Friday, 12 April 2013

Let’s look at Inclusive Classrooms…what does that mean?  Dyslexia Dublin CETC © 2013

The definition might suggest many things. Let’s take a look - Including or covering all the services, facilities, or items normally expected or required.

The definition of inclusive education is… ‘Inclusive education is a process whereby the school systems, strategic plans and policies, adapt and change to include teaching strategies for a wider more diverse range of children’.
Equality and diversity that encompasses all and is not rigid, it can move with the times.

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Students are those with a physical disability or specific learning need and would be better placed in main stream education and we could say all students in education would benefit from an inclusive learning environment...
Making an Inclusive Classroom effective  and areas that breed successful integration:

• Allow all Students the opportunity to be active, not passive, learners. Interaction can be aided by skilful teaching… if a nervous student gives part of an answer, help them to expand or maybe add some suggestions and make sure the answer is acknowledged… either verbal recognition or on the whiteboard.

• All students should be encouraged to make choices as often as practical/possible. A good teacher will allow students some time to flounder, as some of the most powerful learning stems from taking risks and learning from mistakes.

• Feedback from parents is as important, as not all students will tell you how they feel about their learning experience.
• Trust is a big one… go slowly as you move towards the inclusive teaching practice and allow students to feel comfortable about the new style of learning. Discipline is still required to hold this together.
•Students with disabilities must be free to learn at their own pace and resource for note taking and readers for exams needs to be in place. Make sure you have a comprehensive course folder (this is so important for supply teachers coming in).
•All students need to taste success… lesson plans and learning objectives need to be very relevant and attainable with targets that are measurable.
Front load courses where possible, as students become jaded towards the end of the terms and academic year.
Facilitator first, Teacher second:
The role needs to reflect an interested partner that is in the room to inspire and encourage learning to take place. This is achieved by structuring lessons that flow freely and are full of interaction between students and facilitator/ teacher, keeping the class manageable and on course and in line with the syllabus by accurate and relevant questioning. Encourage by giving a slightly incomplete answer to a scenario and getting the students to add to or give alternative answers.

Always take into account learning styles that will cover all learners in the group and if not in one lesson, some rotation to stimulate all learners. Use the board freely and take a back seat on occasions and allow students to present their findings… start to use micro groups to research pieces of work and then pull this altogether and give an evaluation of the task. Use brain dumps and let them go for break after they have written on the board or answered a question. This acts as a little treat and stimulates responses from all in the group.

If resources are tight maybe you could get some help from a panel of parents/parents association to make this more achievable.
How would I recognise an Inclusive Classroom?
The room would include lots of visual resources and have an active/positive feel to it. Furniture in micro groups or horse shoe to make the students feel part of the group… lots of large and small group activities built into the lesson plan.
Observation of a range of exercises that will encompass all lesson styles with students actively involved… role play is a great way to stimulate learning.
Interactive whiteboard with suitable software and a teacher that occasionally sits back and lets the students take turns to direct class.
The students are all informed of the session/lesson aims.
Sessions are well planned to keep students engaged… allows the learners at all levels to gain knowledge from the session.
Class rules are a great idea if agreed at the start of the year/term… let them feel part of the decision making process:
1) Acceptable noise level
2) Time keeping
3) Use of toilets and hygiene
4) Tidying classroom and work areas
5) Temperatures (this will vary from child to child) - try to strike a happy medium.
6) Anti-Bullying
7) Mentor for new students
8) Buddy system for someone who misses a lesson
It is important that learning is constantly checked… random sampling of homework should take place on a regular basis… brain dumps (encourage students to answer questions based on lesson content at the end of lesson). The whiteboard can be used for this.
Keep an eye on quality during the early days of transition and don’t give up… It WILL work!

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