There are so many moving parts that it takes to make general education inclusion successful and each situation is different. You have your team working within the room, the general management of the classroom, and all of the supports needed for your students. Not to mention the push for exposing ALL students to grade level standards no matter what level they are functioning at. I taught full inclusion for six years and two years of partial to limited inclusion. What I found consistent over those years is that staff attitudes towards inclusion and really making a general ed teacher feel supported can make or break a successful experience for our students. And that’s who it’s about…the STUDENTS. Here are some tips and pictures from some great teachers in my building who have made inclusion successful (no one said it isn’t a lot of work)!
All “the stuff”
I feel like sometimes when people see me their first thought it, “oh great, here she comes with her Velcro and picture schedules”. Well it’s true. I do come with a lot of “stuff” because that’s what it takes to support our students and teachers. While you must provide everything included in a student’s IEP, I do believe you can do it efficiently without completely taking over a general ed teacher’s room. Whether you are working with a new teacher or maybe someone who is not as welcoming to all the “stuff”, stay positive and ensure that teacher that you will work together. Do not just walk in and take over their space without getting their input and working as a team (after all, it was a team that created the IEP). Make a list of what your students will need and use organizers and space they already have to meet needs. While some teachers may feel overwhelmed with everything, remind them that you will be training the staff and implementing the plan and that all of these supports will actually make everything run much smoother in the long run!
Pictured above: Aisha, a Pre-K and Kindergarten Special Education teacher uses a cart (with names on the opposite side) to hold her students individual supports such as ipads, AT devices, core boards, extra appropriate work, reinforcers, and behavior visuals! Everything is accessible and in one place without overtaking counter space.
I will say it until the day I die but VISUALS. They work for ALL STUDENTS. While you still need to put the work into teaching students how to use and reference visuals, the payoff is BIG. Make a whole group picture schedule for your general ed teachers and students. When working with multiple picture schedules, find a stable place to mount them. It does not always have to be a wall! Check out how this teacher is using a supply cabinet. Of course, with picture schedules come all the little pictures. My general ed teachers have been loving these wall boards where students match their pictures to. They are movable if needed and do not take up a lot of room like baskets can.
Available, appropriate work
We are a team. This is obvious. However, I really do feel like a lot of teachers become frustrated when they are overwhelmed with trying to modify grade level work and truly knowing what to do with some of our students. Throw in days when you are actually sick and need to stay home and it can be enough to overwhelm any teacher. The most efficient way I have found to keep all work organized, goal oriented, and appropriate are student binders. Write a list of your student’s goals, make folders with work that coincides with those subjects, and show teachers how you envisioned the binder working. If you are the only person who knows how to utilize it, (a) it won’t get used (b) you are never allowed to be absent and (c) opportunities are missed to grow as a teacher by learning new methods.
Pictured above: Page does an amazing job with student binders in her third-grade inclusion classes. You cannot always be everywhere at once, so make sure your teachers have what they need to work with in order to target those goals and build to grade level standards. I love how in front of each tab Page has a progress monitoring sheet. She also has a main page in the front with the goals listed for the student. Bonus: data tracking for progress reports and annuals are made super easy
How is inclusion going for you and your team? Do you have areas you wish to improve on or simplify? Happy including!