Making sure full inclusion was in place during high school was hard at first as partial inclusion then was fairly new so understandably it was harder for our current Special Educator director to understand the differences. Thankfully my parents had the opportunity to share the updated Inclusion models with the History and English department chairs.
They informed them that since the “C” level is just for resource room students it could be an unacceptable model now as Ogdensburg is still listed as a full-inclusion school. They were appreciative and now completely understood why we chose the regular-level courses. However, there was a downside: the department chairs then decided not to require their teachers to teach it as a result resource room teachers just taught them which meant other students like myself often missed out on having our best English and History teachers. This was disappointing as I know personally through being a full inclusion student these teachers inspire their students daily.
Now in terms of services for 9th grade, we decided to have out resource room 9x a cycle given the increased academic demands. We kept speech 3x a cycle with push-in services 2x a cycle and pull-out services 1x per cycle. We knew keeping direct speech therapy was important so that I could keep improving my articulation and social communication skills through direct instruction. Yet, we were also realistic that I needed the extra resource room time since we knew through choosing to be on the full inclusion path the academic demands would be greater. Due to this my resource room and speech therapist worked very closely together. This truly helped to address all my deficits and to make sure I was a successful student.
Come 10th grade we chose to keep the resource room the same but changed Speech therapy to 1x a cycle push in services and check in’s when needed. The check in’s included 15-20 mins of articulation and eye contact practice so I could communicate in class better. Some were surprised but given how the full inclusion History course included a writing lab 3x a cycle and the English course included a writing and research lab 1x a cycle there really wasn’t room to include pull out speech. Furthermore math was becoming an even bigger challenge so a second push in service didn’t make sense either. However my speech therapist said with my academic course load this schedule did make the most sense as my academics come first .
Now 11th and 12th grade was where we needed to be extra careful that full inclusion was in place because at this point some viewed being fully inclusive as a privilege.The reason is that students without disabilities needed to meet the requirements to take extra math and science courses and for their college admissions. I knew personally I wanted to give it a shot and made the ending goal to attend a college with excellent support for students with Learning Disabilities. Thankfully my resource room teacher did support us but understandingly she had some hesitations too. However, through having resource room 9x a cycle and always working hard both at school and home her hesitations disappeared and I achieved tremendous success. The added bonus was my ending goal of being accepted into Dean College and their ARCH Program for Learning Disabled Students was fulfilled.
One piece of advice I can offer is to share your feelings and concerns with the teachers involved with student placements and give a positive remark about what they are presenting to you. For example my Mom, a former resource room teacher, spoke at my placement meeting and said that for many of the LD students having the ‘C’ level is a great option, however it isn’t appropriate for my daughter as she loves to learn and challenge herself . She then shared the information about the updated inclusion models and her concerns with my current English and History teachers and their department chairs. Afterwards the teachers were so thankful for my mom’s advocacy and knowledge not only for me but all of the learning disabled students.
Overall it is so important to be careful about your academic placements and to always remember to ask questions about what services can be decreased or removed. Remember at the secondary level,full inclusion needs to be in place especially if your goal like mine is to go college and be connected with your classmates. While it’s never easy, understanding inclusive education has three parts: mainstreaming, partial inclusion, and full inclusion can be difficult so it is important to speak up and share your views as it is your education.
Eileen is a Project Social Ambassador and blogger for The NVLD Project. She loves helping others understand they can achieve their goals and dreams through hard work and dedication.