Updated: Jun 22
By Rhonda Martinez
The idea behind inclusive classrooms presupposes that all the learners regardless of their background, status, or challenges they may have, acquire education in one environment by being placed in general education classes grouped by age.
Lots of studies have long proven that inclusive education brings a lot of advantages for students both with or without any learning challenges. It results in overall better performance, enhanced social skills and more friendships.
However, there is one ‘but’. In order to reap all the benefits of inclusive classroom learning, an educator is responsible for creating a flourishing environment and applying effective teaching practices that will lead to smart classroom management.
5 Tried and Tested Practices for Students in Inclusive Classrooms
In this article, we are about to discuss the 5 strategies that have proven to be efficient to apply in your inclusive classroom to have a positive effect on students.
Employ UDL While Structuring Lessons
UDL (known as ‘universal design of learning’) is a set of principles that outlines the idea that every person has their unique learning style and there should be opportunities open to every student to acquire knowledge in their individual manner. For this reason, the three main components of any lesson (Material Representation, Activities with Material, and Engagement) should be shaped in accordance with various students’ needs and challenges in order to create an effective learning environment.
In other words, when planning a lesson, one should think of several ways of presenting the material – visual as well as oral practices. When preparing activities, a teacher should employ a wide scope of them, taking into account students’ abilities, backgrounds, and learning styles, enabling them to choose writing, illustrating, speaking etc. Finally, to boost engagement, an educator should offer several means like videos, software, role-playing or others.
Remember that you don’t need to employ everything at the same lesson, or every lesson. It is about finding the golden medium that will work directly and specifically in your classroom environment.
Feel Free to Collaborate on a Regular Basis
Don’t hesitate to open your classroom to collaboration with special education teachers, paraprofessionals, related service providers and parents. By engaging in a productive talk, you can explore unique opportunities, broaden your horizons when it comes to shaping the curriculum, managing behavior and discovering some of pitfalls of working with these or those students. It would be a great idea to have common planning times. In case your institution doesn’t encourage such things, dedicate some of your personal time, but you will see that the results will be worth every minute spent.
But for collaborative planning, you can try out co-teaching with your partner, or with students. For example, alternative teaching is quite a common routine in Finnish schools. Alternative teaching presumes that one teacher works with a small group of a class, while the other works with the remaining students. In Finland, it is commonplace to have three teachers in the classroom: one works with those who are above the general curriculum, one with those who are well-apt at the general material, and one with those who are struggling. What is more, the group of students is constantly shaped, as one can start falling behind or otherwise sprint ahead.
Create a Behavior Management Plan
The moments with disruptive behavior are just indispensable and inevitable in the learning environment. For this reason, an educator should be prepared for such occasional incidents of aggression or talking out of turn to know how to deal with them.
First and foremost, have no doubts to discuss behavioral patterns of a student with their parents. As parents spend more time with their offspring, they may know some already working practices and strategies that may help to calm their kids down.
Secondly, research some of the techniques for managing distracting behavior and try them out to see what is working for your students. Here are some of the useful tips:
Have a set of classroom rules and expectations that are vividly displayed;
Develop a signal system to settling down for work, starting work, and quieting down;
Make sure you check in with students when they are working on something;
Encourage positive reinforcement when a student meets a behavioral or academic goal;
Think of behavioral contracting techniques.
Teaching Learning Strategies and Self-Analysis
It is essential for learners to understand the way they perceive information, the way they get engaged, and thus understanding their personal unique learning style. As a tutor, you should help your students by offering them various instructions on how to work with different materials and activities. It is a great idea to teach your students how to organize material, how to take notes, how to read, how to memorize information, and most importantly how to find one’s weak areas. Encouraging self-analysis is maybe the key to better skills, as it helps the learner to see what are their strengths and weaknesses, and in turn, they may learn how to organize their studying routine to get the best out of it.
Incorporate Life Skills Training
Last but not least, as you are dealing with an inclusive classroom, you are in fact dealing with the small version of our society. There are people from various backgrounds and with various abilities. For this reason, it is vital to support important life skills that will help your students to develop as strong and independent personalities. Both students with and without disabilities will benefit from such training.
Such things like telling time from an analog clock, or writing a simple letter may sound obvious. However, not all of the students are taught to do so. Cleaning out the backpacks, organizing books and notes, tidying a locker – are all life-essential skills your students will need, as they are all about self-organization and preparation.
By encouraging your students to develop these skills, you invest in them having good habits and being strong personalities.