Saudi Arabia does not offer special preparation for teachers who opt to take on the sometimes difficult task of teaching a child who has been labeled for the special education program. There is no co-teaching or student teaching process that is put into place, nor is a license required in order to teach; in addition, there is no specialized training program or a training program of any kind for teachers who wish to teach special education courses. Given the fact that these processes, practices, and procedures are not set in place, special education teachers often end up practicing a process of trial and error in order to be able to teach this special subcategory of lessons. Three ideas regarding training methods and teaching practices are proposed in order to work to resolve this deficit, looking at current research regarding the best practices for teaching special education in today’s day and age.
For students who have disabilities the definition of a successful teacher and successful teaching practices has come to indicate only that the student has made satisfactory progress regarding the general education curriculum requirements (Brownell, et al., p. 358). In the past, a non-categorical approach was used, designed to work to address the learning needs of the students on the basis of their individualized needs in regards to learning (Brownell, et al., p.358), and while this approach has been discarded in favor of new methods of teaching, perhaps it is one of the best places to start, when no such program is currently in existence. In order to be able to create a program of this manner and this magnitude, especially given the fact that studies have shown that effective teachers are at the core of every student’s body of knowledge and their capacity to learn the information being presented to them, it is necessary to first create effective teachers by providing them with the preparation and the qualities that they will need in order to be able to do their jobs effectively (Smith, et al., p. 27).
On the job training of special education students works to assist teachers through instruction based interventions, with an individual working to provide error correction and feedback while the individual is teaching, a process not dissimilar from student teaching (Vuran & Gul, 2012). First, it is proposed that, in the interim, while teaching practices and policies are being put into place it is recommended that teachers who wish to enter into the field of special education are paired with a mentor, someone who has already worked to find certain policies and practices that work best within their classroom, thereby providing a foundation for new teachers to work off of.
Evidence based practices, or EBPs, are a form of instructional techniques that are used to teach in a more effective and efficient manner, regardless of the skill set and capabilities of the students themselves (Cook & Cook, p.71). The teachers who have already worked to find methodologies that work for them within the special education field should next work to compose a list of evidence based practices in literary form. These practices should be provided to new teachers for the purpose of further strengthening the foundation that has been created through on the job training and mentoring.
Finally, through the collaborative works of on the job training and the application of evidence based practices, a program should be created that works to first provide background knowledge regarding many of the more common disabilities, what types of accommodations that are needed for each, and a basic understanding of what each of these disabilities may entail on a best, average, and worst case scenario. After the completion of this training, the teachers should then go through the review of the EBPs and the mentoring program before being provided their own classroom. Through an understanding of the needs of these students, it will be possible to work to improve the special education system the world over.
- Brownell, M., Sindelar, P., Kiely, M., & Danielson, L. (2010). Special education teacher quality and preparation: Exposing foundations, constructing a new model. Exceptional Children, 76(3), 357-377.
- Cook, B. G., & Cook, S. (2013). Unraveling Evidence-Based Practices in Special Education. Journal Of Special Education, 47(2), 71-82. doi:10.1177/0022466911420877
- Smith, D., Robb, S., West, J., & Tyler, N. (2010). The changing education landscape: How special education leadership preparation can make a difference for teachers and their students with disabilities. Teacher and Special Education, 33(1), 25-42. doi: 10.1177/0888406409358425
- Vuran, S., & Gül, S. (2012). On-the-job Training of Special Education Staff: Teaching the Simultaneous Prompting Strategies. Educational Sciences: Theory & Practice, 12(3), 2101-2110.