The Special Education – Learning Disabilities program expands the basic elementary education program to prepare teachers to work with students with learning disabilities from kindergarten through grade 12. Program features include extended field experience in regular and special education settings, and focused development of the knowledge and skills critical for effective teachers.
Graduates are prepared for elementary-level teacher certification in Michigan, which permits individuals to teach in self-contained classrooms at grades K-8, and in all subjects at grade K-5, as well as a Learning Disabilities endorsement for grades K-12. Individuals may also qualify to teach the subject of an optional academic minor in grades 6-8.
Students begin their studies with a focus on general education requirements and elementary planned program coursework. If they opt for an academic minor this coursework also begins in year one. They complete the initial professional education coursework in their sophomore year, and apply for formal admission to the program at the end of that year. By that time, they will have also passed the Michigan Test for Teacher Certification Professional Readiness Examination.
Special education and upper-level professional education coursework, along with the completion of the elementary planned program and optional minor, are the focuses for the junior and senior years. Students in the special education program complete two semesters of student teaching, one in a regular elementary education setting and one in a special education setting. These experiences are normally in the fifth year of the program, depending on the individual student’s progress through the program. Generally, student teaching will be in the Eastern Upper Peninsula or in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. The Michigan Test for Teacher Certification Elementary Education and Learning Disabilities tests must be passed prior to beginning student teaching.
Note: Candidates who complete an optional minor and pass the Michigan Test for Teacher Certification subject test for that minor meet the requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act and are considered “highly qualified” for the subject area of the endorsement shown on their Michigan teaching certificates.
Clinical field experience is a hallmark of all programs in the School of Education. Students complete field experience hours as part of their professional education coursework, being placed at appropriate levels in area elementary schools, and secondary schools. Specific assignments and tasks are designed for these placements, which serve to integrate the classwork on campus and the experience in the field. This intentional design serves to strengthen students ability to learn from these experiences and to reflect on their professional development as an educator.
The School of Education is also committed to preparing teachers for small, rural schools, which have unique cultures and expectations. Many LSSU students are from smaller communities in the United States and Canada, and aspire to return to those communities (or similar ones) for their careers. Through partnerships with schools in the Eastern Upper Peninsula and in Ontario, School of Education students work closely with cooperating teachers in their clinical field experiences and in the culminating practicums and student teaching experiences. This further supports the preparation of effective teachers for the small school environment.