An inclusive classroom in which all students feel welcome and comfortable may seem like an unattainable ideal, but many educators feel it is an essential component for effective teaching. Exclusion happens for a variety of reasons that include -- but are not limited to -- race, social class, or different learning levels.
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Creative Seating Plans
Sometimes all it takes is to modify the traditional seating plan or classroom setting to improve inclusion. New seating plans that add variety to student interaction, and group work that allows students to socialise with different people can foster new relationships. This can help alleviate any feelings of alienation or strangeness that can lead to exclusion. Traditional rows of seats reduce interaction and may also insulate students from each other.
Accomodating Students with Disabilities
Students with developmental disabilities can be successfully integrated into a classroom with some creative lesson plans that include group work and less pressure to be competitive. Lessons can be structured with more breaks to alleviate stress, and clearly defined, tangible goals. There is some concern that in an environment that accommodates students with learning disabilities, students at the general level will be bored or unmotivated. Studies have found that this is not the case.
Some careful research and preparation is required on the part of the instructor when composing lessons that address inclusion. Aside from the traditional lesson plan that requires time allotments, learning curriculum, number and age of students, materials needed and general subject matter, a teacher also must take into account learning levels, seating plan, and how to use positive behaviour strategies if students become distressed or frustrated.
Barriers to Inclusion
Funding is often a factor in how effectively a teacher can promote inclusiveness. Funding effects virtually every factor in the classroom, such as the size of the class, availability of materials and other resources, such as training teachers to effectively handle students with special needs. There is often a concern on the part of both teachers, administrators and parents that making concessions for the sake of inclusion will slow the progress of average level students and disrupt the learning process. Teachers are only human, and sometimes they share the prejudices of their students and enforce feelings of exclusion. Using negative reinforcement, having low expectations for marginalised students, or encouraging segregation are all determintal factors to inclusion on the part of the instructor. Adequate preparation, research, and using timely and accurate information can help alleviate these concerns.
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