We must have heard the world “inclusion” often in the education sector. Educators discuss creating an inclusive classroom learning environment, whereas professors conduct lectures on diversity and inclusion. But what does inclusion mean for schools and colleges, and what does it look like in classrooms?
The primary aim of inclusion is to ensure every student, regardless of their gender, color, social background, or individual needs, has access to education. That includes equal learning opportunities and goals to achieve. In short, it is about cultivating a classroom environment that works for all students. Whether they have disabilities, are minor community members, or come from low-income households, they should get the same treatment. However, it is easier said than done. After all, how can you ensure inclusion for all children with their diverse needs?
It is all about putting specific plans to meet children’s varying needs in the classroom. As a teacher, you define standards of behavior to maintain decorum and ensure every student is respectful towards one another. Similarly, you can interact with students to identify their needs and create a purposeful learning environment.
Today, we will discuss some inclusive teaching strategies:
Build Rapport with Students
Undeniably, teaching is more of a social exercise where you interact with students daily. Teachers must communicate openly to deliver their message across. Moreover, building a connection with students is important. Children need to know they can trust their teachers before they start paying attention to the lectures. Thus, start addressing your students by their names to reflect their individuality. You can also have impromptu conversations to find your students’ interests outside school.
If you have a classroom of students from different countries, implement teaching strategies to eliminate the language barriers. You can leverage the subtitling and translation services of Taurho Transcribes to translate lectures and cater to a diverse classroom. For online classrooms, you can put subtitles or transcribe your videos. Such practices develop a sense of connection and belonging among students.
Promote Social Justice
Young adults, especially teenagers, are quick to judge what is fair and what is not. They can form opinions and build perceptions instantly. Therefore, it is essential to talk to them about issues of injustice and fairness to create an inclusive atmosphere in the classroom. Here are a few ways to promote social justice:
- Encourage students to broaden their horizons by learning about issues outside their communities. For example, if the air and water are polluted, ask them about potential causes.
- Help students compare situations of social injustice like access to equitable education, immigration rights, etc. It will help them develop empathy and awareness of the wider community, which is crucial for inclusive learning.
- Educate students about power and explore how they define ‘power.’ You can even use students’ experiences to describe power dynamics. Getting an insight into how they think can you help you create a positive and inclusive learning space.
Develop A Scaffolded Approach
Do you know what scaffolding is in terms of teaching? It is a learning approach that focuses on giving support to ensure all students are on the same page and have access to the same learning. Teachers must plan activities with the same objectives and outcomes while scaffolding them to suit students’ needs. The same goes for behavior. It can be challenging for some children to follow the standard rules set for the entire class.
For instance, making a child with ADHD sit for long duration is impossible. Thus, the expectation that all students must sit on their desks or carpets and listen for hours isn’t an inclusive approach. Teachers must adapt their approach and behavior like they would differentiate learning. It will enable them to create an inclusive learning environment, keeping every child’s needs in mind.
Unintentionally, most of us get influenced by institutionalized inequalities and stereotyped ideas that prevail in today’s society. As a teacher, you must address these preconceived stereotypes and ensure they don’t escalate into feelings of prejudice. For this, consider discussing stereotypical behavior with students in different group sizes. You can begin by teaching students how inequality isn’t everybody’s fault but everyone’s responsibility.
Similarly, discuss students’ behavior and attitudes openly and don’t let any feeling of prejudice go unnoticed. These feelings don’t go away independently; hence, examine and comprehend the root causes to cultivate a positive and inclusive atmosphere. Most important, every teacher must set clear boundaries and behavioral rules based on prejudices like bullying, teasing, etc. You can work with students and create ways where they can recognize discriminatory behavior and take action to overcome it.
For example, if someone says women aren’t good at sports, ask students what makes them say that. You can also tell them about female athletes who have played sports throughout their life. It will enable students to reconsider their stereotypical thinking, creating an inclusive learning environment.
Test Learning Wisely
While inclusion ensures all children can access learning, setting the same standards to assess learning can be wrong. Every student has a different retention and comprehension power. Some can learn quickly, whereas others feel pressured when tested. Hence, every teacher must think beyond a written test to check how much a student has learned. You can offer them a choice of presenting what they have learned so far and then measure their progress.
Once you have completed a topic, ask students to write a blog, create a poster, or even a PowerPoint presentation. They can also record a short program to showcase what they have learned. In addition to engaging the students, you can see their creativity when given an opportunity. These choices will also empower them. However, you must provide sufficient resources and support when using new-age testing techniques.
As the world continues to evolve, modern-day learning strategies are also changing. Now, educators’ primary focus is on inclusion to offer students what they need, a sense of belonging and recognition. Therefore, every teacher must create an inclusive classroom where all students have access to the same learning. Educate them about sensitive matters to eliminate prejudice and ensure they treat their fellow mates with respect and empathy. It will empower students to become a better version of themselves.