It is no surprise that many school systems still follow a one-size approach.....even when inclusion and diversity are at the top of most discussions, right?
BUT it does not mean that YOU, the teacher or administrator, have to still think in the traditional sense of meeting vs not meeting. I get it- so many of our inclusive systems are still practicing Special Education. When Inclusive Education started to gain traction internationally, it was in response to challenging segregated Special Education settings. So, It is easy to see why so many of us continue to view Inclusive Education as a means to include the more vulnerable populations.
However, we are now at another destination in our journey. It is time to start thinking of inclusion as an approach to how we educate, how we build communities, and how we interact collaboratively. In order to do so, we need to see difference as normal and students as students (NOT as a label or diagnosis).
Step outside of the 'box' and thank about how you can apply Inclusive Pedagogy into your educational setting:
- What does it look like? - What does it mean for you? - How can it shape your classroom? - How can it shape your practice? - What can you change in practice, when the BIG things are not easily changed?
It is time to match words with our actions
Inclusion often becomes 'repetition of exclusion'- in other words, all kiddos are included in the classroom, but are often excluded from participating in collaborative learning opportunities in the classroom due to the extent of differentiation in work.
We know that Inclusion is an approach to community, both large and small. We know that Inclusion is about everyone as individuals and as part of a community. Also, we know that Inclusion is a process or a journey- it needs to a principled approach that we all take.
Here are some simple things you can start tomorrow:
- Teach to the child: children are not labels, children belong to many groups, and all children want to learn.
- Provide opportunity for self-assessment: it allows students to reflect on their learning journey by seeing how far they have come.
- Teacher-learner Relationship: connect and build relationships with your students. I cannot stress the importance of relationships.
- Consistency: set clear expectations and routines. Take out the surprises for your students. Once you establish consistent expectations and routines, you can easily adjust the demands for each kiddo based on their uniqueness.
- UDL: check out the principles of Universal Design for Learning- great starting point for thinking about setting up you learning space.