Lawrence Joseph Ruich Profile Image
Lawrence Joseph Ruich
Visiting Professor
W.W. Wright Education Building Room 3272
Phone : (812) 856-8126
Send me an e-mail
Department:  Curriculum and Instruction
Affiliations:  Special Education , Secondary Education , IUconnectED


I supervise teacher candidates in their early field practicum and student teaching. I teach a variety of undergraduate and graduate level courses related to General and Special Education: Introduction to Special Education, Instructional Strategies, Assessment, Classroom Management and Community, and an Introduction to EBD. The majority of courses provide an online and face-to-face instructional format for candidate access. I also serve as a program coordinator for our graduate level certificate and masters program and advise both undergraduate and graduate level candidates seeking a teaching license in Special Education.


Research and Program Development

The need for special education teachers has never been more pressing. As an educator in the field of special education, I have spearheaded several studies pertinent to teacher preparation and the field of emotional and behavioral disorders (EBD). My early research offered an investigation of the ways prospective teachers interact with their mentors during the process of becoming a teacher in the preparation teacher program, Community of Teachers (CoT) at Indiana University. This was followed with an examination of the narratives of teacher candidates in their field setting. At this time, I was able to secure funding to study students at the elementary level with EBD in a multi-age, self-contained setting. The utilization of digital photography made the case that the visual arts can serve both as a means for students to document, connect with, and participate in their school and outlying community. These foundational projects informed the path of my dissertation research.

In 2007, Indiana University received a 325T grant entitled Special Educators for Indiana’s Schools Today (SPEDFIST) from the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs. As a doctoral candidate, I served as project coordinator working alongside key faculty and doctoral students. A central focus of the grant centered on the redevelopment of our graduate certification and master’s degree curriculum in special education. To guide the process, we utilized the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) standards to identify gaps and overlaps in course and fieldwork of our graduate program. The infusion of evidence-based practices throughout the curriculum while redesigning the program was essential to prepare effective teachers. As a means to make our program accessible, we revised the program to include an online (hybrid) model, which allowed us to connect with candidates at a greater distance from campus. Throughout this process, we conducted evaluations to inform our efforts and progress. In my current role, I continue to counsel and support graduate level candidates.


Current and Future Goals

It is my belief that research of this nature is essential in order to ensure that effective personnel preparation programs are re/examined and re/developed. Because of my doctoral preparation and continued practice, I am uniquely qualified and prepared to address program development, accreditation, online instruction, portfolio building, and teacher preparation. I look forward to the opportunity to continue to do this kind of research and development work in the field of special education.


A critical factor related to special education teacher shortages is the working conditions of special educators, particularly those who teach students with EBD and severe and profound disabilities, including significant intellectual disabilities. As a follow-up to my role as project coordinator, I am currently involved in the writing of a 325K grant proposal. The project intends to provide a high-quality online (hybrid) personnel preparation program for homegrown teachers of students in self-contained settings, targeting the needs of special educators in rural underserved schools. We are mobilized to establish a statewide networking infrastructure to support collaboration and make resources more accessible for all key stakeholders in the lives and education of students with disabilities, ultimately improving sustainability for teachers and families.


Lastly, I have always been interested in the experience of identity formation, specifically as it relates to examining concepts of marginalization or stigma within a seemingly normative setting. Preventing mental illness, supporting families, and improving educational and social outcomes, especially for young people with emotional and behavioral challenges, are core goals of my work that examines political and ethical issues involving disabled young people and schooling. This includes a research interest that addresses social, cultural, and historical understandings of disability, learning disabilities, and inclusive education. Furthermore, I am personally curious about several issues: a) why teachers choose to teach students with EBD, b) why do they remain in the field, c) what is the underlying intention about affecting the lives of others, and d) what is the perspective of the teachers who work with students with EBD. Such inquiries and their answers may provide insight on predictive teacher qualities, help design preparation programs or develop institutional, democratic structures that are supportive of retaining educators in the field. Such insights are important to me as a teacher educator.



    PhD, Special Education: Indiana University Bloomington, Indiana

    MA, History: Purdue-Calumet University, Hammond, Indiana
    BA. Photography: Columbia College, Chicago, Illinois

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