Reflection Six

The Inclusive Classroom

Presence, Participation, Achievement

In teaching there will always be a good mix of abilities, ethnicity, etc in the classroom and the school. It is important to make everyone feel like they are valuable and are an important member of the classroom and school. Three ways that this can be done is through presence, participation and celebration of achievement with the students. According to the New Zealand Curriculum (2007) presence means preparation and whole-school commitment and support to provide learning opportunities for all students. Having a variety of students in each class in relation to ability, ethnicity etc is a microcosm of the community at large. Participation means the active involvement of students in the life of the school. Connections between the home and the school are essential. It is important for students to know that they belong. Achievement doesn’t necessarily mean a certain passing grade for a subject, but being able to do something that they weren’t previously able to do such as becoming digitally literate or initiating positive and productive activity without needing prompting.

Importance of Presence

It is important to involve special education students and their families within the school culture as it makes them feel welcome and provides equal opportunity for them. If special education students are marginalised by being dictated to in regards to what they can and can’t do, then the students will resent going to school and their families will feel like they are getting a raw deal. Many people avoid having to deal with people with special needs as they feel unsure about how to act, what to do and how much the person with disabilities understands. By having a presence of students with special education needs at school, both the students and teachers gain more experience and more understanding about how to include and involve them in everyday life. The student with special needs also learns about how to interact with others and deal with new experiences and activities too. By including special education students, the rest of the students learn that we are all different and we all have our own set of unique strengths and weaknesses and that we all have feelings. In having special education students in the school, all of the students learn how to relate to others and co-operate in a friendly and non-judgmental manner. It gives the special education students an opportunity to make friends and students learn that their families are just the same as everyone else’s.

Importance of Participation

In participating, it gives students the opportunity to try everything, have new experiences and become an active member of the school. Students might find out that they enjoy swimming, art or science for example. With support from both the school and the family, students can be encouraged and enabled to pursue things they may not have thought they would enjoy or be able to do. Through the combined efforts of the school and the family, they can celebrate together the achievements of the special education students. Teachers enjoy seeing their students’ progress throughout the year and families enjoy seeing the progress of their children. This can be said for all students and families in general too. It is important that the school and the teachers listen to what the families say works for their children and how they can then implement the strategies that the families use into everyday school life and classroom management. It goes the other way too, if the families can use some of the advice given from the school and apply it at home then it’s a broad, well-rounded way of assisting and advancing the education of the students.

Importance of Achievement

The first principle described in The New Zealand Curriculum (2007) is high expectations regardless of individual circumstances. Some schools find it hard to enact this principle for students with special needs, particularly within the context of National Standards and reporting requirements. Schools need to have a clear understanding of what counts as achievement for each student and how the steps towards achievement will be monitored, measured, and reported. Each level of the curriculum has room to develop breadth of experience and connections between meaningful achievements over time. The steps may be tiny and non-linear, but they still need to be recognised and celebrated as progress. Teachers also need to understand that some students are on different pathways. The importance of achievement is very significant for students if they are given the right support and encouragement from their support network (teachers, parents, friends) then they can achieve success in a variety of areas.

Stratagies in the Classroom - Presence

To remove barriers and develop the presence of special education students in an inclusive environment I would have my classroom set up so the desks are in groups and also encourage a lot of group work during class time. I would also make certain that I greet the students by name as they enter the classroom.

Stratagies in the Classroom - Participation

To provide opportunity for the participation of the students I would make sure that they knew that they had standards and expectations to live up to, just like the rest of the students. In marking their work I would take into account the content of their work as opposed to things like spelling. In using questioning I would be certain to include the special education students.

Stratagies in the Classroom - Achievement

To celebrate the achievement of the special education students I would make sure that I hung their work on the walls of the classroom along with everyone else’s, and I would also give them stickers and praise the students in class and also award them certificates in assembly.

A welcoming environment

In order to make the classroom a welcoming place for the students there needs to be a mutual level of respect between teachers and students (McGee & Fraser, 2012), this helps to make the classroom have a safe atmosphere. Teachers can do small things also to make students feel accepted such as saying students names correctly, using a preferred name for the students if that makes them feel more comfortable, learning about the students culture and background (McGee & Fraser, 2012) and genuinely taking an interest in students points of view and lives.

Seattle Special Ed Student Shows How Inclusive Education Benefits the Entire Student Body

References

  • Ministry of Education (2007), The New Zealand Curriculum
  • McGee C, Fraser D (2012) The Professional Practice of Teaching: 4th Edition, Cengage Learning, Pgs 2,3,5