This paper is a reflection on peer observations conducted for six different inclusion classroom settings -- (1) 9-12 general education elementary classroom; (2) K-5 general education elementary classroom; (3) Learning/Intervention Center in a public school setting; (4) Special education day class with students with mild/moderate disabilities; (5) Special day class with students with moderate/severe disabilities; and, (6) a Resource specialist program. Each of the observations noted lasted at least one hour and included a language arts or mathematics session. One student in each classroom was also an English learner. These observations provided useful insight into the inclusion classroom setting.
Erin Richardson observed Ms. Moreno’s Tenth Grade English Class at Gregori High School. It was interesting to learn the important role that the physical layout of Ms. Moreno’s classroom played in her classroom environment. The split layout of the students’ desks allowed Ms. Moreno to easily negotiate her way around the classroom and engage with the students. It also allowed the students to quickly convene into small working groups. This all helped the students engage both with the teacher and with one another.
Cheryl Suydam-Taylor observed Mr. Wilkin’s Third Grade General Education Class at Burrel Union Elementary School. It was interesting to read that learning disabilities are often “hidden exceptionalities,” when many of the other exceptionalities observed by other student-teachers, and the students’ related behaviors, are so outwardly visible. Before reading this observation, I was unaware that learning disabilities are actually difficult for parents and teachers to diagnose.
Benjamin Cummings observed Ms. Reynold’s and Ms. Bishop’s 9th Grade Learning Center Class at Clovis East High School. It was important to learn about the importance of parallel teaching in a split classroom. Contrary to the teacher/aid relationships described by other observers, the two teachers in this classroom collaborated with one another to provide the best support to the students. The teachers also had a uniform approach to discipline, which set clear expectations for the students in the classroom. There was continuity between the two halves of the classroom.
Jamie Veverka observed Mrs. H’s 4th and 5th Grade Special Day Class at Hollydale Elementary School. The most interesting thing about this observation was to learn that there was an entire classroom comprised of nine students -- eight diagnosed with Autism, and one with Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder -- and all were male. There were no girls in the class. The teacher relied on the dominant gender in the classroom when decorating. The classroom activities (such as books and toys) were also weighed heavily towards boys.
Jeanette Cervantes observed Ms. Sisson’s K-3rd Grade Special Day Class at Hudnall Elementary School. This observation demonstrated the importance of warmth in the classroom, especially when dealing with students with what the observer described as an array of exceptionalities. The observer described the class as not being warm and inviting to students, and instead said that it was cluttered and impersonal. It was also interesting to note that although the teacher provided positive reinforcement to the students, her apparent lack of genuine affection was reflected in the student’s reactions to Ms. Sisson. A warmer classroom and a warmer teacher may have yielded better results from the students.
Victoria Hoffman observed Mrs. Mary-Beth’s Resource Classroom at Foster Elementary School. It was interesting to note the teacher’s application of physical activity in a classroom setting. According to the Brain Gym website discussed in the observation paper, stretching and counting activities calm students down, and transition them into the next learning activity. Prior to reading this information, it would have been easy to incorrectly assume that this kind of physical activity would actually distract students and get them even more excited. Instead, this kind of activity has the opposite effect.