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April 2017 | Volume 74 | Number 7
Differences, Not Disabilities
All students benefit when regular education teachers and special educators work together.
My first job as a special education teacher was in a public middle school in the 1970s. My students were the ones who were disruptive to the ordinary workings of the school community. My classroom was in the basement, at the end of a long hall, next to the janitor's office; my students were as far away from the other students as they could possibly be without being considered an "outside placement."
I soon realized that my sole job was to keep my students from disturbing others. When I asked the principal whether my students could organize a schoolwide contest to guess the number of marbles in a fish tank, all he said was, "No. That's probably not a good idea." There were no expectations for me to develop partnerships with the rest of the staff.
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