Differences can create barriers for students, but they can also create opportunities.
When students are separated at school based on their abilities, it hinders the learning process for all students. Every child should be allowed to reach their full potential and be included in the classroom.
Inclusive education is an approach that fosters diversity and equity. Ensuring that children are able to access education and learn well is something that is built into the mission of School Is Easy (SIE). In this article, we’ll define inclusive education, and dive into the principles, benefits, and practical implementation strategies of this approach.
What is inclusive education?
To define inclusive education, UNICEF says it is a way to ensure all children are given fair treatment. Essentially, it means that all students of the same age at the same school are in the same classroom. There is no separation of students, rather, children with disabilities are fully welcomed into the classroom and given the opportunity to contribute and learn like everyone else.
Inclusive education is built upon some core principles, including respect, equity, diversity, inclusion, human rights, and justice. However, the movement goes beyond physical accessibility to a classroom and encompassing diverse learning needs, the larger goal is social integration.
Key Components of Inclusive Education
There are various components of inclusive education that can be used to create a welcoming classroom, such as:
Bringing students with different abilities into the same class means the curriculum needs to be adapted. However, that does not mean changing the content of what is taught, but it changes how the lessons are done. This means the material is more accessible to all students in the class.
Developing an adapted curriculum may require changing the learning environment to be more accessible to students in the class. It starts by understanding the challenges students in the class face, and considering how to make the material and lessons more inclusive. It may also mean adjusting how students are assessed to ensure fairness.
Diverse teaching methods
Educators draw from several techniques to cultivate an inclusive education for students. These include adjusting the course materials to include different viewpoints and perspectives, ways to help children learn to accept and respect others from different backgrounds, and developing rules and guidelines that will govern interactions among students.
It can also mean providing some extra support to help students with the course material. This could be some extra time instructing a student or allowing some technology tools in the classroom to facilitate learning. Asking students for feedback can be a great way to create discussion in the classroom and uncover ways to help each student feel included.
Developing inclusive learning in a school also means considering the accessibility of the classroom and the building. This goes deeper than just ensuring students are able to access the classroom. Some students may have sensory issues that need to be considered in the layout or plan of a school and classroom. Other students may have some cognitive challenges that require a unique approach to helping them feel at home in a school. All of these elements need to be considered by educators looking to foster inclusive learning.
Essentially, schools and teachers who are looking to build an inclusive education experience for students should keep in mind the importance of individualized support and collaborative teaching approaches.
Creating an Inclusive Classroom Environment
When it comes to developing a welcoming and respectful classroom atmosphere, there are practical strategies that educators can use that foster inclusivity, such as addressing different learning styles and student needs. These include:
Be clear with students about what is expected. This means instructing them on acceptable behavior in the classroom.
Consequences for inappropriate behavior need to also be made clear to students, and teachers need to follow through with the consequences. Leading a class of diverse students means everyone needs to see that there is fair treatment for all.
Cultivate listening skills
Allow all students an opportunity to have a voice in the classroom. Whether it is answering questions or making suggestions, educators should model good listening skills to students and encourage all kids to speak up.
Changes that benefit everyone
There are some changes that teachers can make in a classroom or in the presentation of material that can benefit every student. These changes can vary depending on grade level and unique classroom challenges, but it include thinking outside the box and considering things from a student’s perspective.
Cultivate a peaceful atmosphere
All students can benefit from a calm workspace. It means less distractions, less unnecessary noise, and a better ability to focus on learning. Educators should encourage a quiet and peaceful atmosphere to help bolster inclusivity.
The Role of Collaboration
Cultivating inclusive education in a school environment requires collaboration among educators, students, parents, and support staff. Ensure that everyone is working together for the benefit of the students. Each child is unique and there may be some adaptations that parents or support staff have for educators.
These should be carefully considered and implemented if possible. It’s also important that teachers communicate with parents about struggles in the classroom, and also share student successes so they can be celebrated as a team. Collaboration enhances the implementation of inclusive practices while ensuring holistic student development.
What Are the Benefits of Inclusive Education?
In determining what is inclusive education, it’s vital to consider the benefits to students, from improving academic results to building social skills. Here are some of the top benefits of inclusive education:
- Builds on children’s strengths and allows them to develop their talents
- Encourages and supports students to reach academic goals
- Involves teamwork in helping a child be successful in school
- Cultivate respect and understanding among children
- Help children develop friendships and social skills
- Inclusive learning boosts self-confidence, communication, and teamwork skills
- Introduces various learning tools into a classroom, which can improve learning for every student
- Allows teachers to develop relationships and connections with students
Fostering Inclusive Education with Expert Support from SIE
Creating an inclusive education environment is a positive step toward celebrating diversity and cultivating equity, and some diverse children need a little extra support to succeed in the classroom. SIE offers several solutions for these students, from courses in English as a Second Language (ESL), to Special Education Tutors, SIE can help. Our skilled tutors know how to ensure a student adjusts and excels in an inclusive education setting.