Effectively blend students with different needs and abilities while promoting empathy in your classroom through inclusion.
Inclusion has some incredible benefits for all students, but can present a challenge for teachers. While PBS mentions that children with and without disabilities will benefit greatly from an inclusion classroom environment, this method isn’t simply about throwing kids together without guidance. Even the most seasoned educators can benefit from examining how to maximize classroom engagement for all students through a class plan for inclusion.
While blending a classroom that comprises students without special needs and those with disabilities can be difficult, teaching will become easier after implementing a few new inclusion tricks of the trade.
1. Include Mentoring
Children are neither naturally prejudiced, nor biased, yet they will acquire these detrimental points of view unless they learn lessons in compassionate behavior. Implement student mentoring activities within the classroom by speaking with teachers of older children and asking if a weekly meeting is possible. Older students should be assigned to a buddy pair of two students in the class and show the younger kids that working together is fun and everyone is able to contribute to lessons in their own way.
2. Don’t Assume, and Don’t Make Excuses
If problems arise between students, don’t always assume the children without disabilities are at fault. At the same time, don’t make excuses for the students with disabilities and automatically blame the other students in your classroom if an incident occurs as this can cause resentment between students. Try to perform some detective work to uncover the root of the problem without working on your own biases. At times, children with disabilities might channel frustration into anger, which is a response other students might not understand. Discuss these reactions with all students and brainstorm ways to handle situations more effectively in the future.
3. Become Loopy
When in a classroom that includes students with and without disabilities, both types of children are going to insist the teacher earn their trust before completely engaging. By spending more time with one teacher and the same group of classmates through looping, students will learn more about each other, thereby creating a more productive classroom environment. Speak with the school principal and parents to propose implementing this type of classroom setting over the next few years.
Creating an environment of inclusion is possible to do without compromising the experience of one group of students in favor of another. Be patient and lead by example to create a sense of empathy within the classroom. While teaching through inclusion, don’t be afraid to reach out to administrators and parents to build a supportive network that will ensure a comfortable and productive learning environment for all.