Overview

The Learning and Behavioral Specialist I (LBSI) program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign prepares highly qualified, innovative special education teachers.  At the end of this 4-year program graduates exit with a Bachelor of Science and a LBSI initial teaching license.  This license allows graduates to teach children ages 3 to 21 with any disability (e.g., learning disabilities, social or emotional disabilities, autism, intellectual disability, physical disabilities, multiple disabilities) in a range of educational settings.

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Unique Features of the Program

  • Concentrated Coursework – Teacher candidates complete general education requirements during their first 3 semesters at the University of Illinois. The last 5 semesters are devoted to intensive preparation in special education. Coursework focuses on research-based practices and emphasizes an inclusive approach to educating students with disabilities alongside their peers without disabilities.
  • Extensive Fieldwork – During the last two years of the program, teacher candidates participate in fieldwork (also known as “practicum”) 5 days a week across each semester. The amount of time spent in the field gradually increases each semester from 2 hours a day, to 3 hours a day, to 4 hours a day, and finally to the full day during the last semester of student teaching.  Fieldwork placements change each semester to provide candidates with experience working with students of diverse abilities and ages. A series of assignments are completed each semester of practicum.
  • Supervision and Mentoring – Each candidate is assigned a University Supervisor. This person observes the teacher candidate during practicum every other week, and meets individually with the candidate on a weekly basis to review assignments and provide feedback from observations.  Candidates also receive mentoring from Cooperating Teachers employed in the local schools, who work closely with University Supervisors and program staff to coordinate activities.
  • Seminar –Seminars are held weekly during the last two years of the program.  They focus on special topics, current research, and issues related to educating students with disabilities.
  • Extended Learning Opportunity – Candidates in the LBSI program have the option to pursue added expertise in working with students with severe disabilities (e.g., autism, intellectual disability, multiple disabilities).  This grant-funded program helps candidates develop expertise in this area through participation in an service-learning project with local high schools, externships with the Chicago Public Schools, and a research experience with faculty.  Candidates who participate in the extended learning opportunity have the option to student teach in the Chicago Public Schools.

FOR MORE INFORMATION

Please contact Dr. Stacy Dymond, Professor and LBSI Program Coordinator, at sdymond@illinois.edu.


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