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I was very troubled by the negative messages regarding the inclusion of special ed
students, and was beginning to think I was the only one who welcomes these students into
the art room. I remember being initially fearful of how to incorporate these students
and provide them with a meaningful experience, rather than just keeping them quiet and
busy, but it's always worked out, somehow.
The schools here have a larger than average LD, EMH, and TMH population due to
socio-economic influences, poor pre-natal care, poor diets, and a high rate of maternal
alcoholism. The district does not label students EH even when that is clearly the case.
I don't read their psych reports, IEPs, or ask the special ed teachers too much about
them; I try really hard to accept them at face value.
We have the best self-contained teacher in the country, whose room is across from mine
and with whom I have a great working relationship. We work together placing a few of
his kids in my classes in compatible pairs or threes. I've found that it works best to
get the other students settled and working before devoting the time to assist the sp.
ed. students. I have never asked for an aide to come and assist. Part of my goal with
these students is to make them independent and self reliant.
A student who wants to cause trouble while waiting for me either gets to assist me with
supplies or wait out in the hall to discuss his behavior. I make it very clear, every
time, that it's _my_ classroom, _I'm_ in charge, and bad behavior will _not_ be
tolerated. I don't care how they're "allowed" to act in other classes. They cannot act
like that in mine.
Yes, it is hard trying to meet everyone's needs all at once, and yes, I've had to bounce
a few back to the self-contained room or the in-house suspension room, but for the most
part the rewards of seeing a formerly disruptive student get settled into a routine--and
they usually need a lot of structure--and start producing is worth all the trouble.
One person wrote a long diatribe about the situation in her school. Then, in another
message, she wrote, "It is best to be familiar with many discipline theories, then
develop your own. But the main ingredients for success are determination, persistence,
consistency, fairness and love." _That's_ how you do it.
wendy sauls wrote:
> many emotionally handicapped kids are included in my art classes. i have
> experienced heartache and frustration, but also have felt joy and
> satisfaction seeing their interest in art grow and their behavior in the
> art room improve because they like art, want to stay in class, and are
> given fair, consistent, caring disciplinary guidelines. these kids are
> "stuck" in my class 'cause i don't resist having them as some others do; i
> am kinda proud of this! disruptions arise; usually i and the rest of the
> class get through them without much trouble.
> not to overplay the sympathy aspect ( i know, we art teachers deserve lots
> of it, too!), but the history of emotionally handicapped kids is often
> nightmarish. and what about teachers who have these kids when they aren't
> with us, for the rest of the day (severly eh kids may be in self contained
> classrooms)?! eh kids do often require extra time, work, attention from us.
> just think of it as one step closer to sainthood! :D