If your child is struggling in school, you might ask if he can be placed in an inclusion classroom. In an inclusion classroom, a general education teacher and a special education teacher work together to meet the needs of students.
Many schools have inclusion classrooms. Some have a special education teacher in the room at all times. Others have special education teachers “push in” at specific times during the day, depending on the IEP goals for the special education students. In either case, both teachers are available to help all students.
These classrooms give special education students the support they need while they learn alongside their general education peers. Studies show that general education students also benefit from the resources available in an inclusion classroom.
If your child’s school has an inclusion classroom at your child’s grade level, this can be a good option if you’re not ready to have him evaluated for learning and attention issues. It can also be a good option if you’ve already had him evaluated and he didn’t qualify for special education services.
Benefit #1: More Teachers = More Assistance
The general education teacher and special education teacher often work together to teach and manage the class. This arrangement is often called collaborative team teaching. With two teachers in the classroom, it’s easier for students to ask for and receive help. More adults on hand can also help keep order in class.
Benefit #2: Supportive Strategies
The teachers weave in specially designed instruction and support that can help students make progress. For example, while one teacher works with some of the students, the other teacher may work with a smaller group to review material. This can be helpful to students with learning and attention issues. Kids are given opportunities to move around to release excess energy. Also, the teachers may create classwide or individualized incentives for positive behavior.
Benefit #3: A Variety of Teaching Approaches
Inclusion classrooms can accommodate children with a wide range of learning styles and needs. Teachers meet everyone’s needs by presenting lessons in different ways. For example, they may use a lot of visual aids to add interest and increase understanding. When teaching math, they may build the lesson around manipulatives such as cubes or colored chips that can help kids learn new concepts.
Some inclusion classrooms use an interactive whiteboard, which is a bit like a computerized chalkboard. Kids can use their fingers to write, erase and move images around on the large screen. This teaching tool can also be used to turn students’ work into a video, which can be exciting for kids and help keep them engaged.
One of the key teaching strategies in inclusion classrooms is to break students into small groups. This way, kids can be taught according to their particular learning style and ability. This is called differentiated instruction.
Benefit #4: Access to Learning Specialists
In addition to having a special education teacher available, an inclusion class often brings in reading specialists and other service providers. These professionals may have particular insight into what’s challenging for your child and how he can be helped.
Benefit #5: Resources, Resources and More Resources
Budget constraints mean that schools often have to pick and choose where they’ll spend money. In some school districts, inclusion classes are often the beneficiaries of extra support and resources. These might be the rooms that get the laptops, the interactive whiteboards or the innovative alternatives to old-fashioned textbooks. If free tutoring is offered after school, kids in the classroom with the greatest needs may get to be first in line.
If you’re thinking about requesting an inclusion classroom, keep in mind that every school district has its own philosophy about which general education students should be placed in this type of classroom. Some assign children randomly. Some select the most advanced students, who may benefit from the emphasis on meeting the needs of all learners at all ability levels.
For students who qualify for special education, an inclusion classroom can be a great alternative to a general education setting or a self-contained setting that is just for special education students. Some districts also see an inclusion classroom as a supportive place for students who are struggling but who don’t qualify for special education.
Talk to your child’s school about the supports and services that might be available in an inclusion classroom. If you think this would be a good place for your child, it can’t hurt to ask. Chances are the school will think it’s a good idea too.