Teaching Students with Varying Exceptionalities (Part 2)

As mentioned previously in my post Teaching Students with Varying Exceptionalities (Part 1), teaching students with varying exceptionalities can be very rewarding and challenging. In this post I will continue where I left off, describing some of the basic characteristics of some varying exceptionalities that fall under the umbrella of ESE (Exceptional Student Education).

It is important to remember that when studying education in college that you can choose to specialize in ESE and not just the general education genre. This certification can go as far as high school level, where the rewards and challenges are equal to those at the elementary and middle school levels.

An ESE certification is required to teach, exclusively, students with varying exceptionalities. (Photo courtesy of susivinh on flickr)

To continue, these areas are also included in Varying Exceptionalities, and thus fall under the umbrella of ESE:

  • Physically impaired/health impaired: Although specific certification to teach students with physical impairments or other health impairments is not necessary, an ESE certification does cover it. However, if you’re looking to work exclusively with students with this kind of disability, you should probably look into obtaining certification or a degree in physical/occupational therapy, as these services will be needed by these students. Students with physical or other health-related impairments may require occupational/physical therapies, special transportation, specific technological devices to ensure their success in school, and when in school, they will receive services within and from the school’s nursing services. This can be very rewarding work, whether it is as a therapist or educator.
  • Brain injury: Classified as a Traumatic Brain Injury, or TBI, this happens when an injury to the brain is caused by an external force resulting in total or partial functional or psychosocial impairment (or all) that directly affects the ability of the student’s educational performance. This area does not include brain injuries that are birth-related, congenital, or degenerative. Usually a basic ESE certification enables the educator to work with these students, and in some cases, the general ed classroom teacher will occasionally have a student diagnosed with TBI in their class.
  • Emotional/behavior disorder: This area does fall under ESE and will require a certification in ESE for the educator to be qualified to work with students with emotional behavior disorders. In this area the disorders can be classified as internally (feelings of sadness, restless behavior, loss of interest, etc.) and externally (aggressive behavior, noncompliance, inability to build and maintain relationships with peers and adults, etc.). ESE services are fully provided to students that fall under this category, and this can be a very challenging environment for the teacher. While very rewarding, some teachers are just not cut out for the demands that students with emotional behavior disorders will place upon them.

While it takes patience, understanding, and a very strong fortitude to commit to working with ESE students, it is rewarding, as I have stated before. Lessons and activities need to be modified and fitted with appropriate accommodations that support each student’s needs. Technology, art, and music can be integrated as well to build and maintain student interest—music and art are especially useful with ESE students. For more information on incorporating music into the classroom, please read this article.

I will continue with two more aspects of ESE and varying exceptionalities in my next post.

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