Inclusive education supports, benefits and embraces the differences of all learners.Inclusive schools will share similar characteristics such as a committed leadership, democratic classrooms, reflective teachers, a supportive culture, responsive and relevant curriculum, and responsive instruction.
· Committed Leadership – Administrative leadership is considered to be the number one support or the greatest obstacle to the success of developing an inclusive school. The leadership team needs to communicate the philosophy of inclusive schools to students, families and the community, as well as supporting teachers take risks and try new approaches.
· Respectful and Equitable Classrooms – Students, teachers, support staff, and family members all have a voice in an inclusive school. Equality reigns, and everyone is treated with respect. Students are connected to each other and the broader community through curriculum which is designed around real-life experience.
· Supportive School Culture – Authoritative, competitive or individualistic school cultures must morph into open and caring ones, if they want to thrive within the inclusive school model. This may be the most difficult, but most crucial, piece. Invite parents to visit the classroom, encourage the use of suggestion boxes and celebrate every achievement no matter how small.
· Engaging and Relevant Curricula- A critical piece to make the inclusive school successful is the design of the curriculum to encompass every student in every classroom, no matter what their ability or learning style. This demonstrates how the school perceives and deals with difference and can be used as a learning tool for students in their life journey. Include relevant and interesting content by including assignments and reading material about diversity when teaching a broad subject.
· Responsive Instruction – Teaching in a multi-ability classroom can be challenging for the teacher to reach and motivate all learners. There are various ideas to find opportunities for students with diverse needs, such as providing large-print text books for those students with low vision, or providing personal checklists for those who have trouble organizing information.
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This article is from the website of Dr. Paula Kluth. It, along with many others on inclusive schooling, differentiated instruction, and literacy can be found at www.PaulaKluth.com. Visit now to read her Tip of the Day, read dozens of free articles, and learn more about supporting diverse learners in K-12 classrooms.