Inclusive Education has been the trend in our education system since the implementation of the K to 12 Program. Including school-aged children with disabilities in regular classrooms has been a challenge since general education teachers are not trained to handle such. Regular teachers are apprehensive about receiving pupils with disabilities coming from Special Education (SPED) self-contained classes in their regular classes mainly because they have no or little knowledge or background to teach these types of learners. This has been a perennial problem since the implementation of Inclusive Education, so the author thought of conducting action research with the partnership of her co-SPED teacher Ms. Jennifer Paras. DepEd has put in place a Basic Education Research Fund (BERF) to fund action researches from the field that would be beneficial in solving school-based or classroom-based problems or challenges. The proponents’ action research proposal was approved by DepEd Region 1 and was funded P30,000 to conduct and complete the said research.
This BERF-funded action research was conducted in SY 2017-2018 to support the implementation of Inclusive Education in public elementary schools as stipulated in DepEd Order No. 72 s. 2009 titled Inclusive Education as Strategy for Increasing Participation Rate of Children. This research assessed the knowledge, skills, attitudes, and values (KSAVs) of seventeen (17) receiving teachers of West Central Elementary School I who are handling Learners with Special Educational Needs (LSENs) in their regular classes. LSENs are those pupils with difficulties in seeing, hearing, remembering and communicating specifically those who are visually impaired, hearing impaired, those with autism and intellectual disabilities. This assessment of KSAVs of receiving teachers in our school served as a basis in conducting a series of SPED-Learning Action Cell (LAC) sessions to address their professional development needs and eventually improve the teaching-learning process in inclusive classrooms.
A survey questionnaire was developed by the two (2) proponents and validated by experts/consultants in the field of Special and Inclusive Education. The survey questionnaire was then revised and finalized based on the feedback and suggestions of SPED specialists, education supervisors, and school leaders. This survey questionnaire was accomplished by the 17 receiving teachers in our school to determine the level of KSAVs they possessed when handling LSENs in their regular classes. Based on the results of the survey, a series of LAC sessions was prepared and conducted to address specifically those KSAVs that are needed in successfully implementing inclusive education in our school.
SPED-LAC sessions were used in this study as an intervention and strategy based on DepEd Order No. 35, s. 2016 titled The Learning Action Cell as a K to 12 Basic Education Program School-Based Continuing Professional Development Strategy For The Improvement of Teaching and Learning. Six (6) consecutive LAC sessions were conducted by the proponents with specific topics per session including Introduction to SPED and Inclusive Education, Teaching Strategies and Techniques in Handling LSENs, Assessment and Placement of LSENs, Preparing Individualized Education Plan (IEP) and Preparing Instructional Materials for LSENs, Inclusion Strategies/Accommodations for Learners with Difficulty in Hearing, Seeing, and Remembering, Orientation and Mobility, Braille Reading and Writing, Classroom Management and Design, Handling Temper Tantrums and Misbehavior. Demonstration teaching was conducted by two (2) receiving teachers, specifically in handling a visually impaired learner in a Grade 4 regular class and two (2) hearing impaired learners included in a regular Grade 3 class. Both teachers have particularly shown the accommodations and modifications that are needed to teach LSENs in inclusive classes successfully. The school principal and the teacher-observers evaluated both teachers as outstanding in their respective demo teaching.
A post-evaluation survey was then accomplished by the receiving teachers after undergoing the six (6) consecutive LAC sessions. Results show that the LAC sessions they have attended are contributory to their increasing level of knowledge, skills, attitudes, and values in handling LSENs in their teaching practice. All the 17 receiving teachers evaluated the LAC sessions to be relevant and significant in the improvement of their KSAVs. Their commitment and passion were all the more fired up at the end of the LAC sessions.
This action research was very beneficial to receiving teachers and learners with special educational needs of West Central Elementary School I SPED Center. It is highly recommended that this study is replicated in other schools to attain the goal of Special Education to include pupils with disabilities in the regular school system fully.