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self-contained classrooms

self-contained classrooms

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Due to the terrible financial problems in Alabama, a lot of our students with more profound disabilities will be placed in classrooms with 30-35 students. I can't see this as an advantage. Please comments and advise me on positive solutions for our students.

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diane linder's picture

I am a teacher with 18 years of experience and a parent of a child on the spectrum. He was in a self-contained kindergarten for half a year when we relocated to place him in inlcusion. His progress has been miraculous. I wanted him to have appropriate social models, and friends. He has that and so much more. Despite scores placing him in the MR range, he is able to do second grade work with limited modifications. He reads at grade level and can write an essay with ease. Yes, it takes work, communication, a continual balancing act between accepting him and pushing him to his potential, but it has been well worth it. Just last night after playing outside for 3 hours, he lay beside an older boy from his school, and their laughter together made me cry. That is all I really wanted for him, and by choosing inclusion we got so much more. I have written a book about the journey, see for more info.

diane linder's picture

I am a parent of a child on the spectrum. I am also a teacher with 18 years of experience. After a 1/2 year of kindergarten in a self contained setting, I was told my son needed a special school, not only a special class. I relocated to an inclusive district and his progress has been miraculous. He is finishing second grade, at grade level in most areas, and he has friends. I keep analyzing, looking for the variables, trying to find some equation to connect with, but I can't. I came to offer him positive peer role models, and found that so much more was possible. Just last evening my son played outside for 2 hours and then collapsed on the grass with an older boy from school. They were laughing so hard they could barely stand up. That is what I wanted for him, and by choosing inclusion we got so much more. I have written a book about it and you can get info at my website

Sherill Morris's picture

This is so sad because these students will probably be pretty much left in a corner to do "whatever". I agree that you need to get the parents involved because they can make more noise than the teacher can. Is there any way you can pull the students out for their lessons as per their IEPs? With all the Federal monies that I'm sure Alabama gets, why can't they cut budgets elsewhere? I am so sorry that this is happening because students (with even the severest of disabilities) can and do learn.

Boudreaux's picture

Sorry to poach the thread but there seems to be a lot of experience with self-contained classrooms here.
I have an interview tomorrow for a K-6 self contained teaching position and I would like some advice on how to up my chances. I have lots of secondary classroom experience but I just got my SPED cert so I'm a newby to the nuts and bolts of SPED.
What should I look for, what questions should I ask etc.?

Dave's picture
Special Education Resource Teacher (9-12)


They're probably going to ask a lot about differentiation. Give clear, concrete examples of how you have differentiated your instruction for students on different levels and particularly those with disabilities.

Show at least partial familiarity with the law regarding FAPE, LRE and RTI. Depending on how well your school district has implemented RTI, it will probably be a big question in the interview.

Mrs. W's picture
Mrs. W
5-8 Language Arts and History Teacher

That is way to many students with profound disabilities to have in one class. In our school the first year I worked in profound we had 19 students. I don't know how we did it, because it seemed like the only thing we did during the school day was change diapers and feed. After 2 years of large numbers they hired another teacher and we only had 12 in the class. That helped tremendously. Students with special severe special needs need individual attention that cannot be met if there are that many students in a class, unless there was lots of para help, but if they are cutting teachers then they probably are not going to hire enough paras. In our school it helped when parents got together to show their conserns, some teachers went to the union rep and that did get some extra help. It is not fair to the students that they are just squeezing them into classroom, you should be proactive and take a stand against it and encourage others to voice their concerns.

Regarding self-contained special education, that is where most of my experience is. The big thing is differentiation and how to teach the different levels and meet the needs of the students. If it is severe disabilities they will probably see how familiar you are with severe disabilities and methods to teach them such as using adaptive tech.

Jones's picture

I currently teach a sc class for elementary students. Before I was hired (2 years ago) there was no sc class at my school. Two students were mainstreamed that should not have been. Both ended up acting out very violently so the school district shipped them off to a neighboring school that had a sc class. Once they were in the proper setting for their needs their behaviors diminished or completely disappeared. I can't imagine a school deciding to completely remove sc when there are student who need it.

Dee's picture
Secondary Education Specialist

If it is the case where all students are truly students with special needs, then the Federal FAPEs law is not being upheld. There is no way on God's green earth that one or even two teachers could handle that many students who all need specialized instruction. Are you a union district?
I am at the Secondary level, and we have classes with 35 - 37 students, but it is diverse where only 1/3 can be special needs students and the remainder are general ed., and then we have a paraprofessional in the class as well for support. The paras are most likely going the way of the dinosaur next year with our budget chaos.
(in my humble opinion, the less lawyers involved the better).

peggy C's picture
peggy C
Special Ed. teacher with most invovled st

That is really unfortunate for your students.The only way to really include the most involved students would be to utilize technology--switches, software, voice out put devices,etc.--have them included in some of the organization--"say" spelling words. list ingredients or steps during an activity,(by using voice output devices)--include them in small groups with other students asigned to help them, but use the software to be on the same topic.It will be very hard, but with a little imagination and tech, it can be done--good luck this year-I hope it will get better. The parents must be very upset-maybe it will more successful than people think !

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