Schools have a tremendous responsibility to fulfill. One of these is ensuring no child gets left behind when it comes to getting an education. Therefore inclusive learning is the cornerstone of a successful academic establishment. It is the process through which students get access to flexible learning resources, get a chance to build their personality, and not feel discriminated against. The purpose of inclusive education is to give every pupil a sense of belonging and, regardless of their individualistic needs to get held back from studying.
When schools start sowing the seeds of inclusion early in a child’s life, it benefits them in the long haul. These students will grow up and contribute to society. Every lesson they learn, the acceptance they feel, and the coping strategies they adopt for themselves will positively shape them. So how do you as an educator play a role in highlighting inclusivity in educational establishments? Read more to find out:
- Help Students Learn
Students with disabilities tend to drop out of school early, especially when they cannot keep up with class lessons. More than 15% of pupils with learning disabilities may stop attending classes because of traditional teaching methods. Every child has a unique style of learning, and as a teacher, you need to make an effort to incorporate all of them. It will help you immensely if you look into obtaining a degree in special education and learning about the advantages of having advanced credentials in this field.
Individuals with disabilities like autism, dyslexia, and even ADHD have specific learning styles. For instance, if a student with dyslexia has trouble reading, you may encourage them to listen to audiobooks and follow the words.
You can integrate the Universal Design for Learning (UDL). This method allows you to diversify how you work with students.
Through the UDL, you may use technology cannot as a smartboard to teach, use videos instead of lecturing, or teach students in groups. When pupils sit for an exam, you let them speak their answers, write them on paper, or present them in class.
- Talk about Inclusivity in the Classroom
Students struggle to connect with their peers due to a lack of tolerance and acceptance. Children with disabilities, hailing from lower-income households, or who cannot speak the native language often face active discrimination from their peers. This bullying stems from social stereotypes or a lack of information on the student’s part. However, as a teacher, you can remedy this thought process. It would help if you talked about what disabilities are with your students.
Help your students realize how each member of society is essential. Utilizing tools like videos, easy-to-understand books, and even inviting parents to speak will help pupils understand and learn more about their peers. You can further instill acceptance in classrooms by encouraging the buddy method. Pair up students randomly with a peer and ask them to be friends. This process teaches students to be friendly, kind, and playfully learn about diversity. When children learn acceptance at an early age, they carry it through their life. When these children grow up to work in large, diverse companies, they will have no trouble getting along with their peers.
- Introduce the Concept of Boundaries
Students, especially those in elementary school, may not know acceptable social behavior and understand boundaries. Specific disabilities also make a child more prone to aggression, and they may not know how to cope with their anger. Therefore, the children in your classroom need to learn the appropriate behavior and cues. The rules should be easy to follow and understand.
You cannot use complex terms which may confuse the child. If the student has trouble comprehending words, use pictures or physically demonstrate what you want them to learn. For instance, teach children not to slap, punch or touch anyone to get anyone’s attention. You may wish to emphasize kindness and share methods of being kind, like helping each other.
Highlight words you want them to use and discourage offensive terms, racial slurs or mean nicknames.
Educate students on asking for consent and permission before touching their peer’s property, like reaching for their pencil. Students who pick up on the concept of boundaries will evolve into respectable adults. However, if a child struggles to pick up social cues and chooses to act out in class, don’t humiliate them. This backtracks progress. The child may need extra time, lessons, and practical demonstration before they start following.
- Teach Communication Methods
Not every child knows how to communicate with words. Some struggle to find the correct term or express their emotions.
Students with autism may be non-verbal. They may occasionally use words but choose gestures as a way to ask for help. While teaching students how to communicate, you need to employ different methods. When using words, constantly explain what to use and why at the same time and provide clear instructions on what you want them to do.
If a child is nonverbal, you may use gestures like your hands, fingers, and facial features to indicate emotion, expression, and thought. This can include pointing, nodding, and making eye contact. You may even use exposure communication. This includes reading to the child using enunciations to show happiness, sadness, and anger.
Also, get into the habit of using multiple words so students know the diverse vocabulary that means the same thing.
Communication helps students express their needs to their families and their educators. This helps them go through life without feeling burdened by their thoughts. It also helps prevent a breakdown or an anger episode.
- Identifying The Needs
Every student is different and has varying needs. Children with ADHD cannot sit in one place for long, while children with autism cannot sit under bright light. As a teacher, it is your job to make sure you understand what your pupil needs. You must give them breaks between classes, allow them sensory toys when they’re fighting and provide the child space for stimming. Some students may also have mental health concerns. Therefore they need to see a school-appointed mental health counselor frequently.
Students with dysphagia may have trouble swallowing during their lunch break and need longer time to consume meals. You have to address your student’s needs and provide a suitable outlet in all these situations. This prevents the child from feeling isolated, affects their health, and allows them to have a better upbringing. If you think parental intervention is necessary, get them on board. A pupil who graduates with a robust and healthy educational model will grow into a reasonable and kind adult.
Inclusive education is the only way forward in a thriving society. Often children with disabilities are dismissed and deprived of tools that can help them align with their community. As an educator, you cannot allow a particular group of children to get shunned. Start by providing the same level of education to students using the UDL and individualistic teaching methods.
Have a discussion on inclusivity in your classroom and engage students in active participation. You may also want to walk them through the concept of boundaries and how to establish them.