As Special Education teachers, we’ve all heard the phrase “I don’t know how you do it” or “I could never do your job” especially when it comes to self-contained classrooms more times than we would like I’m sure.
I know I’ve heard it and just brushed it off my shoulder, but that got me thinking. How can we better teach our General Education teachers about what we do in a self-contained classroom?
Here are some ideas that I have gathered.
Ideas for Teaching Peers About Your Self-Contained Classroom
– Please ignore the behaviors you see in the hallway unless asking for assistance: is that child supposed to be running down the hall? No, but we are just thankful they are going back to class after laying on the floor for the last 15 minutes.
-Don’t be afraid to pop in to say hi: our students love getting to know the other people in the school. Once they know who you are, they are more likely to say hi to you in passing and feel comfortable with you being around.
-Our quiet is different from your quiet: so when you are recognizing classes for doing their job and staying “quiet” when it’s needed, please remember to consider what that looks like for a class of children who sometimes can’t help but make self-soothing noises.
-Elopement: here are some pointers that you could give your Gen. Ed. peers to help. If you have a walkie-talkie, it helps us if you could also keep it on in case we have an eloper and need help. If you see a student eloping, please avoid chasing them especially if they are looking at you and laughing, they want you to chase them. If you have met that child before and they recognize you, it’s ok to try and stop them or get their attention
-Self-contained classes are not a dumping ground for Gen. Ed. students who “don’t fit the mold” – please don’t assume that just because your child is behind, has a behavior, or even a diagnosis, that means they need to be in our class.
-If a Gen. Ed. class is doing a cool hands-on activity, having a celebration/party, or even going on a field trip, please ask us if we would like to be included.
-We would love to be able to have a “buddy” time where some of the Gen. Ed. kids come and do some reading, puzzles, games, coloring – really any social activity – with our students.
-Communication is key: our students want to try and communicate with you and your Gen. Ed. classes. If you notice they are having a hard time, it is ok to ask how they communicate best, we would love to teach you and show you.
-Always use Confidentiality: if you find yourself needing to talk about one of our students with someone else, well we would appreciate it if you didn’t, but if you absolutely need to, please remember confidentiality and privacy.
-Teach your students how to interact with and respect our students the way we do to you
If you’re given the opportunity to present this information to your staff as a whole, now is also a good time to come up with some mission statements by asking, what do we want for our students, what do we want for our team, and what do we want for our school.
This makes everyone feel included, and like it’s okay to ask questions and want to be involved in the success of your students.
It’s okay to not know, but it’s not okay to not ask, learn, and try rather than assuming.
Do you have anything that you do with your staff that I may not have mentioned? Let us know in the comments!