Specific Reflection 6: The Inclusive Classroom
Inclusion means valuing all students and all staff in all aspects of school life. It involves removing barriers to presence, participation, and achievement.
a) Define/explain the terms presence, participation and achievement, and explain the importance of each of these in relation to inclusive principles for students with special educational needs and their families/whānau.
b) For each term, describe at least two strategies you could implement within your future classroom to remove barriers and develop/ foster an inclusive environment.
Inclusion means valuing all students and all staff in all aspects of school life. It involves removing barriers to presence, participation, and achievement. It is one of the eight principles in The New Zealand Curriculum.(The New Zealand Curriculum Update, Issue 18 March 2012)
The New Zealand Curriculum clearly states the vision for 'young people who will be confident, connected, actively involved, lifelong learners' (NZC, 2007 p. 7). In order to achieve this, every teacher has professional responsibility to practice Inclusive Classroom.
According to the NZC Update, schools are responsible to ensure that the achievement of all students regardless of their ethnicity, background, gender, race, ability and learning needs are met in an inclusive environment.
Disabled children have the same right to education as other children in New Zealand. In particular, section 8(1) of the Education Act 1989 confirms that “people who have special educational needs (whether because of a disability or otherwise) have the same rights to enrol and receive education at state schools as people who do not”.(Human Rights Commission).
Every child has the right to be at school and learn. This means that the school has to practice inclusive principle by being prepared and committed through its charter, policy and enrolment processes in welcoming all students regardless of their needs and not discriminate anyone.
Teachers have professional responsibility to teach every child regardless of their ability within the New Zealand Curriculum framework.
Children with special educational needs have every right to be in school and learn as the other children. They have the same opportunities to be in a classroom and engage in the learning activities, and this has to be actively recognised by the schools, the teachers and staff.
The families and whānau of children with special educational needs have the right to be included in every stage of their children's learning (TKI-Special Education Needs)
Children regardless of their abilities, need to have a sense of belonging. This can be addressed by ensuring the active involvement of students with special needs as valued member of the academic, physical, social, and cultural life of the school. (The New Zealand Curriculum Update, Issue 18 March 2012).
It is the responsibility of the entire school fraternity to support the participation of all students, and it has to be build upon The New Zealand Curriculum framework and legal requirements.
This clearly states the rights of children with special needs to be active participants of learning in the classroom. They have the right to stay in the class and engage in the learning activities as the rest of the children even if they have teacher-aides assisting them.
It is the responsibility of the school and the teacher to form successful partnerships with the families and whānau of children with special needs. This partnerships is vital as it provides a good source of information about the children.
The New Zealand Curriculum supports and empowers all students to learn and achieve personal excellence, regardless of their individual circumstances. (NZC, 2008, p. 9).
This is also reflected in the National Standards requirement on achievement, 'most learners with special education needs will be able to progress and achieve'. (National Standards-MOE, 2012, p. 1)
These two documents should be the framework from which the schools should ensure that effective learning activities are given to children with special educational needs to achieve their full potential. Every progress and achievement needs to be recognised and celebrated.
Children with special education needs should be given the opportunities to set their learning goals like the rest of the class and the teachers must ensure these children achieve their individual potential through effective pedagogy.
Their learning goals, progress and achievement will be reported to the family and whānau.
I will support a non-verbal child to greet and meet friends using visual aids such as photos of friends or sign language or through the use of electronic tools such as Avantage. Other electronic tools that I can use are Ipads or Ipods to create communication systems for the students.
I will help create a special book for the student. This book will have pictures of school staff and places in the school. This will provide basic information on what to do around the school
I will also create a communication book on what the student likes, and how he/she communicates. This book will facilitate a better understanding among the staff and the school children.
I will support the student to achieve the next learning step by giving encouragement, support, appropriate questioning, guidance and helping the child to participate and have success in learning.
I will give positive affirmation using reward system such as stickers and certificates to recognise and celebrate their achievement.
I need to talk to the student about setting personal achievement and success and working out the next learning step.
Equipment, visuals and and learning space need to be set up within the classroom so the student will feel included and part of the classroom learning environment. This will ensure the student can move in and out of the work station without interruptions and in a non-threatening way.
I will ensure that the student remains in the classroom for all learning activities as well as taking part in other school activities such as school camp, physical education and sports.
I need to ensure that the student's privacy is maintained at all time.
I will encourage self-regulated learning environment that caters for all learning styles and needs. The student can pick and choose what to learn with my support and that of the teacher aides.
I will ensure that the parents and whānau of the student are welcomed and included in my classroom and be part of any decision involving their child's learning needs.
I will ensure that the family and whānau of the student is actively involved in deciding the best possible way to engage and keep their child involved in school activities.
I will report every progress and achievement to the student's parents and whānau as they have the right to know their child's learning achievement.
Smith, Ron and Barr, Sean (2008) 'Towards educational inclusion in a contested society: from critical analysis to creative action', International Journal of Inclusive Education, 12:4, p. 415-416