Introduction to Special Education Resource Rooms

Teacher congratulates math student
John Moore/Getty Image News

Resource room is a separate setting, either a classroom or a smaller designated room, where a special education program can be delivered to a student with a disability, individually or in a small group. Resource rooms are used in a variety of ways ranging from instruction, homework assistance, meetings, or representing students' alternative social space.

Resource Room vs. Least Restrictive Environment

According to IDEA (Individual with Disabilities Educational Improvement Act), children with disabilities are to be educated in the "least restrictive environment," which means they are to learn alongside children without disabilities to the maximum extent possible.

However, remaining in the same space as general education students may be at times difficult or less than beneficial for students with disabilities, and it is in those cases that they are brought to the resource rooms.

IDEA states that this removal, which is labeled as "restrictiveness," should only happen when the student's education in regular classes, despite the use of "supplementary aids and services cannot be achieved satisfactorily."

Sometimes, this form of support is called Resource and Withdrawal or "a pull-out." The child getting this type of support will receive some time in the resource room—which refers to the withdrawal portion of the day—and some time in the regular classroom with modifications and/or accommodations—which represent the resource support in the regular classroom. This type of support helps ensure that the "least restrictive environment" or the inclusional model is still in place.

Purpose of Resource Room

Resource room is both for students who qualify for special education services or for general education students who need some special instruction in an individualized or small group setting for a portion of the day. Individual needs are supported in resource rooms as defined by the student's Individual Education Plan (IEP).

Students come or are pulled to the resource room for a variety of reasons. Most commonly, they come there to access the educational materials in a manner that better suits their learning styles and capabilities.

Sometimes, the regular classroom can be noisy and full of distractions, and the students come to the resource room to be better able to focus and take in the material, especially when new information is being introduced.

At other times, the material taught in the general education classroom is above the student's level and the resource room serves as a more serene place where the student can go over the material at a slower pace.

The resource room has almost always a maximum ratio of five students to one teacher, and students often find themselves working with a teacher or a paraprofessional one on one. This heightened attention helps students focus better, be more engaged, and understand the material more easily.

Other Uses of Resource Rooms

Very often, students also come to the resource room to be assessed and tested, whether for their special needs or any other academic exams, as the resource room provides a less distracting environment and thus a better chance at success. Regarding special needs testing, to determine special education eligibility, a child is re-evaluated every three years, and in most cases, the reevaluation happens in the resource room.

Many resource rooms also support the social needs of their students, as the small group setting is less threatening, and students who sometimes fall on the outskirts of the general education classes are more willing to step out of their comfort zones and make friends.

The resource room also more readily provides opportunities for behavior interventions, and teachers frequently coach students on their social skills, often by helping them take on leadership responsibilities, such as helping another student learn.

Very often, the resource room also serves as a meeting place for IEP evaluations. Teachers, paraprofessionals, parents, students, and any legal representatives typically spend well over 30 minutes discussing the specificities of the student's IEP, reporting on how the student is currently doing in all aspects outlined in the plan, and then revise any sections as needed.

How Long Is a Child in the Resource Room?

Most educational jurisdictions have time increments that are allocated to the child for resource room support. This will sometimes vary based on the child's age. Often, 50% of a student's academic time is a mark not frequently crossed. It is very rare for a child to spend more than 50% of their day in the resource room; however, they may indeed spend up to 50% of their time there.

An example of allocated time could be a minimum of three hours a week in time increments of 45 minutes. In this way, the teacher in the resource room is able to concentrate on the specific area of need with some consistency.

As children gain more maturity and self-sufficiency, the resource room support changes with them. There are resource rooms in elementary, middle, and high schools, but sometimes the support in high school, for example, may take on more of a consultative approach. Some older students feel a stigma when they go to the resource room, and teachers try to make the support as seamless for them as possible.

The Teacher's Role in the Resource Room

Teachers in the resource room have a challenging role as they need to design all instruction to meet the specific needs of the students they serve to maximize their learning potential. The resource room teachers work closely with the child's regular classroom teacher and the parents to ensure the support is indeed helping the student reach their full potential.

The teacher follows the IEP and takes part in the IEP review meetings. They also work very closely with other professionals and paraprofessionals to support the specific student. Usually, the resource room teacher works with small groups students, helping one on one when possible, even though there are frequent occasions when the special education teacher follows one or multiple students in their classes and assists them directly there.

Sources