Inclusive Classroom: Definition, Strategies & Environment

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  • 0:01 Inclusion Defined
  • 0:33 Inclusive Environment
  • 1:55 Strategies for an…
  • 3:44 Collaboration Is Key
  • 4:43 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Derek Hughes
Creating and maintaining a successful inclusive classroom requires much thought and collaboration. This lesson will introduce the concept of inclusive classrooms and how you can make your classroom successful for inclusion.

Inclusion Defined

As more research is done into education and disabilities and how the two interact, general education teachers are finding themselves needing to teach in an inclusive classroom. An inclusive classroom is a general education classroom in which students with and without disabilities learn together. It is essentially the opposite of a special education classroom, where students with disabilities learn with only other students with disabilities.

There are a variety of strategies and techniques you can use to create a productive and successful inclusive classroom.

Inclusive Environment

Ms. Paz is a 4th grade elementary school teacher. For the last few years, her school has worked on adopting a co-teaching model of education in an effort to create more inclusive classrooms. In this model, there are two teachers working in the general education classroom, one who is certified in general education and one who is certified in special education.

Using a co-teaching model is a great way to create an inclusive environment in the general education classroom. Since there are two teachers, Ms. Paz and her teaching partner can focus on providing every student with the services and assistance they need to succeed. For example, Ms. Paz might teach a lesson while her partner moves around the room and provides assistance to individual students.

Another key aspect of an inclusive environment is accessibility. In Ms. Paz's classroom, she ensures that every student has access to the materials they need in order to learn. For example, one of her students has motor skills problems, so she always makes sure to keep a stock of special pencils for him. This accessibility extends to teaching and learning activities as well.

Finally, Ms. Paz creates an inclusive environment by ensuring that every student knows it is okay to struggle with something and that she and her co-teacher are there to help everyone learn. To do this, Ms. Paz encourages mistakes and reinforces students who always try their hardest, even if they sometimes struggle.

Strategies for an Inclusive Classroom

Equally important as creating an inclusive environment is using different teaching strategies to make learning accessible to every student. In an inclusive classroom, many students have a wide variety of educational needs. Therefore, having a large toolbox of instructional strategies can help you better serve every student.

For example, because students have different learning styles, Ms. Paz tries to present information in as many different ways as possible. To do this, she will teach using verbal cues, visual information, such as videos and pictures, and music, just to name a few. By presenting information in a variety of ways, students can receive information in their preferred learning style.

This also extends to assessment. Since Ms. Paz is presenting information in a variety of ways, it makes sense to allow students to demonstrate understanding in a variety of ways. For example, if a student does not have the writing skills to take a test, Ms. Paz will let him demonstrate learning through an oral presentation. Another student might prefer to learn visually, so this student can make a piece of art as their assessment.

Finally, Ms. Paz designs a lot of her activities to be completed in small groups. This helps students learn to collaborate while Ms. Paz moves around the room, providing help where it's needed. She can also pull aside individual students or groups to work more closely with them on a skill. This enables her to teach all students in a way that they can access the information.

However, it is important to remember that you must know your students before you can begin differentiating instruction to their needs and learning styles. Ms. Paz spends time at the beginning of every year getting to know her students through different activities. She has them write about themselves, talk about themselves, and meets with parents and previous teachers to learn all she can.

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