Many times, special education is thought of as being completely separate from any other area of education. Parents may assume that their special needs children will be taught in a separate classroom from other students and that only special needs teachers will address the goals of the Individualized Educational Plan. While this may be the case in some school districts, it is far from being ideal. Instead, the inclusion of special needs students into general education classrooms and collaboration between special education and general education teachers is the ideal that nearly always creates the best learning experience for the child.
Inclusion and collaboration come with numerous benefits to special education students and even to their teachers. Students feel that some of the stigmas of their physical or mental disabilities are wiped away when they can attend at least some parts of school with their general education peers. In addition, these students who are included often meet the goals of their IEPs better than do those who are separated from their peers. This is because many teachers have a stake in the educational growth and development of the child, and the teachers become motivated to succeed. This model has repeatedly been proven to help special needs students meet grade-level expectation more quickly than can those who are constantly pulled out of the general educational setting.
Of course, the collaboration between special needs and general education teachers is not always easy. Teachers must do a great deal of work with their colleagues to ensure that all goals are being met. Teachers will constantly need to revise their teaching plans to give themselves time to reteach concepts that have not yet taken hold and to spend extra time with the special needs children. They must have open minds as they work with a variety of educational specialists and with the parents.