8 Effective Teaching Practices for Students in Inclusive Classrooms
The learning model in which children with special educational needs study together with their peers is becoming more and more popular every year. This causes inclusive classes to appear in almost every school. However, many teachers feel unequipped to teach children with special needs because they lack special knowledge of effectively including such kids into regular classes and creating the curriculum fit for every kid.
Today we will discuss general practices that can help teachers create the most comfortable conditions for inclusive learning.
Practices and Methods to Help Teachers Arrange Inclusive Education
1. Teach Students That Diversity Is The Norm.
Did you know that almost 13% of all children under the age of 18 in the US alone have special needs? This can result in over 9 million children having to struggle with anxiety and alienation from their classmates every day. This is why inclusive classrooms play a huge role in modern education – they can show kids of different backgrounds and abilities that being different and having unique features is not something unusual, or to be ashamed of or judged for.
Therefore, a teacher’s role is openly and honestly teaching about diversity, answering students’ questions, and nurturing their acceptance and respect towards others.
2. Teamwork at All Levels.
Adapting children with special educational needs into the classroom is not just a teacher’s concern – you can include parents, social workers, school psychologist, teacher’s assistant, or rehabilitation therapist into creating perfect learning conditions in an inclusive classroom.
Promoting teamwork among classmates is also important. After all, what exactly is inclusion? It is a common mistake thinking that it simply means teaching children with special educational needs in a regular school (which is integration). Instead, inclusion is an approach in which each student is a valued member of the team, regardless of their characteristics.
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3. Put Emphasis On Personal Strengths.
Inclusive education should concentrate on teaching kids with special needs not to compensate for their “deficiencies”, but instead to value their strengths. Such an approach is a lot more mentally healthy for all the children in the class, as it rejects a concept of universal “mold” each of them must fit within to be considered successful. In such conditions, students are more self-confident, have less fear of failure, are more engaged and interested in learning new things.
4. Practice “Scaffolding”.
Scaffolding is a process that lets children solve a problem, complete a task, or achieve a goal that is beyond their individual efforts or capabilities. This technique relies on the teacher’s help and support.
You can exercise different types of support:
- Verbal – it can be expressed via encouragement.
- Non-verbal – given via facial expressions, gestures, directions, body language, etc.
- Physical – via writing, drawing with a student.
5. Prepare a Behaviour Management Plan.
A classroom is a nurturing environment, but sometimes it can become a house to turmoil, disruptive behaviors, and quarrels that must be effectively resolved. To efficiently mitigate any potential incidents involving kids with special needs, it’s advised to consult their parents in advance, ask for their advice and methods they use. You should also make general rules of the classroom abundantly clear, possibly by displaying them in the classroom where they would be visually accessible for all students.
6. Utilize Visualization.
Children can learn regardless of their level of development, health conditions, etc. For instance, non-verbal children can greatly benefit from visualization. Kids with special needs often rely on visual perception, as it helps them better understand information. Teachers can achieve visualization with pictures, symbols, diagrams, pictograms instead of using plain text. Also, it has long been known how important visual forms of cognition are for children with hearing impairments and intellectual disabilities.
7. Practice Life Skills.
Many students with special needs have trouble performing simple tasks, like telling time from an analog clock, writing notes, organizing their study materials, etc. Such activities as cleaning out lockers and backpacks, organizing notes, and studying materials can break up the learning routine, become a fan pastime and bring the children together. You can dedicate a specific time in a week for practicing life skills, and as a result, your students will not simply be educated, but also prepared for practical tasks and in possession of essential organization skills that will greatly help them throughout their life.
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8. Implement UDL principles.
Universal Design for Learning redefines curriculum so that it is more flexible and tailored to children’s individual needs. To reduce barriers in learning, it is important to ensure that basic information is perceived equally by all students. This can be achieved by presenting topics in a variety of ways (for example, visually, with help of audio, etc). This way information is accessible to students with sensory and perceptual impairments, but also easier for all students to understand.
Conclusion about Inclusion
So, no matter what methods the teacher uses, it is important to convey: a person cannot be judged only by the lack of something. Even abilities and achievements are important contributions to the life of the class, but they cannot measure the value of a person. Because inclusion is when everyone matters.