Help me, help you: using teachers' strengths to establish successful mainstreaming practices

This survey research detennined areas of strength and need for general education teachers, special education teachers, and paraprofessionals, from five elementary schools in one district who assist special needs students participating in mainstreaming or inclusion practices. Due to diminishing resources within many districts, employing creative problem solving is essential to meet the needs of teachers who are striving, in turn, to meet the needs of their students. The study proposed that the subgroups would have varying strengths and that each subgroup would be able to provide support for other subgroups in the various aspects of inclusion and mainstreaming. Participants completed a survey by responding to statements using a Likert scale, ranked response, and open-ended questions concerning mainstreaming practices. Using this qualitative and quantitative data, perceived strengths of each subgroup were detennined, confinning the premise that the subgroups of professionals have areas of strength which compliment other subgroups' areas of need. The responses also generated suggestions to improve the inclusion and mainstreaming process. Using this data to develop effective collaborative practices, schools can reduce areas of deficit and improve the learning experience of all students. These practices can facilitate the appropriate education for students with disabilities, while working within the constraints of limited resources. KEYWORDS: collaboration, elementary school, general education teachers, mainstreaming, paraprofessionals, special education teachers