Responsive and effective inclusion occurs when people work together collaboratively, create a common vision, explore their beliefs and attitudes, and develop school structures that support joint work.
Responsive and effective inclusion occurs when people work together collaboratively, create a common vision, explore their beliefs and attitudes, and develop school structures that support joint work. Such characteristics, when combined, create a collaborative school culture that provides the context for effective inclusive practices. To assess the collaborative culture of a school consider use of a (broken link) school culture survey.
Collaborative school structures that facilitate effective inclusive practices include the following: common and regularly scheduled planning time for collaborating teachers, clearly defined roles and responsibilities for all the adults who are collaborating, use of effective team meeting processes and the availability of various kinds of support for the classroom teacher. Such support is greatly enhanced when effective schoolwide discipline is an integral part of the school culture. Further, the appropriate level of specialized instruction that meets the variety of needs presented by students must be determined such as consulting teachers, co-teachers, effective use of related service personnel and paraeducators who are trained to provide instructional and/or behavioral support in the classroom.
Inclusive schools recognize that the least restrictive environment for many students with disabilities will be the regular education classroom with appropriate supports and curriculum adaptations. As noted by (broken link) (broken link), “For other students with special needs, the least restrictive environment that may help them reach educational goals may be part or full-time education in special classes, support programs, or schools.” (n.d., ¶ 7). Special educators and I.E.P. teams always consider the unique needs of each student and make educational decisions accordingly.
Creating a collaborative school culture is an ever-evolving process of change from the way schools have conducted business in the past. When we think of schools in the past, we see images of teachers working in isolation in their own classroom behind closed doors. Today, we see collaborative teacher partners, problem-solving teams, and flexible scheduling. Effective inclusive schools maintain a dedication to changing from an independent and teacher-isolated school culture to an interdependent, collaborative school culture. As Inos and Quigley (n.d., ¶ 7) suggest, meeting the unique and diverse educational needs of all students is the goal of inclusion. This goal presents an unprecedented challenge in educational history.
Inos, R.H., & Quigley, M.A. (n.d.). Research review for inclusive practices.