No matter what way you look at it- school is different now than when you went to school.
What worked 20, 30, 40 years in a traditional school setting will not always work in today's inclusive classrooms.
This frustrating fact is enough to drive you mad- BUT you cannot let it (easier said than done, I know). There are enough things to worry about in education, do not overthink the areas you have no control over.
I know our buildings are old, our resources are limited, sometimes schools are not accessible to all students, and I know inclusion can seem in contra to jurisdictional policies. I also have to chuckle when I read about a Board's inclusion policies and supports in the Special Education manual.
The systems and the processes in place are not always on the same journey or in the same place in the journey- this is consistent across many areas. HOWEVER, this does not matter to our students. Our students, all our students, still deserve to have a fair education that is appropriate, high quality, and allows them to grow in all facets of education.
The goal of an inclusive classroom or school is that ALL kiddos will have access to the learning environment. All children should have fair opportunities at school that allow them to participate, succeed, and be present in the community. This does not and should not look the same for all students. Educators today have the responsibility of reducing barriers to education for all their learners. The norm is difference now.
Today's students should not be expected to learn in a one-size-fit-all environment- even if it says it is inclusive. So often, our schools and our curriculums are created based on the utilitarian idea of 'the greatest good for the greatest amount'. Well, inclusive systems are based on each and every individual as part of a community. The question becomes how do we retrain our brains and our practices to support all students (even when our systems are set up based on the greatest good principle).
A few things you can do to support all your learners in class:
1. Use classroom expectations consistently!
2. Shift your lessons from a delivery method into an exploration or a promotion of learning. Learning looks different to different learners!
3. Provide options, choice, and different entry levels to your activities.
4. Make materials and resources accessible to all your students (not just adults and some of your students).
4. Use multiple means of representing and expression (visuals, movement, written, verbal, et cetera).
5. Be accountable and present to all your students. It is easy to defer to specialists and support staff for some students, but don't- you are their teacher and they need you! Also, you need them- you will learn so much. Your bag of tricks and experience will grow with every student that challenges you.