In today's world, inclusion in schools is more than just providing equal access to education and services. It is about creating a space where all students, regardless of their socioeconomic status, ethnicity, race, gender, household income, or zip code, can learn and grow. Teachers in inclusive schools have the opportunity to collaborate with their colleagues, embrace different learning styles, and develop new skills. Constructing an inclusive atmosphere inside and outside the classroom is essential for growth and improvement.
Educators can learn new approaches and methods to create the most positive and effective environment for all students. School culture defines the values, expectations, beliefs, and assumptions of everyone involved in the school system - from administrators to students. School leaders should encourage teachers to apply their cultural experiences to learning tasks in the classroom and help all students understand their place in society, school, and community. The Guide to Inclusive Practices for Elementary and Secondary Education is a great resource for school divisions and parents who want to improve the outcomes of students with disabilities by providing them with the best possible education in a general education environment. This requires specific strategies and a change in culture that must be shared by school administration, teachers, and students alike.
As a teacher, it is your responsibility to set the tone in the classroom - no matter what is happening elsewhere in the school. Creating a truly inclusive school starts with each individual classroom. Teachers should provide information in a variety of ways - visually, verbally or in writing - so that all types of students can benefit. Students spend many hours out of school in their communities - working, playing, attending religious services or benefiting from social services. According to IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act), schools must include students with disabilities in the least restrictive environment.
This has three basic impacts on schools:
- Promoting feelings of belonging
- Recognizing and reinforcing different cultures
- Celebrating diversity