As a professional immersed in the field of special education for more than fifty decades, I often witness the SE pendulum swing with a vegetable soup of initials and acronyms that result in changing legislative arenas, classroom practices, and ultimately life successes. Some of us remember the days when, those kids were taught down the hallway in a contained classroom, or maybe farther removed in a trailer, separate school, or residential setting. Thankfully, more awareness in neurodiversity, rather than labeling, stereotyping, and isolating has resulted in an inclusive movement that propagates that the first option of service is the general education classroom.
Here’s the caveat though; students in inclusion classrooms present varying learning, social, behavioral, emotional, communicative, physical, perceptual, sensory, and cultural levels, backgrounds, and challenges that require specific instructional plans, strategies, and supports. This diversity necessitates the thoughtful and innovative expertise of leaders, coaches, and both general and special education staff who collaboratively assist students. This online learning environment explores how inclusion interventions, grounded on principles like establishing prior knowledge, differentiated instruction, universal design for learning, multiple intelligences, multi-sensory approaches, peer mentoring, self-determination, and cooperative learning organize an inclusive general education classroom.
If society has figured out how to routinely place two poisonous gases, Na and Cl on foods-then perhaps as educators, we can collaboratively figure out how to tastefully include all students. There are no separate inclusion lines in life, so let’s start with our classrooms.
Toby Karten, NaMaYa Inclusion Course Designer