The duties and responsibilities of teachers cannot be fully described in the job description. Not only do educators have to meet academic standards, but they must also acknowledge and address students’ emotional, social, and other special needs. The term “inclusive classroom” is mentioned as the standard for the modern-day classroom. An inclusive classroom is where students with learning differences can all prosper together, in a responsive, and supportive environment. It is also an environment where everybody respects and treasures each other’s background and culture. Teaching children in an inclusive environment can help kids not only do well in school but also help them to communicate, and respect others in society. Check out this blog for a few suggestions to build an inclusive classroom, and the necessary inclusive resources to achieve the objective.
I/ SUGGESTIONS TO MAKE THE CLASSROOM MORE INCLUSIVE
A. Start With The Language.
“The way we talk to our children becomes their inner voice” – Peggy O’Mara. The power of words is immeasurable. At this age, young minds will likely learn and pick up on what everyone says to them. Take talking with kids seriously, and never use a condescending tone. Use phrases that people would use in a casual, adult conversation, such as: “I agree”, and “I understand what you mean” … which makes the conversation more productive, and kids can feel more heard and respected. Give children truthful, and specific compliments on things they do, or behaviours you would like to see in them. Focus on the language that the students are using too. When you hear students using inappropriate language, make sure to interrupt these behaviours, and let them know there are different ways that they can express their feelings.
Try to use inclusive language while addressing the students. Instead of saying “ladies and gentlemen”, or “boys and girls”, try using gender-neutral words like “students”, and “friends” to respect students’ identities. When talking about students’ legal guardians, find out about who they are first before addressing them. Words like “mom and dad” might be unsuitable, and hurtful to children who live in foster care, stay with other relatives, or being involved in other complicated situations.
- Mindset Bulletin Board Set help to build positive thinking habits and boost self-confidence. Display this visual to remind students to change their mindset, embrace challenges and achieve success.
- Grow for It! Mini Bulletin Board Set encourages students to blossom with a whole garden of encouraging phrases.
Change Your Words – Change Your Mindset!
B. Develop A Standard for Conduct
Letting children know there are behaviour standards in the classroom is essential to build polite, appreciative surroundings. It will also help children to learn manners and get used to following the typical code of conduct which exists in every community and working place. Create a set of basic behaviour standards that you expect from your learners, go over them with the class and get agreement from everyone. The standards should be short, and simple, and ensure that all members in the classroom are included and valued. Some examples are:
- Respect others and their belongings.
- Be kind and polite to others.
- Raise your hand when you have an opinion. Wait for others to finish their ideas first.
From then on, everyone has the responsibility to follow the standard. Praise the student who consistently follows the code and whoever violates it must deal with the consequence. The consequence must be appropriate, and consistent. When the student shows undesirable behaviour, the teacher could always start with eye contact and remind the student that his/her/their behaviour is not appropriate according to the rules. If the behaviour continues to occur, put the student’s name down on a piece of paper, and discuss it with he/she/they privately. Try to find out what is causing the behaviour, which will help you to understand his/her/their situation and approach the issue from a more positive view. Be prepared for circumstances where students are rude to others. Interrupt the mean teasing and use the case as an opportunity to teach them a lesson.
C. Get To Know Your Students
Establish relationships with your students. Give them plenty of opportunities to share their hobbies and struggles while you share yours. This will help you to build a meaningful and long-lasting connection with them. If you have students with disabilities, make sure to spend time asking them questions so you can understand their specific needs. Plan activities for your students to share more about themselves. Some examples of activities could be the “Family Interview” where each student has to create a short survey/questionnaire and get their family members to do it, “Name Poems” – Have each student write their name and add an adjective that describes each letter. Sometimes, a simple walk and talk would also suffice. If they do not wish to share, do not put them on the spot! As long as you create plenty of occasions for them to share, they will understand that they are in an open and caring environment.
- Spark discussions with Let’s Talk Cube. Colourful cubes feature 36 engaging questions about student experiences and perspectives, including “What are you most proud of?”, “Who is the bravest person you know?”
- Learn a range of essential skills that can be used in everyday life with the fun set Social Skills Games. Answer questions about how to deal with relatable scenarios, differentiate between right and wrong and learn how to express your emotions and recognize how others may be feeling.
- Encourage mindfulness and start conversations about emotions with the chunky I Am Me Puzzle! It features a flower-shaped base, 15 affirmation petals and an ‘I am’ centerpiece. Each petal features a different affirmation: funny, brave, smart, kind and more. It helps foster the importance of empathy and develop confidence as children learn to identify and express their emotions.
So many creative options for students to share about themselves!
When a student creates problems in your classroom, try to take your time to get at what might be the root of the issues and come up with a long-term solution. It is possible that the pupil has a serious situation at home or an undiscovered learning handicap. Offering help when needed can make a huge impact in the young ones’ minds, get them to trust, and build a relationship with you!
D. Adapt Teaching Strategies to Meet Students’ Needs
When students with learning differences are placed in the general classroom, they frequently get accommodation and support. However, the educator might become stressed as he/she/they try to accommodate each kid individually. Despite teachers’ best efforts, some students with learning differences still feel singled out, and even reject accommodations to fit in. Educators have to flex and adapt their teaching styles to fit all students. Try to plan the lessons with the students in mind – make the lessons simple to understand, and relevant to the students. You can also change the methods that you use to deliver the lesson. Students enjoy learning new content in different ways such as visual, auditory, or hands-on. Example: You can show students video recordings/youtube videos, get them to listen to tapes, and use charts, and diagrams in your teachings. Let children choose how to demonstrate what they have learned at the end of each topic. Instead of giving them written tests, multiple choices every time, switch gears and offer students various ways to present the lesson. Let them make slide shows, create posters, do presentations, whatever their own strengths are! Giving children choices to demonstrate what they’ve learned will make the classroom more inclusive, as students get equal judgement, and opportunities to show their growth.
II/ INCLUSIVE RESOURCES
Inclusive resources create an environment that ensures successful learning for all students and encourages full participation in learning activities. They are essential tools to build an inclusive classroom, as they assist students to fully benefit from their educational experience. Take a look at our recommendations for inclusive resources that promote inclusion value and support every student’s unique pattern of learning!
E. Multicultural Resources
An inclusive classroom typically means including students with special needs or learning differences. However, it also refers to making the effort to embrace students of different races, cultures, socioeconomic backgrounds, and sexual orientations. It is to make sure that everyone receives a fair judgment, has access to learning resources, and erases the prejudices we may have against others.
- Increase awareness about other countries’ living standards: Using the Explorer Globe to teach children about world problems. Let one volunteer point to any country in the world and spend time learning about that country’s living standards. Do people have access to school? Do they have access to food, and clean water?
- Hello World! Floor Puzzle includes pictures of multicultural children dressed in traditional clothing and greetings from various languages around the world. Greeting one another in many cultures is considered an act of respect and builds friendship. Incorporate this puzzle into daily teaching to teach children about different cultures, and their ways of saying hello!
Servus! Hola! Shalom! Greeting one another in many cultures is considered an act of respect and builds friendship.
The books in your library are excellent sources for kids to explore different viewpoints and people. Stock your library with diverse books that include a range of characters from different backgrounds. Make sure students understand more about themselves and other perspectives from the outside.
- Best Behaviour Series teaches that words can hurt someone’s feelings, and violence is not a solution to the problem. Each book has simple words and charming pictures to discover better ways to cope with frustration, mad, sad or cranky feelings.
- Becoming Resilient Books encourages children to try new things, embrace change and overcome obstacles! The books focus on friendship, compromise acceptance, and respect.
Let children learn more about themselves and others!
G. Alternative Seating
Alternative seating is created so kids with learning disabilities can increase their focus and become comfortable in the classroom. Giving students options to pick the seating that fits them is a great strategy to make the classroom more inclusive. Children with autism, sensory issues, and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) will benefit a lot from alternative seatings, as they are designed to help kids focus, process information, and stimulate students’ senses.
- Adjustable Wiggle Stool features an adjustable seat height, with an extra-thick padded seat that allows for comfortable all-day use. The adjustable height reduces distractions and helps to promote a focused environment. The base is angled for improved posture and provides stability, even when over-tipped.
- BouncyBand Calming & Fun Sensory Rocker is every kid’s favourite place to relax, decompress and calm down! This rocker provides active movement, deep pressure, and sensory stimulation to calm and aid with fidgeting and restlessness. Children can rock and expel excess energy while being soothed and comforted with deep pressure. Rocking is an excellent way to receive vestibular stimulation, strengthen muscles and develop a sense of balance.
I don’t know about you, but I’d sit on these all day! (Assuming I have the physique of a child of course)
H. Fidgets/Sensory Play/Manipulatives
In the classroom, fidget toys are great options for students as they allow the students to move while completing class work. Fidget toys aid kids who have trouble concentrating in class. Having a few of them around significantly improves classroom behaviour. If students overuse the toys, and get distracted from classwork/distract others, step in and remind them about the true purpose of these gadgets.
- BouncyBand Sensipod is a silent fidget enabling kids and adults to fidget without distracting others. Rubbing fingers, palms and feet over the 4 stimulating textures can alleviate tension, hyperactivity and boredom, helping achieve greater focus. Tension and stress are reduced as the soft flexible spikes, bumpy nobs, smooth ridges and crinkly sides provide hours of fidgety relief in the classroom and at home.
- While sitting or standing, BouncyBand Fidget Food Roller silently releases excess energy, alleviates anxiety, and increases focus. Restless fidgeters place a foot on the roller spinning it forwards, backwards, or both ways. It allows movement while working, both sitting and standing, resulting in greater concentration and productivity. Remove shoes for a comforting relaxing foot massage. Features rubber feet that grip to keep it in place while in use on both hard surfaces and carpets.
- Worry Stones is designed to soothe and calm children, helping them to focus, concentrate and feel secure. By holding and/or rubbing a stone, a child’s sensory input is occupied, helping to relieve stress and anxiety, and freeing their mind to focus on the task in front of them.
- BouncyBand Portable Weighted Lap Pad is a sensory tool that offers deep calming pressure; increasing the ability to focus, relieving anxiety and stress. This blanket gives kids a comforting sense of security, a relaxing effect on the body and mind.
Which one is your favourite to have in the classroom?
The goal of an inclusive classroom is to give children a sense of belonging – what every child needs and deserves to have. It is incredibly impactful to establish an inclusive environment where everyone feels heard and valued. If you can make a child feel included, protected, and respected, they will always remember you as the teacher who had the most influence on them and carved a positive outlook for them. Isn’t that the greatest achievement?