Teachers help special education students in many ways, finding solutions to learning obstacles, and advocating for them. Class sizes are smaller, and the lessons are more individualized, as teachers must plan for each child and their abilities.
At Copper View Elementary School, special education teacher Stacie de la Vega teaches 19 students language arts and math in third, fourth, and fifth grades. Her largest class size is six children. Her students might be developmentally delayed, or be on the autism spectrum, or have learning, health, or communication disorders that impact their ability to learn.
De la Vega realizes that there are many misconceptions about special education, and she works hard to dispel them. “Many times, people who haven't worked with students who have learning disabilities assume that means they are disabled. I don't see it that way and I try to make sure my students and their parents don't see it that way, either,” she said. “Kids with learning disabilities just learn differently. It's my job to figure out what that method, strategy or notion might be.”
The students spend most of their time in regular classrooms, but are required by their Individualized Education Plan to have special instruction provided by de la Vega and her colleague, Jan Bryson. The two special education teachers reinforce the same concepts as the other teachers, by using teaching techniques that work for each child. Instead of creating one lesson, they must create multiple lessons to reach the children.