Special Needs Topics with Don Peek
This post is authored by Don Peek, a former educator and past president of the training division of Renaissance Learning. He now runs The School Funding Center, a company that provides grant information and grant-writing services to schools. To learn more, or to subscribe to the School Funding Center Grant Database, go to schoolfundingcenter.
Are You Protecting Your Students?
It seems that bullying is standard practice for some of our students these days. The spectrum runs from just being obnoxiously rude to physical assault. Unfortunately, special education students are far too often the targets of this abuse. Do you have procedures or a program in place to protect your students?
It is fine to provide students with the very best academic program possible, but if schools fail to teach their students to get along with one another, stand up for the weak, and promote fairness and equality, have we really done our jobs as educators?
Not as many parents are doing a good job in this area. Not as many students attend church and follow religious principals which might prevent this type of abuse. It is one more job that has fallen on the shoulders of teachers, administrators, and counselors. That may not be fair, but it is the reality of the situation.
Unfortunately for disabled students, bullies actively seek out those who are different in any way and especially those who are least able to defend themselves. A first step in any school is to make it known to the entire population that bullying will not be tolerated. However, if you only use negative consequences to fight bullies, you may not be as effective as you think. In fact, it could work against you. Some bullies will get a rush from the attention and the risk of being caught and punished.
Don’t misunderstand me. I believe we should monitor those who tend to bully others, catch them in the act as often as possible, and punish them for their cowardly acts. Were they adults, many of them would end up in jail on assault charges.
I just believe that you also need a positive program to teach students tolerance and the joy of giving. When regular students bond with special education students, it produces positive results for both groups. Special education students get included in many activities they might otherwise miss, and regular education students learn how to take responsibility for others. They get attention in positive rather than negative ways.
Unfortunately, we have to be aware that there is bullying even within the ranks of special education. Students who are physically stronger than others may try to take advantage of their weaker classmates. Good social skills simply need to be taught to all of our students.
Several companies have packaged programs for dealing with bullying. If you find one that fits your school, it may save you a lot of time and energy, but don’t feel that you have to go out and purchase a program. You can develop your own.
I believe that every school should have a strong academic program for every student, regardless of the student’s abilities. I also believe that it has become imperative that schools teach proper social skills. A good place to start is to teach regular education students to treat those who may have disabilities with respect. Not only will that help to protect our special education students, it will make all of our students better people.
Grant Name: U-Act Grants
Funded By: Red Robin Foundation
Description: U-ACT, which stands for Unbridled Acts, or random acts of kindness, is a character-building initiative specifically for grades K-8, which aims to inspire and encourage students to be kind to others. The goal of the Red Robin Foundation U-ACT Program is to create a sense of neighborliness inside and outside of school settings and eliminate bullying through Unbridled Acts. Through monthly monetary grants, the Red Robin Foundation U-ACT Program honors schools that exemplify kindness to others and show support in their community through Unbridled Acts. If your class or school is between the grades of K-8 and you want to implement a program to encourage kindness among your students, and receive a grant for doing so, then you can submit a request! Simply come up with an idea of how you would encourage and implement kindness in your class or at your school and send it to the Red Robin Foundation.
Program Areas: At-Risk/Character, Community Involvement/Volunteerism, Disabilities, General Education, Math, Reading, Science/Environment, Social Studies, Special Education
Recipients: Public School, Private School
Proposal Deadline: 3/1/12
Average Amount: $150.00 - $2,500.00
Availability: All States