Through watching a teacher interact with a student with a disability, other students not only will learn how to interact with that student e. Research examining student attitudes toward their peers with disabilities has suggested that contact with students with disabilities might lead to positive attitudes. In addition to being able to interact cooperatively with each other, students benefit from gaining an appreciation for diversity in general. Heinrichs suggested that schools can help students develop tolerance and respect for differences by teaching empathy and anger-management skills and promoting respect for others via the general curriculum.
The variety of character education programs available can be used as a foundation from which discussions and activities specific to students with disabilities can be incorporated.
School counselors can promote similar agendas i. Both small group and classroom guidance activities can be designed to promote respect for differences and interaction among students with and without disabilities. Additionally, school counselors could serve as coordinators of peer tutoring programs and collaborate with teachers in the implementation of classroom-based activities. Successful implementation of any type of programming depends on support from administrators and cooperative efforts from school personnel.
Vaughan recommended that schools make time to assess their cultures i.
Negative messages can unintentionally be communicated to students via language or procedures. For example, schools that single out students with disabilities as different e. Students are savvy to the beliefs of school personnel, even when those beliefs are not verbalized. For example, by inviting and encouraging all students to participate in college fairs or register for college admissions exams, school personnel communicate their belief that all students have a right to pursue post-secondary education.
In another effort to prevent students with disabilities from being singled out, school personnel might examine their enforcement of school rules. All students should be expected to adhere to school rules, and disciplinary actions should be equitable Salisbury et al. Bullying and teasing will likely ensue when some students are held to different standards than others. Similarly, high expectations for all students with regard to both behavior and academics Corbett, ; Salisbury et al.
Finally, schoolwide initiatives to promote and celebrate diversity have been encouraged Kugelmass, For example, student projects, school activities, and artwork on the walls can be highlighted. McDougall et al. School counselors can draw from their training and conduct needs assessments to identify potential systematic, programmatic, and attitudinal areas for change in order to create positive environments for students with disabilities. In collaboration with other school personnel they can help to establish school policies that communicate respect, high expectations, and interest in equitable outcomes for all students.
They also can bring to the attention of administrators the importance of ongoing professional development for school personnel in relation to working with students with disabilities.
Whether it be through direct services offered to students or in collaboration with teachers, school counselors can help students develop appreciation for students with disabilities and related skills for successfully interacting with them. Finally, by communicating high expectations and providing support, school counselors can help students with disabilities understand that their disabilities should not be reasons to limit their aspirations.
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