Inclusion means that everyone, regardless of their abilities, disabilities, or health care needs, has the right to be respected and appreciated as a member of society. The strategies teachers use to promote an inclusive environment to make sure the regular education classroom appropriate for students with special needs is helpful for all students. Inclusivity also means that in a world of diversity, there is representation regardless of age, race, and religion.
Our mission at StickTogether® is to share inclusive experiences that foster inter-personal connections and collective achievement through making and creating as a group. Here’s how you can promote inclusivity in the classroom:
1. Offer a Diverse Library
Learning tools come in all shapes, sizes, and colors - including books. Books are made to mirror the lives of the readers. Showing students that their differences breed more similarities is essential to inclusivity. There is no better way to do this than to offer books that highlight different religions, languages, and beliefs.
Students will see that their belief, culture, or language that they have encountered are re at school. It can also encourage students to ask questions about new cultures or ideas that they have yet to learn about in school or at home.
Some great books include: “What If We Were All The Same” by C.M. Harris, “Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters” by John Steptoe, and “The Name Jar” by Yangsook Choi.
2. Include Diverse Content, Materials, and Ideas
When you are preparing lesson plans that involve discussions, scenarios, case studies, assignments, and exams, include language, examples, socio-cultural contexts, and images that reflect diversity. Whenever possible, select topics and materials that reflect ideals from underrepresented groups.
By creating socio-cultural contexts, it is easier for students to relate with. Making sure that students can understand your material is essential and engages their interest in topics. However, not every student has the same learning style. To support different learning styles, use visual, auditory, and physical tools to cater to students.
Being an educator does not stop when a student leaves the classroom. It is vital to help your students learn about the resources that are available to them, both academically and non-academically. There are many forms of assistance and resources that are available at educational facilities that can ensure students are set up for success. Not all students will be comfortable seeking out academic help or resources - however, providing them and their families access to this information opens the door for future conversation.
Regardless of the educational setting, inclusivity is important. Promoting an inclusive environment also encourages engagement in students. Promoting inclusion requires educators to learn about their students’ needs and create an environment that is prepared to address those needs - under any circumstances. Restructuring lesson plans to accommodate students with or without disabilities, offering a diverse range of classroom materials, and ensuring that all students are aware of their resources are ways to promote inclusivity inside and outside of the classroom.