentiations when teaching lessons in the field experiences. [See EHD 170 syllabi.]

In the Multiple Subject Credential Early Childhood Education Program (ECE) candidates enroll in SPED 120: Teaching Students with Special Needs in Mainstream Settings, concurrently with final student teaching (EHD170ECE:  Field Work C-ECE).  Through reading, videos, discussions, and guest speakers, including those with disabilities and parents and teachers of students with disabilities, candidates become familiar with the categories of disabilities as they are defined in California and aware of their responsibilities as general education teachers in the identification of students in their classes who may qualify for special education services as well as the adaptations they will need to make to ensure the students’ successful participation in their classes. 

Candidates enrolled in the Multiple Subject Credential Early Childhood Education Program’s (ECE) LEE 148, Integrated Curriculum class teach a ten lesson unit where they are required to document differentiated instruction for special needs and gifted and talented groups, as well as analyze the learning of students with special need or students who are gifted or talented relative to the rest of the class and to reflect on their own skills as teachers in meeting the instructional needs of this special population.  This task is again required of all candidates in final student teaching as part of a summative assessment, the Teaching Sample Project.  As noted above, the responsibility to differentiate instruction to allow access for all students is covered in each methods class and provides a focus for SPED 120, Teaching Children with Special Needs in Mainstream Settings.

Candidates learn about the role of the general education teacher in identifying and teaching students with special needs, as well as relevant state and federal laws pertaining to the education of exceptional populations and the general education teacher’s role and responsibilities in developing and implementing tiered interventions.

Candidates in SPED 179: Differentiated Instruction and Classroom Management explore the current legislation pertaining to exceptional students and their families, as well as ethical standards related to professional practices in the field. They are required to demonstrate knowledge of the general education teacher’s, and special education teacher’s role and responsibilities in the Individual Education Program (IEP) process, including: intervention; collaboration; identification; referral; assessment; IEP planning and meeting; implementation; and evaluation, through class discussions and assessment.  Specific lessons regarding RtI and tiered interventions are shared and students practice these both in their EHD 170 placement and SPED 179 on the final. [See SPED 179 syllabus.]  This knowledge is gained through course activities, video presentations, guest speakers in class, and a field assignment in which the candidates are required to interview parents and teachers at their field site and report their findings in a written report and to attend an SST or IEP meeting. Candidates are also acquainted with current law and responsibilities in CI 171: Understanding the Learner, Instructional Design and Assessment, as school law and ethics are discussed. Candidates also conduct a school site demographics study in CI 171 and for the Teaching Sample Project in Phase 3. [See FAST Manual.] 

In the Multiple Subject Credential Early Childhood Education Program (ECE), the major psychological, cognitive and motivational principles, theories, and research strategies related to child and adolescent development, both typical and atypical, and assessment are introduced in CI 171ECE, Psychological Context of Teaching and Learning.  Laws and professional responsibilities pertaining to students with disabilities are concurrently introduced in CI172ECE, Cultural Context of Teaching and Learning.  In SPED120, Teaching Children with Special Needs in Mainstream Settings, ECE candidates are required to demonstrate knowledge of the general education teacher’s, and special education teacher’s role and responsibilities in the Individual Education Program (IEP) process, including: identification; referral; assessment; IEP planning and meeting; implementation; and evaluation.

Candidates demonstrate skills in creating a positive, inclusive climate of instruction for all students with special needs in the general classroom and demonstrates skill in collaborative planning and instruction with education specialists and other school professionals.

Candidates explore social integration in several of the credential classes.  In CI 171: Understanding the Learner, Instructional Design and Assessment, strategies for implementing cooperative learning in the classroom help candidates to understand the importance of teaching social interaction skills in the classroom, as well as methods for bestowing status on students not held in high esteem. [See CI 171 syllabus.]

Classroom management modules that are commonly taught through video with follow-up discussion are rich with examples of special education students in the general education classroom and ways in which teachers can create a supportive classroom community for all students.  Candidates have many opportunities through the program to learn to interact positively with students with special needs as they progress through the sequence of field experiences ( EHD 174: Field Study A: Grades 4-8, EHD 178: Field Study B: Grades K-3, and EHD 170: Field Study C).  Teacher candidates create and teach lesson plans that include provisions for students with special needs. (See Multiple Subject Field Work Handbook:  Lesson Plan Format.)

Adaptations to support special needs students in the classroom are discussed and demonstrated in all the content-specific courses ( CI 171: Understanding the Learner, Instructional Design and Assessment; CI 175: Science Instruction and Applied Technology; CI 176: Mathematics Instruction and Applied Assessment; LEE 173: Teaching Reading and Social Studies in Grades 4-8; and LEE 177: Teaching Reading and the Arts in K-3), and laws and ethics related to special needs students in the classroom are explored in LEE 172: Cultural and Language Contexts of the Classroom, and studied in depth in SPED 179: Differentiated Instruction and Classroom Management. Each candidate learns and practices their role in collaboratively creating an inclusive climate of instruction for all students in their classrooms.  They demonstrate these skills through their Classroom Management Assignment and through observation in EHD 170.  [See SPED 179 syllabus: Classroom Management Assignment.]

Candidates enrolled in parallel coursework in the Multiple Subject Credential Early Childhood Education Program (ECE) are provided the same opportunities to develop inclusive strategies and dispositions.  In addition, inclusive classroom strategies are explored in CI 150ECE, Managing Early Learning Environments and most certainly in SPED120, Teaching Children with Special Needs in Mainstream Settings.  Fieldwork in all phases includes mainstream settings where ECE candidates see models of inclusion and have opportunities to practice learned techniques.  In EHD 178ECE, Field Work B-ECE candidates teach a unit of study in a preschool setting that includes children with special needs.  [See LEE 148 syllabus.]  In finding out about the students in the class prior to designing the unit, candidates must identify children with special needs and plan accommodations relative to their unit of study.

Intern Program Delivery Model:

In preservice, teacher preparation programs provide candidates with a knowledge of and ability to teach Special Populations (Students with Special Needs) in the general education classroom.

Interns develop strategies and techniques for inclusive settings for Special Needs students through SPED 179 and field placements in EHD 174 and EHD 178.

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