Support and Teaching in the Vulnerable Moments: Preparing Special Educators for Diversity

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In this paper we argue that special educators have a critical role to play in supporting children from diverse communities at times of vulnerability, which are created by the distance between the demands of the school context and the child's cultural context, and that increase the likelihood for school failure and for referral for or placement in special education. We identify four aspects of teacher education for special education that have the potential to strengthen the education of children who traditionally have been marginalized: (a) a much stronger understanding of the sociocultural context of children's learning and development; (b) preparation as members of intercultural mediation teams to support students at such vulnerable moments; (c) opportunities for mediated experiences in diverse sociocultural contexts; and (d) preparation of special educators to work in culturally and linguistically responsive ways with children who are eventually placed in special education and, for the most part, with the aim of moving them towards access to and full participation within the general education curriculum as soon as possible.