George Lucas Educational Foundation

resource room - supplement or supplant?

resource room - supplement or supplant?

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I am a fairly new special ed teacher, but have 22 years in education. I don't have a lot of experience with other school districts in other states, and have some questions regarding common practices. One area that we discuss (argue) over is whether our elementary education resource room should be supplemental instruction (we define this as content area instruction IN ADDITION to the gen ed instruction) or supplanted (INSTEAD OF the gen ed content area instruction). In our area, the specially designed instruction from the resource room teacher had always been supplemental. This created a Gen Ed attitude of "that's a SpEd kid, so I don't have to worry about her." We don't want this feeling in our school anymore, as we are currently in Safe Harbor for our Special Education cell and have decided to try ways to supplement instruction. This has caused a lot of growing pains. Gen Ed teachers are resisting taking on differentiating instruction, trying to include students in instruction when they come back from resource, and differentiating homework. They continue to see these students as a SpEd responsibility. My questions are: Does your resource room supplant or supplement content area instruction? What do you like and/or dislike about your current model? What do the Gen Ed teachers expect of you - the SpEd teacher? Do you provide grades, progress reports or something else? Are the students at your school considered SpEd or GenEd responsibility or both?

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Kevin Crosby's picture
Kevin Crosby
Educator and School Counselor / Trinidad School District #1

For the most part our resource room serves students whose needs are so severe that the regular curriculum is irrelevant. Some students go to resource only for tests or extra help.

The main problem with our current model echoes your concerns; lack of regular teacher differentiation and responsibility. The special education staff should assist with differentiation, but if a child is in the regular classroom, then the regular teacher is ultimately responsible. Eighth grade students, for example, who are "included" in an Algebra class but who function at third grade level in math...well...the first question is should the student be in the class in the first place, and second, what good is "exposure to the regular curriculum" doing that student if it is five years beyond the student's current functioning level? Placement and programming should be about meeting the child's needs, not some rigid ideological stand about inclusion or not.

Our resource room gives grades only to students who do not attend the regular classroom for a given subject. Thus, severe needs students have supplanted curriculum, whereas most students the resource room is supplemental if used at all.

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