At staff orientation this week, I was asked by my administrators to describe the impact I want to leave on the students of the school. How do I want the students to feel after interacting with me? The answer is simple- valued. I want all students to feel valued. I want them to feel included. I want them to feel important. And I want the students to know that they are all capable learners. My impact on students is that they are all expected to learn because I know they can!
The answer is so simple that I wondered why they even asked us that question. The difficulty is in the path to realizing my impact goal. How can I ensure all students, in my school community, feel valued? I picked valued as my single impact word because in an inclusive classroom all students are viewed as equal members in the community. All students are included appropriately, and all students are given the opportunity to be present in their learning and present in their school community in an inclusive classroom; as well, all students are able to achieve new learning and build on their strengths. When we give all our students the opportunity to learn and to grow, we let them know that we value them as a community member and as an individual. As one single teacher, how can I make this HUGE impact on my students and the rest of the students at our school?
The answer is not standard. However, there are a few simple things that all teachers can do in order to set up an inclusive classroom that allows for each student to feel valued. Inclusive teaching builds on the foundation that all students are included, heard, and all students are given a chance to fully participate in the learning process. In order to do this, we as teachers must acknowledge our bias, we must acknowledge the inequalities, and we must ask questions about the forces shaping our perceptions. To develop this level of awareness, it is imperative teachers take time to reflect on their practice, review the curriculum, and become more aware of the complexities of inclusive practices. A few questions must be considered when becoming an inclusive teacher:
Ensuring diverse perspectives are woven into your teaching
Creating an inclusive and welcoming class community for all
CONCRETE EXAMPLES THAT YOU CAN DO IN YOUR CLASSROOM TO BUILD AN INCLUSIVE CLASSROOM