Developing a mainstreaming course for a teacher professional preparation program in Nigeria: a project centered on identification techniques and instructional strategies for the beginning educator

The focus of this research was to develop an evidence-based professional development training course on mainstreaming. This course will train general education teachers in Nigeria on techniques and skills needed to identify and instruct students with special needs. Many general education teachers in Nigeria are not equipped in their teacher training programs with rich curriculum content in procedures and practices for identification, reference, and placement of students for special education instruction. The number of students living with disabilities continues to increase but there are few teachers adequately trained to instruct them. The National Policy on Education (NPE) 2013 asserts that irrespective of the nature of disabilities, all student should be included in regular classrooms. This policy is largely not implemented by most states in Nigeria (Olukotun and Oke, 2005). With the increasing number of students with special needs making their way into classrooms, there is an urgent need to train teachers to educate these students. This course is a timely response to prepare, empower and equip general education teachers to identify, refer, place and instruct the students in their classroom especially those approved for special education instruction. It is recommended that first, priority be given to evaluating and restructuring the teacher preparation programs to ensure that the curriculum is rich and proficient to prepare beginning educators for the arduous task of teaching all students in their classrooms especially those with disabilities. Secondly, the incorporation of a mandatory special education instruction in the teacher preparation programs to give teachers the skills they need to effectively instruct their students. Thereby, have a positive attitude towards mainstreaming. Finally, to incorporate practical and mentorship programs (field experiences) in the educator preparation programs like student teaching and internship programs to mentor and guide beginning educators with the instructional insights and interventions they need to be confident and successful.