Dr. Paula Kluth is a consultant, author and advocate who is passionate about providing inclusive opportunities to students with disabilities and improving learning experiences for all students. One of the recently posted readings on her website tackles the question of “Is your school inclusive?”
Dr. Kluth defines inclusive schooling as an educational movement that emphasizes both interdependence and independence, views all students as capable, and values community. Equity, justice, respect, and diversity are values that are integral to inclusive schooling. Inclusion requires more than concrete strategies; it is an attitude of embracing differences that affects everything that an educator does.
Inclusive schools need to have leadership committed to inclusivity, as the attitudes of administrative staff can be enabling or create barriers to inclusivity. Leadership can support teachers in risk taking and problem solving, as well as represent the inclusive character of the school to the community. Leaders impact school culture and can help it to be supportive rather than competitive or rigid.
Democratic classrooms are another important part of inclusive schools. In these spaces, student voices are respected along with those of all members of the school community, and they have the opportunity to share in rule setting and curriculum creation. Curriculum should relate to students’ real-life needs and interests! Students can also contribute to their classroom environment, for example by helping to select what is displayed.
Teachers in inclusive schools should be reflective and responsive. Responsive instruction involves creating opportunities for students with diverse learning needs.
To learn more about specific ways to put inclusive schooling into practice, read Dr. Kluth’s full article here and explore the rest of her website.