Scholarly article on topic 'The scholar integration of students with special needs - a regional approach'

The scholar integration of students with special needs - a regional approach Academic research paper on "Economics and business"

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Abstract of research paper on Economics and business, author of scientific article — Elena Dănescu, Dan Iordăchescu

Abstract The present study deals with the problem of optimizing the school integration process of students with special educational needs, emphasizing the role of continuous professional development of teaching staff throughout the process of transforming normal schools into inclusive schools. The main aspects of the present study can be useful for the professional development of teaching personnel, emphasizing shifts in attitudes and educational practices with regards to the problem of integrating students with special educational needs.

Academic research paper on topic "The scholar integration of students with special needs - a regional approach"

Procedía

ELSEVIER

Social and Behavioral Sciences

Procedía - Social and Behavioral Sciences 33 (2012) 558181 - 592

PSIWORLD 2011

The scholar integration of students with special needs - a

regional approach

Elena Danescua*, Dan Iordachescua

University of Pitesti, Romania,,

Abstract

The present study deals with the problem of optimizing the school integration process of students with special educational needs, emphasizing the role of continuous professional development of teaching staff throughout the process of transforming normal schools into inclusive schools. The main aspects of the present study can be useful for the professional development of teaching personnel, emphasizing shifts in attitudes and educational practices with regards to the problem of integrating students with special educational needs.

© 2012 Published by Elsevier B. V Selection and/or peer-review under responsibility ofPSIWORLD2011

Keywords: special education, social integration, special needs, disabled persons;

1. Introduction

The adhesion of our educational system to the Standard Regulations for the equalization of the disabled persons (ONU resolution, ratified in 1993), the Declaration from Salamanca (1994), as well as the Frame for Action in the education of special requirements (UNESCO resolution, ratified in 1994) stressed the need for re-establishing a distinct educational policy at a national level and finding some practical solutions for:

• ensuring the right to education (all children must receive education in any community);

• ensuring the real, unrestricted access to education (by creating facilities, opportunities, and favorable conditions in the field of education);

'Corresponding author Daeescu Eleea. Tel.: .+40723022757 E-mail address: lilidaeescu@yahoo.com.

1877-0428 © 2012 Published by Elsevier B.V. Selection and/or peer-review under responsibility of PSIWORLD2011 doi:10.1016/j.sbspro.2012.01.189

• equalizing opportunities for all educated persons ( the necessities, needs, desires of each individual are of equal importance with those of each kin, the school having the duty to put at each educated person's disposal the resources that he or she needs).

The concept of special educational needs (SEN) was incorporated into UNESCO terminology in the 1990s as a corollary to the emphasized targeting of special education towards the child and the community. Summarily, the typology of the SEN categories includes: mental and behaviour disorders, mental retard/deficiency, physical/movement deficiencies, visual deficiencies, audio deficiencies, speaking disorders, learning disorders/deficiencies. By using the concept of special educational needs (SEN) one aspires to overcome the traditional separation of children in different categories and one desires an individualization of the evaluation and educational process, and a plurifactual and dynamic analysis of the causes of scholastic failure.

2. Strategies and integration models of the child/student with educational special needs

Generally speaking, the concept of social integration was defined as representing "the processing of interactions between the individual or group and the social environment specifically or integrally, by the environment of which a functional equilibrium of the parts is made" (Zamfir, & Vlasceanu, 1993).

In a strict sense, with strict reference to children/students with special educational needs (SEN) and in the context of normal philosophy, integration refers to enclosing these students in common educational institutions and is founded on the following principles: the principle of socialization, normalizing principle, the principle of equal rights, the principle of going outside the institution, the principle of development, the principle of equal chances in education, the principle of ensuring support services, the principle of early intervention, the principle of cooperation and partnership (Danescu, 2010 ).

Alois Ghergut (2006) considers that from a psycho-pedagogical point of view, integration can be seen under a triple aspect: as an aim, as a process and as a result.

• As an aim, integration wants the realization of a concordance between requirements and manifestations, a subordination of the secondary aspects to those that serve the orientation (it is about developing motivation, stating the aspirations, the models that can facilitate adaptation and integration). The concrete elements of personality (assimilations, capacities, aptitudes, abilities) should be trained, stimulated, cultivated, followed, in order to facilitate the adaptation-integration.

• As a process, integration is complex, dynamic and consists of an assembly of mechanisms and operations that prepare, finish and complete the respective action. The stages and levels of the processes of regulation and auto regulation in the system are in the psycho-pedagogies' attention for the analysis and projecting of the educational programs reported to the specificity and individuality of the child.

• As a result, integration is correlated especially by the educational work and social life, the evolution of some phenomenon found under the influence of the socio-economical environment. Last but not least, the integration is also appreciated as a positive indicator of the educational activity and of the evolution of some social phenomenon.

3. Methodology for Improving the Integration of the Child/Student with Special Educational Needs in Society

The process of integrating the children/pupils with SEN in community is complex; evidently it has diverse characteristics depending on the development level of the respective society. It is rational and correct to create a strategy of improvement for the child/pupil with SEN in community, delimitating the proprietary actions of applying diverse integration models. The main action directions of this strategy are:

human resources, communitarian development, the education and information of the family, the efficient usage of the financial resources, modernizing the system and the conditions of the institutions, creating alternative models to prevent placement.

From a psychological point of view, the course of elaborating an improvement strategy of integration of the child/pupil with SEN in the community was made on the principles:

• Equal rights;

• Equalizing the chances for education;

• Assuring support services;

• Early intervention;

• Cooperation and partnership.

The aim of the strategy is to reform the caring and educational system and to create good conditions for integration and education within the community of children/pupils with SEN. Strategic objectives have been determined:

• Preventing the placement for children/students with SEN;

• Developing and promoting the alternative models for the children/students with SEN;

• Modernizing the institutional system and improving the care conditions, rehabilitation and education;

• Mobilizing and developing the community and the family in supporting the children/students with

• The teacher's personal development towards children/students with SEN.

In our research it is impossible to describe all the means of implementing the actions of the proposed strategies. There are a few primordial actions that determine the future of the institutionalized children and the process of their integration in community. The professional development of teachers, concerning the problems of children/students with SEN, is considered a primordial action in this issue. In this context The Department for Teachers' Training (D.F.T.T.) from the University of Pitesti conducted a series of studies regarding the need for professional development of teachers on approaches to current educational policy at national and European level on inclusive education.

The need to implement the continuous training program regarding the professional development in the issue of working with children with SEN resulted from an investigation that was done on a group of 240 teachers from various public primary schools in Arges county. The scope of the investigation was to survey the educational perceptions and practices of teachers towards inclusive education, in order to qualitatively optimize their teaching activity. The methodology that was used in this investigation was based on an interview guide regarding the knowledge, skills, and abilities used in working with children with SEN; the results of the investigation, which were processed and interpreted based on descriptive statistical analyses, provided relevant data for improving professional training in this field, given that:

• 73% of teachers (educators, teachers, secondary school teachers) working with children with SEN but they did not follow a systematic training program to provide and / or to check on the abilities they have in the field of especial education with these children, but often, in the absence of the itinerant teacher, they act empirically;

• 80% of teachers are motivated to actively participate in a training program if they can define the problems faced in their own school.

The program that was initiated and undertaken the D.F.T.T. of University of Pitesti during the year of 2010 wishes to emphasize the role of continuous training of teachers in the transformation process of normal schools in inclusive schools. The program is a concrete initiative to support the professional development of teachers, from the local community, in the field of inclusive education. The development of the program is based on the following principles (Danescu, 2009):

• Transforming schools into inclusive schools is a complex process which involves extensive changes in the principles and values, attitude, the mentality, practices both at the school management and class level;

• The change of attitudes and practices requires a long process because this change requires not only information about new practices which should be implemented in the classroom, but also developing the skills to implement these practices in the current activity;

• It is not enough to know the necessary abilities of the teacher who facilitates the learning process in inclusive schools; these competencies should be formed and developed.

3.1. Didactical skills for inclusive education.

The profile of the teacher's skills who performs inclusive education was established starting from, psychological and pedagogical theories of inclusive education, existing practices in schools, and are shaped as follows:

1. Instrumental competencies

Detailed competencies:

• Deepening of some theories from special psycho-pedagogy, from child psychology and education science for the purpose of training competencies necessary to individualized treatment of children with SEN in the context of inclusive school;

• Training the ability to design and implement of compensatory- recovering programs in order to optimize the school performances of integrated students with SEN;

2. Competencies of planning and differentiated organization of didactic activities Detail competences:

• Training /developing capacities required to elaborate and implement the projects of didactic technology in accordance with the requirements of inclusive school;

• Developing competences to project educational support adapted to individual particularities of students;

3. Relational competencies Detail competencies:

• Forming empathic relational ability based on respect, tolerance, understanding, and valuation of children in general and those with SEN in particular as a basis of educational relation;

• Developing relational and communication skills, including specific language of persons with disabilities;

• Training capacity for acceptance of "unity in diversity" and customizing relational procedures related to specific decompensate personalities of children with different deficiencies / handicaps;

4. Evaluation competencies

Detail competencies:

• Knowledge and ability in evaluating etiology, social and familial factors with impact upon teaching and integration of children with SEN;

• Development / practice of multidimensional evaluative skills of students with SEN.

5. Counseling competencies

Detail competencies:

• Training capacities to adapt to existential and new educational situations, to the challenges of society in continuous change and to the demands of solving some problems which require counseling, individual and group therapy, support and optimizing interventions;

• Training capacity of accession to the actual educational and social policies to protect children and people with disabilities in order to develop effective strategies at the family, institutional or

community level to eliminate early abandon, family violence, school failure, abuse against children, etc.

As part of the program initiated by the The Department for Teachers' Training (DFTT) from the University of Pitesti for the teachers' professional development on the problems of children/students with SEN a syllabus was developed and courses were held. The objectives are orientated towards respecting the institutionalized children's rights, development of human resources, promoting the concept of education for all, integrated education, inclusive education, preventing institutionalizing by developing inclusive education in the respective school. The courses included subjects for the formation of a new attitude in approaching the children/students with SEN, knowledge and managerial abilities of the stimulation, development and integration actions for these children.

In order to reach to the aim of forming the knowledge and integration aptitudes for children/students with SEN workshops have been done:

• The children's rights and necessities;

• The conditions that determine the child's growth and development;

• Forms for the child's/pupil's in need assistance;

• Communication and development stimulation;

• The necessary changes within institution through partnership and management;

• The qualities of good management;

• Not being in an institution: opportunities, barriers, solutions.

Most important in teachers' training were: to raise awareness in children eduation with SEN , training, the process evaluation. Evaluating the training results at the respective courses included a row of indices. One of them referred to the elaboration by some of the participants at the end of the hearing of a Plan Sketch for action in Order to Promote the Individual Integration. These largely reflected the knowledge and experience gained by the course atendees throughouth the program. Teachers who participated at courses organized promoting activities about the children's rights and the concept of inclusive education.

4. Conclusions:

The main aspets of the present paper emphasize the role of continous professional development of teaching staff throughout the process of transforming normal schools into inclusive schools.

The specialists' training and improvement for the integrated education, using the syllabus for the teachers' training in integrating the children/students with SEN in community, represents a strategic action in the methodology for the improvement of the educational practices with this category of children/students.The courses made the teacher take measures concerning the necessity of promoting integrated education and changes the services offered to children with SEN taking into consideration the child's main interest.

References

Danescu, E. (2009). L' education des enfants avec des dificultes.In M. Milcu, M/dcre Psygh/l/giccl Rcsccrch: trceds ced

pr/spccts (pp.152 - 155). Bucure§ti:Editura Universitarâ. Dânescu, E. (2010). Educctic ietcgrctâ c clcvil/r cu ccrietc cducctivc spcciclc. Piteçti: Editura Universitâtii din Pitesti, (Chapter 4). Ghergut, A. (2006). Psih/pcdcg/gic pcrs/cecl/r cu ccrietc spcciclc.Strctcgii difcrcetictc ¡i iecluzivc.Ia^i: Editura Polirom, (Chapter 3).

Zamfir, C., & Vlâsceanu, L. (1993). Dicti/ecr dc s/ci/l/gic. Bucureçti: Editura Babel, (Chapter 2).