Monday, October 01, 2007

The Challenge of Inclusion

While reading the book "Modifying Schoolwork" by Janney and Snell it occurred to me that the best inclusion classrooms are classrooms that adapt for the inclusion of many learning styles all the time. “Inclusion” should not be something we do sometimes. All learners benefit from inclusion, the real challenge is for the educator in the room to bend their lesson and modify the delivery of content in order to make learning accessible for everyone in the room. Differentiating the instruction without “dumbing down” the content seems to be the real challenge. In reality all classrooms are “inclusive” or at least strive to be. No two students learn in the same manner therefore enabling only one teaching modality seems ludicrous.

Teachers need to make differentiating tasks the norm in the class. Differentiation cannot be the exception so that a few labeled students get access. By assigning ‘group work’ that involves critical thinking, and a display of this critical thinking , students in cooperative groups should be able to shine in various aspects of the task. Constantly rotating tasks; and fostering a sense of accountability to each member’s role in the group and then using data to inform your decision for both role assignments and group formation might be the most critical part of facilitating and truly inclusive classroom.

Ideally observers to the truly inclusive classroom should not be able to immediately identify the labeled students, but also should have a difficult time distinguishing the paras from the co-teacher, from the lead educator in the room.

I know this sounds like preaching to a choir. I just needed to see it in writing.


Anonymous said...

Although I'm familiar with your points, I still do not master these skills and I have much room for improvement. It is easy to get distracted or forget what an inclusion classroom looks like- and what it takes to make it like that. Teachers that collaborate are continuously learning- from each other, from students and from the process- what works and what doesn't work.
I agree with the comment about differentiation. I try to avoid modifying work and am looking towards ways to scaffold activities so that all learners will benefit from instruction and are able to do their best work. This includes challenging students. I could use more instruction on ways to do this- I think I understand what it means to differentiate, but struggle to make it work sometimes.

D. Guglielmini said...

A colleague asked me for information on differentiated instruction and I discovered this link. I will post it here so that all can benefit.