When teachers start their teaching career, they have many balls to juggle and challenges to overcome. An understanding of the special education needs is one of them. Educational difficulties do not always mean learning difficulties. There are many cases when a child is academically stable but still may have special needs. For example, a student with no physical disability but suffering from EBD (Emotional and behavioral disability) exhibits frequent and intense behaviors that significantly interfere with his educational performance. This problem stops him from mainstreaming with general education classes and leads to the provision of special education services(Nesbit, 2007). This type of students poses new challenges to the teacher.
In order to overcome the special education challenges, EHCP (also known as IEP) does not only become a priority but a necessity for a teacher. It serves as a roadmap for years to come in a child's academic life.
Reasons why teachers should adhere to EHCP/IEP:
The EHCP or IEP is a team-driven process that prioritizes the support for students with special needs to meet their educational and interpersonal needs. Teachers who work with such students use these plans to guide them in adapting and modifying the design of lessons and instruction in the classroom(anonymous, July 30). A few reasons why teachers should follow EHCP/IEP are given below. A detailed and carefully written IEP helps teachers in:
Teachers must keep the IEP/EHCP in mind as it helps them determine how to collect data about students' strengths and weaknesses and monitor their advancement toward educational goals. Periodic evaluations help teachers assess whether or not their teaching approaches are practical and how to align their teaching strategies with students' progress(anonymous, July 30).
Tailoring individualized instructions
People often mistakenly think the prerequisites for children with learning disabilities are fewer because their curriculum is simplified. However, the difference lies in the teaching strategy. The teaching strategies for special needs students are often more modern than in a regular class. For example, the special education class focuses on oral assessments, individual work, learning through audio lessons, technology, etc (Allison Academy).
EHCP/IEP helps teachers give students individualized instructions tailored to their needs to improve their skills and overcome weaknesses (Belsky).
Respecting the child’s needs
Special education teachers encounter students with a multiplicity of disabilities throughout their careers. Disabilities can range from mild to complex. However, the right educational plan can improve the students' disability regardless of its complexity. Adhering to a carefully filled EHC plan helps teachers ensure that child's integrity is respected so that they will not encounter any psychological problems in the future.
Protecting children's mental health helps them become equal members of the class and society in a broader perspective. It can be made possible only when teachers follow the goals and guidelines mentioned in the EHC plan or the IEP (Allison Academy).
Achieving SMART goals
Very often, either the short-term milestones and the annual measurable goals mentioned in the EHC plan are not SMART, or the teachers show negligence in chasing the goals. In either case, this is a pitfall. Teachers need to follow a well-written IEP/EHCP. It helps teachers become aware of a child's unique situation and circumstances, set SMART (Specific, Measureable, Attainable, Realistic, Time-bound) goals, and provide one-on-one support and unique accommodations for the child (Special ed resource).
Collaboration with other team members
As discussed earlier, educating a special needs child is a team-driven activity. The team's key members are the child, parents, and special education teacher. However, other members might also be needed to collaborate depending on the child's needs, like psychiatrists, speech therapists, physiotherapists, general education teachers, etc. The teacher needs to follow the guidelines mentioned in the EHCP/IEP because it helps her team teach with the child's regular education teacher. Without an IEP/EHC plan, a child's unique needs cannot be adequately addressed. However, meeting the IEP deadlines and goals helps teachers work with third-party members, other school staff, and the regular education teacher. It also helps provide expertise in addressing the child's unique needs (Centre for Parent Information and Resources).
Teachers have a sound knowledge of their scholars' academic background and an exceptional interest in seeing children with special needs succeed. Following the IEP reinforces the teacher's skills, brings valuable insight to the table, and benefits both the teacher and the student.
Allison Academy. (n.d.). benefits of IEP. Retrieved 08 08, 2022, from Allison Academy: https://www.allisonacademy.com/students/learning/learning-disabilities/benefits-of-iep/
Belsky, G. (n.d.). What is an IEP? Retrieved 08 08, 2022, from understood: https://www.understood.org/en/articles/what-is-an-iep
Centre for Parent Information and Resources. (n.d.). Special Educators on the IEP Team. Retrieved 08 08, 2022, from Parent center hub: https://www.parentcenterhub.org/iep-speceducator/
Nesbit, F. (2007, 07 04). Cherokee County School District. Retrieved 08 07, 2022, from Cherokee County School District: https://www.cherokeek12.net/userfiles/wp-uploads/2016/07/Emotional-and- Behavioral-Disability-Eligibility.pdf
Special ed resource. (n.d.). Teachers Role In An IEP. Retrieved 08 08, 2022, from Special Ed Resource: https://specialedresource.com/teachers-role-iep-meeting