cultivating a heart for individuals with diverse needs and exceptionalities

200 word response to the following. With resources if used and Bible versus if used.

“As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?’ ‘Neither this man nor his parent sinned,’ said Jesus, ‘but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.'” (John 9:1-3, Today’s New International Version).

The 1968 documentary video, “Suffer the Little Children: Pennhurst Pennsylvania State House for the Disabled Children” was very difficult to listen to and watch. It was an eye-opener to learn about how the mentally and physically disabled children were mistreated no too long ago. It’s unfortunate that the parents and persons working at Pennhurst lacked the knowledge to properly care for each child so that he or she lived a fulfilled life. What stood out to me from the video was the narrator saying, “These children can be helped and they are depending on society to care enough about them.”

After watching this video, I got a better understanding as to why schools have been welcoming students with various disabilities. Teachers now have the proper training so they can adequately support students with diverse needs. Van Brummelen (2009) noted that including exceptional students in the regular classroom as much as possible has been a trend over the past decades (p.207). In regards to exceptionalities, Slavin and Schunk (2017) stated that since each student is different in their learning, behavior, activities, skills, and motivation, having unique programs that will fit individual needs is beneficial (p.234). Having diverse students in the classroom is very challenging. However, Myers, Freeman, Simonsen, and Sugai (2017) stated that establishing and teaching routines so that students know the classroom expectations are important for good classroom management. They also noted that “students with disabilities benefit from direct, explicit instruction in expected behaviors (as cited in Gresham, Sugai, & Horner, 2001).

As a substitute teacher, I am grateful to have the opportunity to work with all students including students with exceptionalities. So far, I have worked with students with Moderate Intellectual Disability (MOID) and Emotional Behavior Disorder (EBD) classes. Being able to have hands-on experience with these students in the classroom has allowed me to see that each student has gifts and talents too in their own right. For example, I met a girl who I will describe as having an “angelic voice,” a boy who drew very well, and another boy who was great with computers. Besides their “societal limitations,” they are displaying talents from God. Over the years, my attitude and language have changed because I am able to see beyond their disabilities. Each student regardless of needs and exceptionalities can contribute to society in a unique way whether big or small.

I believe that when taking the biblical approach to welcoming, and nurturing learners with diverse needs or exceptionalities, the following Bible verse is so fitting:

“Moses said to the LORD, ‘Pardon your servant, LORD. I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue. The LORD said to him, ‘Who gave human beings their mouths? Who makes them deaf or mute? Who gives them sight or makes them blind? Is it not I, the LORD. Now go: I will help you speak and will teach you what to say” (Exodus 4: 10-12, TNIV).

To accommodate diverse learners, Van Brummelen (2009) suggested that at the start of the year, a teacher should be welcoming and set an engaging and positive tone so that the classroom environment is pleasant and secure (p. 208). In addition, as a teacher, it is important to teach students with or without disabilities that whether in or out of the classroom, let nothing deter them from accomplishing their goals. As a society, we tend to put people especially students with disabilities “in a box” and set limits on them which is such a disservice to everyone. Students with diverse and exceptionalities deserve a fair shake in the classroom and in society. Finally, each student is created in the image of God with a purpose and has unique gifts despite their special needs (Van Brummelen, 2009, p.205; as cited in Anderson, 2003, p.25).

Meyers, D., Freeman, J., Simonsen, B., & Sugai, G. (2017). Classroom management with exceptional learners, Teaching exceptional children, 49 (4), 223-230. doi.:10.1177/0040059916685064.

Slavin, R. E., & Schunk, D.H. (2017). Learning theories: EDUC 500 (1st ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson.

Suffer the Little Children: Pennhurst Pennsylvania State Home for Disabled Children (1968) [Video File]. Retrieved from…

Van Brummelen, H. (2009). Walking in the classroom: Christian approaches to learning and teaching (3rd ed.). Colorado Springs, CO: Purposeful Design.

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