All educators are aware that students with disabilities need targeted scaffolds and support in order to be successful in school, but often educators are not fully equipped with the strategies and resources necessary to support students with disabilities to be successful. This challenge is becoming increasingly important as the number of students receiving Special Education services in the United States under the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA) continues to increase each year (source: National Center for Education Statistics). A student-centered approach to this challenge, rooted in The Universal Design for Learning Guidelines, is one in which teachers across subject areas set up their learning environment, instructional tasks, and content using a tiered approach to support their students with disabilities to learn; can provide multiple ways for students to demonstrate and acquire information while acknowledging their previous experiences or background knowledge; and can engage students in the learning by understanding their interests and affording students choice as they persevere through challenging tasks.
What We Believe:
We believe that great student-centered teaching is great special education teaching. While all students benefit from a student-centered approach, students who receive special education services can especially benefit from the individualized and personalized instruction that a student-centered educator provides.
We believe that all teachers are responsible for the success of students with disabilities. 66% of students with learning disabilities spend 80% or more of their school day in general education classrooms. As a result, it is necessary for all teachers to understand and feel comfortable implementing best practices for students with disabilities.
We believe that all teachers must build purposeful accommodations into their instruction, including tiered approaches to instruction, to ensure that their curriculum is accessible to students with disabilities.
We believe that school staff must work collaboratively with a wide range of people - other teachers, school staff, related service providers, and families - to support students with disabilities to be successful both academically and behaviorally.
BL Blog Posts
McLeod-Bluver, Caitlin. Distance Learning: Supporting Students with Disabilities. May 5, 2020.
Rice, Lindsay. You Taught It, They Didn't Get It, Now What: 5 Strategies to Use when Re-Teaching. January 29, 2019.
Roehm, Leigh Ann. Building Meaningful Relationships is at the Heart of Teaching Students with Disabilities. October 25, 2018.
Seisfeld, Emma. Distance Learning: How One Teacher Engaged K-2 Students with Disabilities. July 14, 2020.
Mader, Jackie. How Teacher Training Hinders Special Needs Students. The Atlantic. March 1, 2017.
Butrymowicz, Sarah and Mader, Jackie. Low academic expectations and poor support for special education students are ‘hurting their future’. Hechinger Report. November 11, 2017.
The Principles of UDL. Kurzweil Education.