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Inclusion in the Classroom
Inclusion is very important in the classroom setting as it allows children with special needs and/ or disabilities to engage with other students with or without disabilities. These environments in the classroom don't just benefit the child with the disability but all children, as differentiated instruction can increase student engagement- http://inclusiveschools.org/together-we-learn-better-inclusive-schools-benefit-all-children/. In addition, the children start to build a positive image of themselves and others in an inclusive environment, as well as develop friendships with students with/ without disabilities- http://www.pbs.org/parents/education/learning-disabilities/inclusive-education/the-benefits-of-inclusive-education/
Balancing an inclusive environment and a free and appropriate education can be challenging. Two examples include:
- Students who use ASL to communicate may be restricted in a general education environment, as their peers may not have knowledge of/ understand ASL. In addition, the student with a hearing impairment can not hear his/ her peers or teachers speaking.
- A general education environment does not support the needs of students who need direct instruction on life skills, as these students need to learn these skills (using public transportation, shopping at a grocery store) outside of the classroom.
Through a lecture and activity on inclusion in my Introduction to Special Education course at Towson University, I experienced first hand what it felt to be segregated from my peers. My professor, Dr. Kay Holman, separated the class into three groups: 1 large group in the middle, and two smaller separate side groups that completed busy work while the class engaged in a fun learning activity. The objective of this activity was to exhibit a non-inclusive general education classroom, and listen to personal accounts and feelings of students who were segregated. The purpose of listening to these personal accounts was to gain perspective on how students with disabilities must feel to be segregated, and to thus gain awareness of the importance of an inclusive general education classroom environment.
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