What does inclusion mean to you?
As a special education teacher, 'inclusion' was one of my greatest passions. I had the fortune of attending an extended workshop with Paula Kluth, one of the leading educators in the field of 'inclusion' as it pertains to students receiving special education services. Inclusion refers to the concept that students with disabilities have the same right to be included in the general education setting and extracurricular activities with their typically developing peers. Throughout my years as a special education teacher I had the privilege of working with students that qualified for IEP services under a variety of disability categories. I hold the strong belief that all students are entitled to learn, play and grow along side their general education peers. This requires strong collaboration between the special education team and the general education team. There are many strategies teachers can use to make the curriculum accessible to students with a variety of learning needs. Below I will share a few inclusion strategies that may make learning accessible to all students in a classroom setting.
Tutor scripts: Peers can work together using a 'tutoring script'. The script gives the students an outline for studying and working together.
Highlight key words: Using highlighter tape, the teacher or a paraprofessional can highlight key words and phrases in a shared reading text.
Allow students to present their work in different ways. Some students may want to prerecord their voice, read from a script, or pre-program key phrases into an augmentative communication device.
Make a project or book come to life. Use photos and real life objects to depict content material.
Include students interests and hobbies in the learning environment. Something as simple as putting a picture of a favorite pet or character on a graphic organizer can engage students.
At NEC, we collaborate with parents and schools to work towards more inclusion opportunities for students with their general education peers. Along with reviewing IEPs and helping to determine if students are spending an appropriate amount of time in the general education classroom we can also assist parents and teachers by generating ideas on how to make the classroom environment supportive and successful for their individual student.