Embarking on self-improvement requires no celebratory facades. Many people treat a new year or turning a year older as reasons to set goals. Honestly though the reason does not matter. The desire to change for the better proves much more important. Becoming a more inclusive-minded person stands one way to improve. Who better than Think Inclusive then to help you think more inclusive?! Enjoy these 12 ways to think more inclusively.
The following lists only 12 ways to think more inclusive and does not intend to act as a “Top Ways” or “Best Ways” list. Items go in no particular order.
Acknowledge the Individual, Not the Diagnosis
A person becomes forever linked with their diagnosis but remember the person and diagnosis remain two separate entities. So you taught or tutored one autistic student before. That does not mean what spelled success with that one student will work with your next autistic student. Adjust your approach to the individual learner.
Tune into The Inclusive Class Podcast
Parent and teacher Nicole Eredics along with her co-host Terri Mauro produce a great weekly podcast on inclusion. Through their weekly dialogues you will continue to grow your knowledge. Make sure to take time and visit their show archive.
Work as a Team
Author and motivational speaker Brian King recently appeared on The G.I.M.P. (Gifted, Intelligent, Motivating, People) Show Podcast, a podcast for the special needs community hosted by Handicap This Productions’ Tim Wambach and Mike Berkson. During the appearance Brian King dished great insights on how parents can approach teachers to best facilitate teamwork. He also explained how both parents and teachers can learn from a student’s own resourcefulness. Listen by clicking the above link.
Read books and not only textbooks! Spending time with memoirs by authors with disabilities can spark ideas. Getting perspective from a person with a disability that lived what you currently experience may cause you to stumble upon an idea otherwise gone unexplored. Plus you can always try to contact the author to get his or her advice on your specific situation. How many reply may surprise you!
Maintain Expectation Levels
While speaking about authors, one specifically shared some great thoughts on inclusion in the following Youtube video.
The way John W. Quinn (Someone Like Me: An Unlikely Story of Challenge and Triumph Over Cerebral Palsy) defines inclusion addresses a huge misconception. Inclusion involves lowering standards. If anything, that proves detrimental to the process! An interview I did with intervention specialist Kelsey Kimmel for The Mobility Resource demonstrated this in an educational setting. During the interview Kimmel described how by maintaining expectation levels, her students felt challenged, leaving them to reach new milestones academically.
Can you find a better teacher than experience? Positioning yourself in situations to gain said experience will make you more inclusive-minded. Allow me to give you a personal example. I volunteer weekly at the Euclid Adult Activities Center, a Cuyahoga County Board of Developmental Disabilities facility. Through my interactions with their clients there I gain experience working with individuals with intellectual disabilities. Simply put I know how to interact with such individuals now where before I admittedly would feel unsure.
Implement Multiple Mediums into Lesson Plans
Even individuals without IEPs learn differently. Some prefer visuals while others thrive off audio cues and others by writing. Combining multiple channels into one lesson makes lessons more inclusive for all.
Learn How Each Student Learns Best
A tip intervention specialist Anshawn Ivery mentioned when I interviewed him for The Mobility Resource will assist in formulating the most effective lesson plans. At the start to each school year he meets with his students to learn about them, asking questions like “What do you hope to get out of this class?” and “How do you learn best?” He suggested doing this for all students, not just ones with IEPs.
Encourage Common Interests
Inclusion starts with integrating students with disabilities into the general education classroom. However inclusion excels after a belonging environment emerges. Common interests help to lay a foundation for this. Seek extra-curricular activities which can bring common interests to the forefront. As a result you will find whatever differences exist between the student and her peers will fade to the background.
Hang Anti-Bullying Messages Around the Classroom
A belonging environment means a bully-free environment. Back when I interviewed anti-bullying speaker Tony Bartoli for Think Inclusive he advised hanging student made anti-bullying posters around the classroom. Such posters provide dual purpose. First they allow students to consume the anti-bullying message. Secondly, the posters constantly remind students to treat peers with respect.
Practice Social Situations
Many people take with ease the ability to navigate different social situations, albeit in the cafeteria at lunch or moving around the hallways before or after school. Certain disabilities can make what many take with ease extra challenging. Rehearsing such situations works to make these situations easier for everyone. Louisiana Autism Spectrum and Related Disorders (LASARD) Project coordinator Julie D. Riley delved into the rehearsal strategy in the Think Inclusive piece I wrote based off an interview with her.
Become a Think Inclusive Member
If you enjoy the Think Inclusive website, know the experience gets even better by becoming a Think Inclusive member! Membership perks include exclusive content from our sponsor Brookes Publishing Company, a 30-minute consultation with our founder Tim Villegas (either by Skype, phone, or email), ad-free browsing, complete access to the Think Inclusive archives (three years and counting), and a curated online newsletter. Membership perks will only grow too. For instance, sometime this year Kids Included Together (KIT) will start providing membership exclusive content too. Click here to learn more about becoming a Think Inclusive member.
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