By Jasper Fox Sr.
Imagine for a minute that you are a student again. Now imagine that learning within the school setting isn’t happening easily. You watch other students progress and wonder why it isn’t as easy for you. Maybe there is a lot going on at home or outside of school, or maybe learning is just harder for you. The bottom line is that an awful lot of students are struggling to make meaning of their educational experience.
Just last week, a window into the reasons students struggle went viral and got mainstream exposure on CNN. The article “#IWishMyTeacherKnew shares students’ heartbreak, hopes” provides insight into some of the forces causing students to stumble.
Schools need to provide a welcoming experience for all students, not just those who struggle, so that effective classroom strategies can be successfully employed. Here are three tactics to consider when creating an inclusive learning environment:
- Differentiating: We know that everyone learns differently, so move past the “one-size-fits-all” approach to instruction and assessment. Try allowing students to engage with information in a variety of formats, such as websites, videos, and podcasts. Books, magazines, and periodicals provide rich nontech ways for students to progress through materials as well. Provide small group or individual, direct instruction so you can tailor content delivery more accurately for specific learners’ needs. Assessment choices represent an opportunity for students to showcase their understanding in various ways. Examples include portfolios, presentations, and oral exams. When we customize students’ experiences in our classroom, we can build upon their strengths and help to develop and improve their understanding of topics with which they are struggling.
- Healthy Grading: Stop taking off points for behaviors like lateness, unpreparedness, or talking out of turn. While these and other behaviors are important to manage, they shouldn’t be used to mask or reflect students’ understanding of a topic. Instead, focus on what the students do know and let that show in your grade book. The components of an enlightened grading philosophy include
- Regular formative assessments in which quality, descriptive feedback is generated and personalized for each student.
- Opportunities for reiteration that are embedded within tests and quizzes.
Once satisfactory understanding is demonstrated on formative assessments, students are ready to attempt a summative test. Ensuring that students are prepared for an exam increases the likelihood of initial success—which builds confidence and purpose.
- Relationships: The most effective way to build an inclusive learning environment comes from forming meaningful connections with your students. Simple, time-honored techniques such as not raising your voice and saying their names correctly are great ways to start building relationships. By taking some extra time and effort to view each pupil as an individual and truly believing that each student can succeed, you’ll become partners in success.
Putting your students’ emotional needs first is important because without feeling safe and understood, no instructional strategy will be effective. By building relationships in the classroom, students will feel comfortable enough to come out and tell us what is on their minds without having to wait for an opportunity from you to do so. Students want to feel valued and like they are a part of a larger school community. By forming a bond between you and your students and providing a sound educational framework for success, real learning will occur.
Jasper Fox Sr. teaches science at Copper Beech Middle School in the Lakeland Central School District in Shrub Oak, N.Y., where he is currently in his twelfth year of teaching. He was recently named the Educators Voice Honoree for Middle School Teacher of the Year at the 2014 Bammy Awards and was a semifinalist in the 2015 New York State Teacher of the Year program. An avid writer and connected educator, Fox maintains an active Twitter presence as @jasperfoxsrand writes for a variety of sites and publications.
The Inclusive Learning Environments Essay
In this essay I will reflect upon the inclusive learning environment, i intend on reflecting this by researching, reading, extending my own knowledge and a recent exemplar visit. The main issues i have chosen to cover throughout this essay are inclusion, children’s learning and the environment. Issues i will also cover are Special Educational Needs (SEN), Every Child Matters (EMC), Diversity and legislations. I intend on doing this by arguing, analyzing and discussing the inclusive learning environment. Inclusive learning environments can be varied from the school environment to the home environment. Both having a significant impact to a child’s learning. The environment within schools needs to be stimulating, creative and enjoyable for all children to learn in. Effective classroom organization, interaction between both staff and children are essential to the inclusive learning environment.
Inclusion is the main issue within the inclusive learning environment, if a child doesn’t feel included within their environment then their learning will be effected by this. The Oxford English Dictionary defines inclusion as “the action or state of including or of being included within a group or structure” (Oxford English Dictionary 2011: Inclusion) This means that every child should feel involved and included, no matter of there different learning abilities or levels. This can mean children who have special educational needs, such as dyslexia, physical disability or metal disability. Inclusion should provide opportunities for all children, no matter of their age, race, gender, disability, religion, ability or their background, to be involved within their learning environment. Each child should feel like they belong and feel like they are respected by both their classmates and teachers. Inclusion is not just making someone feel included or belonged it is also about a numerous of things such as behavior, attendance, staff development, looked after children (LAC), child protection, medical and emotional. I have previously read a case study relating to inclusion, a child with global learning delay and dyspraxia. Glazzard J, Hughes A, Netherwood A, Neve A, Stoke J. (2010:7) The child was educated within a mainstream school, were non of his teachers had been trained in his needs. The teacher always tried to include him whenever she could but as her class was working as a year 5/6 class and he was working on a P scale. When he was included the rest of the children in the class responded well to him, they all enjoyed his company. The teacher didn’t create work for this child, it was the teaching assistants role to educate him. I thought this was a good case of inclusion because their was many of ways that he could of been included. His teachers should of had training on his needs, therefore they would no how to involve him with the other children. The teacher could of involved him more when working with the whole class and ask him appropriate questions to his...
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