Special Education Classrooms: The Pros and Cons of Each Learning Environment (2023)

Special education services have changed and evolved over the years, but what exactly does it mean to have a student in a special education classroom? Well, that's right, there is no one-size-fits-all answer: special education is very individual and adaptable.

For educators and parents alike, learning about the options can be the best way to see where a student might best thrive. The most common special education settings areinclusion classes,resource spaces, Yindependent classrooms. Each of them looks and works very differently, but has its own advantages and disadvantages.

Inclusive or co-taught classroom

The term "inclusion" has become a buzzword in the world of education, especially in recent years. Inclusion means thatIn the same classroom there are general education and special education students., but this varies from program to program at each school. It is increasingly popular forInclusive classes are taught together, which means there are two licensed teachers in the room: one with a general education degree and one with a special education degree. The purpose is to provideStudents with Individualized Education Plans (IEPs)the adjustments and modifications they need to better learn grade level content alongside their general education peers.


  • Inclusion is a wonderful message that needs to be promoted! Students see firsthand that not everyone learns in the same way.
  • A successful inclusive classroom has different levels of academic tasks that allow everyone to learn, whether students have an IEP or not.


  • From a teacher's point of view, we don't always get to choose our co-teacher. Sometimes when two lead teachers don't know each other or don't work together, it can create tension or create an uncomfortable learning environment for students.
  • When listings are made, the number of students with IEPs is taken into account, but generally not their severity. For example, having 5 students with IEPs for mild ADHD is very different than having 5 students with IEPs for moderate autism. If the demands are too high, two teachers may not be enough and other students may be distracted by the chaos that can ensue in the room. These students may receive better help in an isolated classroom; more on that below.

Special Education Classrooms: The Pros and Cons of Each Learning Environment (2)

(Video) Difference Between Self-Contained And Inclusion Classrooms | Special Education Decoded

Credit:the saxon writer

resource spaces

Resource rooms are the least restrictive option for a student receiving special education services. resource spacesProvide a space for students to spend time with a special education teacherto improve the concepts they learn in general or inclusive education. Students have extra time for assessments, can ask clarifying questions, and focus on IEP goals that may require a little more TLC.

Depending on their grade level or school structure, a student may still follow their daily schedule, but under the resource room model, one of their assigned hours during the day would be a "resource room" rather than an elective. As teachers, we are not always with students in their math or English lessons, but we use resource time to step in and help with those subjects. In order for a student's assigned resource room teacher to help with assignments for other classes, teachers need to communicate what work is being done in each of their classes and how best to support that student.


  • As the least restrictive environment, the resource room is a great support for students with mild needs (attention deficit, learning disabilities, dyslexia, etc.). It can be a great first step for students who need housing while spending most of the day in general education.
  • The Resource Room allows students to explore what works best for their learning and what they can doadd another teacher to your support team, his teacher from the resource room.


  • Sometimes the resource room is not enough as a first step for students.
  • Besides,The resource room looks different at each school.. Due to school funding and resources, the resource room may be structured differently. For example, some schools have their own resource room, which can be a calm and quiet environment, but others use the hallway or alcove as a small group retreat, which is not always private or free from distractions.
  • As teachers in a resource room, we may see different behaviors than students exhibit in their other classes. For example, students may tell their teacher in the resource room that they don't have work to do or that they are up to date, but that is not always the case.And when a resource room teacher isn't collaborating with a student's other teachers on work that needs to be done between classes, students may not take responsibility for assignments.

Autonomous classrooms

Self-contained classrooms are the most restrictive environment in a public school for students. Independent means thatEvery student in the class has an IEP.. The ratio of students to teachers and teaching assistants varies according to the severity of the students' needs. For example, a 12:1:1 classroom means 12 students, 1 teacher, and 1 paraprofessional. A class with this ratio may consist of students with academic needs rather than behavioral needs. A 6:1:2 class is typically for students with moderate to severe physical or behavioral needs; Small group or individual lessons often take place in these classrooms. Self-contained classrooms could also house language, OT, or PT instruction, as well as adaptive classroom equipment.

(Video) Special Education: Everything You Need to Know

An important consideration for a self-contained classroom practice is that it can transform a student's path to graduation. Alternative revisions areheavily modified assessments that students must take instead of standard state tests. These vary by state and are generally awarded to students with moderate and severe disabilities.

Alternately tested students are generally placed in self-contained classrooms for at least part of their day. Upon completion of high school, they become students who complete alternate assessments.Earn a certificate of completion instead of a traditional high school diploma. However, students who take the standard state tests are still eligible for a high school diploma when they graduate from high school. Additionally, all students have until age 21 or 22 (depending on the state) to earn these degrees in a public school.

Self-contained classroom placement and pathways to completion are discussed at IEP meetings and require parental consent prior to placement.


  • The independent classrooms can be customized to a great extent.
  • These classrooms always have as few students as possible and as many teachers/assistants as possible who can only help students with homework.
  • Self-contained classrooms are generally best suited for students with high behavioral demands or more severe disabilities. They can be a great help to students who need support with life skills, job skills, transition skills, and social skills.


  • Because self-contained classrooms are extremely specialized, they cannot covercommon core standardsor state testing requirements and, depending on the program, can push a student off the path to high school.
  • Students have the least contact with their peers in the area of ​​inclusion or general education. While this is not a "con" in all scenarios, it is an important consideration for teachers and parents during the mediation process.

Although IEPs strive to place students in the least restrictive learning environment, many factors come into play when it comes to helping a student learn as well as possible. In general, the more special education services that are available in your school district, the better!

(Video) The Inclusion Classroom: An Inclusive Education Movement

It is important that students and their families work together to find the right level of support for them at their school.Ultimately, educators and parents have a common goal, which is to help our students be as successful and independent as possible. WhomFrom Frenaly, we also share this goal! Our mission is to emphasize the importance of students leading more independent lives through ours.Revolutionary software that prioritizes the development of each studentuse it and provide each person with a unique and meaningful educational experience. Like IEPs and specialized classroom settings, FrenalyticsEDU aims to prioritize personalization and independence.

teachers across the countryUse FrenalyticsEDU inInclusive classrooms, resource rooms and autonomous classrooms. Interactive learning sessions can beran as the whole class, independently or in small groups, making it extremely beneficial for educators. It can also be implemented as homework and accessed by family members, which benefits parents and guardians. Finally, FrenalyticsEDU is designed to meet the student at their academic level and present it to them in a game that makes learning fun. FrenalyticsEDU understands the wide variety of special education classrooms and works with educators and families to create a single software platform to improve retention, teach life skills, collect data, and report results.

Editor's Note: We take pride in the content we publish on our blog, and while we do our best to provide reliable information, this should not be construed as legal, educational, or medical advice for a student's diagnosed or suspected learning disability. This article does not necessarily represent the opinion of Frenalytics or its affiliates.

About Frenalytics

FrenalyticsEDUis a proprietary cloud-based interactive platform designed to personalize the learning process for students with special learning needs, including autism and Down syndrome. HeThe first release of Frenalytics was created by CEO Mattafter her grandmother suffered a massive stroke during open-heart surgery. Designed by educators for educators, FrenalyticsEDU helps students learn life skills and academic concepts in a fun and engaging way, and helps teachers and parents easily measure IEP goals through our interactive progress dashboards.

Want to see how FrenalyticsEDU is helping students with special needs to live more independently?
Click here to learn more, or call us at (516) 399-7170.

(Video) Top 10 Self-Contained Classroom Secrets | Special Education Decoded

Try FrenalyticsEDU for free!

About the Author

Special Education Classrooms: The Pros and Cons of Each Learning Environment (5)

Jen Gentile, MSEd, began working with the special needs community in 2008 in a variety of roles includingBest friendsYLager A.N.C.H.O.R, before entering theTeach for the America Corps in San Diego, CAin 2018. As a teacher at Escondido High School in Escondido, CA,Jen is committed to expanding FrenalyticsEDU as a personalized learning tool for her students.with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Down Syndrome and other complex intellectual disabilities. Back in New York now, Jenjoins the Frenalytics team as a special education consultantwhile simultaneously working with students as a fifth grade special education teacher at Valley Stream Central High School.

Get in touch with Jens:jen@frenalytics.com

(Video) Special Education Classroom Behavior Management Tour


What are the pros and cons of special education classroom? ›

Pros Students receive a specialized approach to their education. Cons There's a potential for students to experience stigma. Pros Students receive access to resources they otherwise wouldn't have. Cons Integration of special education students and general education students may not work for all needs.

What are the cons of special education teaching? ›

The Top 10 Challenges of Special Education Teachers
  • Lack of appreciation. ...
  • Parent support. ...
  • Public support. ...
  • Paperwork. ...
  • Scheduling. ...
  • Training and supervising paraprofessionals. ...
  • Collaborating with general education teachers. ...
  • Data collection.
Feb 1, 2012

What are the pros and cons of an IEP? ›

Advantages and Challenges of an Individual Education Program
  • IEPs Can Be Confusing and Frustrating for Parents. ...
  • Parents Must Advocate for Their Child's IEP. ...
  • IEPs Provide Valuable Services and Supports. ...
  • IEPs Allow for the Least Restrictive Learning Environment. ...
  • IEPs May Not Always Be Followed in the Private School Setting.
Apr 29, 2021

What are the benefits of special needs classrooms? ›

Kids with special education needs who are in inclusive classes are absent less often. They develop stronger skills in reading and math. They're also more likely to have jobs and pursue education after high school. The same research shows that their peers benefit, too.

What type of classrooms are there for special education? ›

For both educators and parents, knowing the options can be the best way to see where a student might thrive best! The most common special education settings are inclusion classes, resource rooms, and self-contained classrooms.

What are the disadvantages of a negative classroom environment in teaching? ›

Negative classroom environment adversely affects children's mental health. Summary: Children in classrooms with inadequate material resources and children whose teachers feel they are not respected by colleagues exhibit more mental health problems than students in classrooms without these issues, finds a new study.

What are some pros about special education teachers? ›

Top 10 Reasons To Get A Special Education Degree
  • Special Education Is Meaningful and Rewarding. ...
  • Special Education Teachers Are in High Demand. ...
  • Special Education Teachers Receive Great Pay and Benefits. ...
  • Special Education is Experiencing Unprecedented Mobility. ...
  • A Special Education Degree Offers Many Career Paths.

What are the challenges of teaching children with disabilities in regular classrooms? ›

Inaccessible environments, lack of appropriate learning materials, shortage of qualified teachers and discrimination from peers are just some of the barriers they face. There are at least 93 million children with disabilities around the world — but too often education systems aren't equipped to meet their needs.

What are the pros and cons of labeling students with disabilities? ›

Click on an item in the set below to see more info.
  • Advantage #1: Identifying a Disability Helps You Help Your Student. ...
  • Disadvantage #1: Teachers Can Stereotype Students Based on the Label. ...
  • Advantage #2: By Law, Kids With Labels Have Access to Special Services. ...
  • Disadvantage #2: Special Education Services May Be Costly.

What are the disadvantages of inclusion for students with disabilities? ›

Cons of Inclusion in the Classroom
  • Less one-on-one attention.
  • Students can have trouble adapting.
  • Environment allows for more distractions.
  • Child may feel singled out.
  • Often paired with one-on-one aids that have little training.
Dec 21, 2021

What are the advantages of having an IEP for every student with special needs? ›

IEPs allow everyone involved to understand their next steps in the student's educational success. Specific action items are given to the student, parents, and teacher, allowing everyone to understand how they are expected to contribute.

What happens in a special education classroom? ›

In a special education classroom, students will want to know you are there to support their learning and will help them when the learning is challenging for them. You create accommodations and scaffolds to help them learn like a student without a disability.

How can we help the special needs students in the classroom? ›

Teaching Tips for Students with Special Needs
  1. Keep your classroom organized. ...
  2. Remember that each child is an individual. ...
  3. Give your students opportunities for success. ...
  4. Create a support network. ...
  5. Keep things simple.

How do you create an inclusive classroom in special education? ›

Making Classrooms Inclusive for Special Needs
  1. Review Individual Education Plans. ...
  2. Create a Safe Space. ...
  3. Consider How Students Interact With Their Environment. ...
  4. Differentiate Instruction. ...
  5. Rely on Your Fellow Teachers.

What are the different types of classrooms? ›

Classroom Styles and Teaching Pedagogies
  • Traditional Lecture (LEC) classrooms. ...
  • Breakout style (BRK) classrooms. ...
  • Discussion (DISC) or Seminar (SEM) style classroom. ...
  • Tiered (TIER) style classrooms. ...
  • Active Learning Style (ALS) classrooms. ...
  • Versatile Learning Space (VLS)

What are the 4 types of special education? ›

The above categories can be divided into cognitive, behavioral, physical, and emotional disabilities. Based on the child's area of need, specialized programming should be specifically designed to ensure successful access to the appropriate educational setting.

What is an inclusion classroom in special education? ›

An inclusive classroom is a general education classroom where students with and without learning differences learn together. Inclusive classrooms are welcoming and support the diverse academic, social, emotional, and communication needs of all students.

What is negative classroom environment? ›

In negative learning environments students may feel uncomfortable, confused, unsupported and afraid to make mistakes. This environment does not force students to “toughen up” or “put in more effort.” Instead, they are likely to judge the course or themselves negatively and become unmotivated or even quit.

What are the cons of classroom learning? ›

Classroom Learning Disadvantages:

Attendance times can be restrictive or inconvenient. Shy students may have trouble approaching the instructor with questions. You usually have to sit through each lecture even if you already know most of the material. You may be required to buy compulsory textbooks.

What is positive classroom environment? ›

What's a positive classroom environment? A positive classroom environment is one in which students feel comfortable sharing their thoughts, taking risks, asking questions and confronting challenges in their learning.

What are the 3 most important roles of a special education teacher? ›

Special education teachers typically do the following: Assess students' skills and determine their educational needs. Adapt general lessons to meet students' needs. Develop Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) for each student.

What is the most important thing in special education? ›

The key to inclusive special education programs is understanding and accepting students for who they are. This means not just helping them overcome their weaknesses but assisting them in finding and developing their talents too.

How effective are special education learners in a regular classroom? ›

Improved Academic Success

Research has shown that when special needs students are placed in traditional classes, their academic success improves.

What challenges do students with disabilities encounter in inclusive classroom settings? ›

Learning can be a challenge for any student, but it can be especially difficult for a student with a disability.
5 Problems Faced by Disabled Students in the Classroom
  • Insufficient Funding. ...
  • Inaccessible Conditions. ...
  • Lack of Individualization. ...
  • Troubled Communication with Peers. ...
  • Lack of Specialists.

What are the challenges faced by teachers in teaching students with disabilities? ›

The challenges covered by this article includes: Inadequate physical and financial resources, inadequate skills and knowledge/experience to handle serious challenges, improper implementation of inclusive education, Lack of incentives after training as a special education teacher, Lack of adequate support from both ...

What are the major challenges faced by children with special education needs? ›

This study has determined that inadequate funding to schools, long distance to schools, infrastructure not being user friendly, inadequate appropriate teaching and learning materials and most teachers having no skills to communicate with pupils with disabilities especially in sign language and braille were challenges ...

What type of challenges are faced by children with special needs? ›

Children with learning disabilities may have problems with Academics, social, home and emotional aspects. These problems they may over come through attending special education classes and parental attention.

What are the biggest challenges for students with disabilities? ›

Students with Disabilities: Most Common Barriers and Difficulties
  • Physical Inaccessibility. ...
  • Lack of Awareness. ...
  • Lack of Individualization. ...
  • Complex Accommodation Process. ...
  • Negative Attitude and Stereotypes. ...
  • Unavailability or Lack of Accessible Study Materials.

What are the disadvantages of learning disabilities? ›

Children with learning disabilities may become frustrated, lose interest in school, and avoid challenges. They may have low self-esteem and emotional problems, such as withdrawal, anxiety, depression, or aggression. It is also common for children with learning disabilities to have social problems.

What are the positive and negative effects of Labelling? ›

They aid people in understanding differences in needs, culture, and personalities. Labels can also reflect positive characteristics, set useful expectations, and provide meaningful goals. At the same time, labeling can create misunderstandings and stereotypes.

What are the cons of labeling? ›

Negative side effects of labeling include social stigma, lower expectations from peers and teachers, and self-fulfilling prophecy, a prediction that comes true, where the student begins to perform lower due to the expectations that he or she will perform badly.

What are the issues and benefits of special inclusive education? ›

Inclusive education benefits all students by providing them with an equal opportunity to learn and grow. It also helps to break down barriers between different groups of people and allows everyone to feel welcomed and valued in the educational setting.

What are the challenges faced in inclusive classroom? ›

Lacking experience in an inclusion setting. Lacking experience with severe and profound disabilities. Creating activities that include all students. Educating students with less severe disabilities.

What are the challenges and problems in implementing inclusive education in schools? ›

Premised on the findings of the selected studies, the challenges impeding the implementation of inclusive education include inadequate funding, poor attitude of the society, poor attitude of the parents of People Living With Disabilities (PLWD), inadequate infrastructure, inability to manage the increasing number of ...

What are 3 benefits to having an inclusive classroom special needs children? ›

Some of the benefits of inclusion for children with (or without) disabilities are friendship skills, peer models, problem solving skills, positive self-image, and respect for others. This can trickle down to their families as well, teaching parents and families to be more accepting of differences.

How do students with disabilities benefit from inclusion in a classroom? ›

Personalised learning and support. The goal of inclusion is to develop processes of personalised learning and support so that students with disabilities can engage in learning and schooling in the same way as their age-peers.

Why is it important we accommodate students with special needs? ›

Whether for instruction or testing, accommodations provide students with opportunities to achieve the same outcomes and to obtain the same benefits as students without disabilities. By addressing barriers, accommodations create better access to learning opportunities for students with disabilities.

What are disadvantages of an inclusive classroom? ›

Cons of Inclusion in the Classroom
  • Less one-on-one attention.
  • Students can have trouble adapting.
  • Environment allows for more distractions.
  • Child may feel singled out.
  • Often paired with one-on-one aids that have little training.
Dec 21, 2021

What are the disadvantages of classroom? ›

Classroom Learning Disadvantages:

Attendance times can be restrictive or inconvenient. Shy students may have trouble approaching the instructor with questions. You usually have to sit through each lecture even if you already know most of the material. You may be required to buy compulsory textbooks.

What are the factors that can affect the learning in an inclusive classroom? ›

Barriers to inclusive education
  • Attitudinal Barriers.
  • Physical Barriers.
  • Inappropriate Curriculum.
  • Untrained Teachers.
  • Inadequate Funding.
  • Poor Organization of the Education System.
  • Policies as Barrier.
Oct 9, 2015

What are the negative characteristics of classroom environment? ›

In negative learning environments students may feel uncomfortable, confused, unsupported and afraid to make mistakes. This environment does not force students to “toughen up” or “put in more effort.” Instead, they are likely to judge the course or themselves negatively and become unmotivated or even quit.

What are the advantages of a positive classroom environment in teaching? ›

Research tells us students learn better when they are part of a supportive community of learners. When you create a positive learning environment where students feel accepted, seen, and valued, they are more likely to persist in your course, in their majors, and at the university.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of pros and cons? ›

The pros and cons of something are its advantages and disadvantages, which you consider carefully so that you can make a sensible decision.

What are the problems when children of special needs are in regular classrooms? ›

Another potential drawback is that a special-needs child can easily get lost in a regular classroom. In some cases they may be disruptive and may compromise the learning environment of other students.


1. Positive Learning Classroom Environment
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2. Students with Disabilities: Special Education Categories
(Teachings in Education)
3. Classroom Inclusion Pros & Cons.pptx
(Linda Welker)
4. The Disadvantages of Inclusive Classroom | Jalloren, Leiza Mae
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5. Special Education Classroom Setup Ideas and Tips for New Teachers
(Noodle Nook)
6. Special Education Life Skills Math Classroom Routines


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