An Inclusion Toolbox

Resources to Help Special Educators Succeed In Inclusive Classrooms

With a strong push to provide true LRE (Least Restrictive Environment) more and more children with disabilities are spending most or all of their day in a general education classroom. Two models have emerged for inclusion: push in, where a special educator goes into the general education classroom for part of the day to provide specially designed instruction, and the co-teaching model, where a general educator and special educator partner to provide instruction to all the children in their classroom.

What is Inclusion, Anyways?

An Inclusive Classroom Includes Children with Disabilities. Getty Images

Inclusion seems to mean different things to different people. The most important definition is the one provided by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, which requires children with disabilities to be educated with their typically developing peers in a general education classroom. That creates a lot of challenges for both the general education and special education teachers.

Differentiating Instruction in Inclusive Settings

These kids are gathering specimens as part of a collaborative science project.

Differentiation is the educational strategy that helps teachers provide assessment and instruction across abilities while teaching the same content.  Because the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)requires that children with disabilities be educated in the "Least Restrictive Environment,"  inclusion provides students with disabilities full access to the general education curriculum.

Differentiation is critical for students with disabilities when they participate in science or social studies.  Students who struggle with reading may be great in math, and be able to succeed in the general education curriculum with the right support.

Examples of Lessons Using Differentiation

A differentiated project. Websterlearning

Here are a number of lessons designed to model differentiation:

These lessons model how teachers can include students in activities in ways that will broaden all students participation in curricular content areas. 

Rubrics to Support Student Success in Inclusive Setting

Rubric for Animal Project. Websterlearning

A rubric is one of several powerful strategies to support student success, both typical and children with disabilities.  By providing lots of ways for students to exhibit proficiency, you provide success for students who are struggling with other academic skills which may be weaker, such as math, organizational or reading skills. 

Collaboration -- the Key to Success in a Inclusive Co-teaching Setting

Colleagues collaborating. Hero Images/Getty Images

Collaboration is essential in a full inclusion classroom when the co-teaching model is used, pairing a general education and special education teacher.  It offers all sorts of challenges, challenges that will only be overcome when both teachers are determined to see that it works. 

Inclusion Helps All Students Succeed

Clearly, inclusion is here to stay. Not only does it facilitate placing students in the "Least Restrictive Environment" (LRE,) it also promotes the sort of collaboration that is an invaluable "Twenty-first Century Skill." Students with disabilities not only can make an important contribution to a general education classroom, it can also give typically developing students experience in supporting students who struggle with tasks they find easy, while at the same time, helping them to develop empathy. As some categories of students with disabilities grow, it is important that those without disabilities are able to accept and include them in the life of their community.