Special Education Process (Differentiation in Classroom Teaching and…
Special Education Process
Differentiation in Classroom Teaching and Assessment
Incorporate Assistive Technologies when needed
Aim for Emotional Support and Understanding in the Classroom Communication and Interactions through a Community Agreement developed at the start of class
Develop tiered approaches to assignments and homework. Vary goals for students by starting from their particular level and abilities. Make sure all goals are clearly communicated.
Incorporate a variety of sensory stimuli in class for different material. Include a wide range of multiple intelligences in the lesson plans. Try to incorporate the principle of Universal Design, to assist issues that I may not even be aware of.
Experiment with different student groupings and include arrangements that allow the time to monitor special needs students carefully.
Include choice in classwork, projects, and assignments.
Regularly communicate with students one on one and develop relationships with them. Treat them as individuals.
Work with special ed assistants and develop collaborative approaches together.
Actions to take after signs identified
Make a list of possible issues. Respond as early as possible.
Ask parents about past experience of the issue. The may have different responses.
Provide information to parents. Remain supportive, and non-alarmist. Include the following:
School protocol and options for testing. Include a flow chart of next steps available and their rights for an IEP.
Informational resources online.
School resources available.
Classroom resources available.
Provide weekly updates on observations in class to parents. This can be for all students on the curriculum and goals, but it can be differentiated for special needs students to define their particular goals.
Hold parent/teacher conferences that are not only for assessment, but also informational and time to practice parent/student skills.
Refer students directly for 504 or an IEP, if the parents are not willing to take necessary action.
Compile information before or at the start of class
Information/IEP plans provided by the school
Student Questionnaire and introduction to inclusive classroom. A time to confidentially explain learning habits by ranking 1 to 5 in a survey-style document.
Parental Questionnaire and Introduction to my inclusive classroom. At this point I can request their preferred method of contact.
Information from past teachers, if available
Monitor During Class
Observe for Signs and take notes using my monitoring system
Categories to consider
Physical (Gross and Fine Motor)
Speech and Language
Behaviors in class
Apparent physical discomfort
I will need to have an organized way to archive my notes about students and parents as I get to know them. I can do this by creating a binder with an ID sheet for each student.
Notebook/Laptop for taking notes in class.
Time set aside after each class for reflection.
Observe Laws and inform unaware parties. (Note: These are the U.S. Laws, but I will probably teach internationally.)
- Individuals with Disabilities Education Act - A federal law requiring schools to serve the educational needs of students with special needs, classified under 14 categories and determined according to a standardized procedure, the IEP Process.
- Free Appropriate Public Education - Students with disabilities will receive appropriate educational services and support based on their individual needs for free.
- Least Restrictive Environment - a requirement in IDEA that students with IEPs be placed in environments that include them in classrooms with other non-disabled students as much as possible.
- 504 Plans are separate from IEPs covered by IDEA. It is a civil rights act, whereas IDEA is an educational law. 504 often covers children with disabilities such as medical conditions and physical disabilities. It can also include anxiety and depression, when these include regular visits to professionals. Parents, teachers, school employees, etc. can all refer children for 504 assessment. They include the accommodations/modifications and they identify the case manager. They are distributed to teachers/parents and placed in the child's cumulative file.
The IEP Process
- Individualized Education Program - This begins with Child Find, the referral process. It can be initiated from a parent, teacher or school personnel. Next, IEP Assessment takes place. Then, eligibility for an IEP is considered. If the child is eligible, the parent meets with the group of relevant professionals to develop the learning plan. Parents may bring external experts to the meeting. This plan is designed for one year. It will cover all of the details from transportation to additional teaching services.
Ongoing Personal Development
Continue to learn about and practice empathy in the classroom.
Develop a strong awareness of learning and ability differences.
Reflect on my own strengths and weaknesses in approaching the learning/ability differences
Learn about conflict deescalation strategies and resolution strategies for handling disruptions, anger and emotional disturbances in the classroom, because it will affect the whole classroom.
Hall, T. E., et. al. (2012) Universal Design for Learning in Classrooms: Practical Applications. New York: Guilford Press.
King-Shaver, B. and Hunter, A. (2003) Differentiated Instruction in the English Classroom: Content, Process, Product and Assessment. Portsmouth: Heinemann, pp. 42-59. Retrieved from
Sapunor, Sally. (August, 2018) Email Interview.
Swicegood, Caroline. (August, 2018) Email Interview.
The Understood Team. (n.d.) Five Benefits of Inclusion Classrooms. Retrieved from
Understanding Special Education (n.d.) A Parent Guide to Special Education, the IEP Process and School Success. Retrieved from
Understanding Special Education (n.d.) What is a Section 504 Plan? Retrieved from
Understanding Special Education (n.d.) Special Education Law: The Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA). Retrieved from
Van Roekel, Dennis, et. al. Culture Abilities Resilience Effort: Strategies for Closing the Achievement Gaps. (2011) Fourth Ed. National Education Association. Retrieved from