What Is Inclusion?
Inclusive education is a classroom model where students with special needs are taught in classrooms alongside their general education peers. This model most often operates under a co-teaching strategy, in that the classroom has both a General Education and Special Education teacher. This approach is also often referred to as CTT (Collaborative Team Teaching) or ICT (Integrated Co-Teaching). The difference between inclusion classrooms and self-contained classrooms is that special needs students in inclusive classrooms are typically labeled as having mild to moderate disabilities, while students within self-contained classrooms are labeled as having severe/multiple disabilities.
While both mild/moderate and severe/multiple disabilities fall under the same special education category, the needs of these students vary, so it is important that you find a degree program that allows you to focus on your demographic of students.
Teaching Students With Mild-to-moderate Disabilities
Becoming certified to teach students with mild to moderate disabilities prepares you to help children whose special needs hinder their academic achievement, usually in areas of math, reading, writing and socialization. Students with mild to moderate special needs spend part or a majority of their school day in a general education/CTT classroom, occasionally supplemented with time in speech, resource room, occupational therapy, etc.
Individuals looking to work with students with mild to moderate disabilities should look into school programs that focus on preparing educators to work within that specific demographic. Special education programs such as our partner USC Rossier Online tailor their programs so that teachers are aptly prepared for succeeding in a co-teaching classroom model. The special needs of students with mild to moderate disabilities may include learning disabilities, speech/language disorders, behavior disorders, ADD/ADHD and/or high-functioning Autism Spectrum Disorder.
Teaching Students With Severe/multiple Disabilities
Becoming certified to teach students with severe/multiple disabilities prepares you to work with students whose special needs inhibit their performance — not only on an academic level, but also in terms of their physical capabilities and life skills — leading to severe educational needs. Students with severe/multiple disabilities are often in self-contained classrooms and/or schools.
The National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities (NICHCY) defines severe disabilities asindividuals with severe to profound developmental and/or intellectual disabilities. The severity of these disabilities must require “ongoing, extensive support” in life and/or social activities in order to participate in educational and community activities.
The IDEA defines multiple disabilities as concomitant impairments that cause severe educational needs that cannot be met through programs designed for children with a single impairment. Concomitant impairments include intellectual disability and blindness, or intellectual disability and orthopedic impairment. (The IDEA does not identify deaf and blindness as a multiple disability.)
Those looking to work with students who have severe and/or multiple disabilities will most commonly work in specialized private school settings or in self-contained special education classes in a general education setting. Teachers with a degree in severe/multiple disabilities also have the opportunity to work in government agencies, non-profit organizations and private institutions devoted to students with severe developmental disabilities.