Teacher Training In Using Effective Strategies For Preschool Children With Disabilities In Inclusive Classrooms
Journal of College Teaching & Learning (TLC)
Research has shown that inclusion benefits children with disabilities and typical developing peers. Children with disabilities enrolled in inclusive settings were found to achieve better developmental outcomes than children with similar abilities enrolled in traditional special education settings (Hundert, Mahoney, Mundy, & Vernon, 1998), higher scores in language development, social, and academic skills (Downing & Peckham-Harding, 2007; Rafferty, Piscitelli, Boettcher, 2003), improved
... , improved behavioral outcomes (Lee & Odom, 1996), development of friendships and social networks (Fryxell & Kennedy, 1995; Hall & McGregor, 2000), and happiness behaviors (Ryndak, Morrison, & Sommerstein, 1999). Studies also suggested that inclusion benefits typically developing children (Bentley, 2007; Cross, Traub, Hutter-Pishgahi, and Shelton, 2004; Guralnick, 1990; Mclean & Hanline, 1990; Peck, Staub, Gallucci, & Schwartz, 2004). The most commonly mentioned advantages include character development of typically developing children into more accepting, tolerant, and sympathetic individuals. While assisting their peers with disabilities, they also pick up additional skills such as sign language or assistive technology (Downing & Peckham-Harding, 2007). Moreover, Bentley (2007) observed through interviews with typical peers, that they find a teacher and role model in their friend with disabilities. As our field continues to make significant progresses in legislation (e.g., Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act, 2004, 2007) as well as evidence-based practices to serve diverse learners, inclusion for children with disabilities remains a challenge in the classroom practices. Many classroom teachers felt inadequate in teaching children with disabilities (Leyser & Kirk, 2004). However, once teachers experienced successful inclusion with children with disabilities, they became stronger advocate themselves in supporting the merit and practices of inclusion (Cross et al., 2004). The key to making inclusion successful is the availability of effective inclusion strategies and teacher training. More successful inclusion stories and experiences will then attract more teachers to include children with moderate to severe disabilities in their classrooms. There is a need to bridge the gap between research and practice by investigating the extent to which practitioners view strategies supported by research as useful and relevant in their classroom practice. In this survey study, 26 early childhood/early childhood special education practitioners shared their views on a list of peer-mediated strategies in serving children with disabilities in the general education classrooms. By investigating educators views on these naturalistic peer-mediated strategies derived from several research projects (Schepis, Reid, Ownbey, & Clary, 2003; Thompson et al., 1993; Yang, 2000), this study was designed to obtain practitioners input on the practicality and observed usage of strategies in the classroom practices. Research-based strategies supported by educators feedback will also be shared in this paper.