Best Practices for Inclusive Classrooms


Inclusion starts with the belief that all students have the right to feel safe, supported, and included at school. Inclusion allows students with disabilities to share a truly integrated learning experience in general education classrooms with their peers to the greatest extent possible.

All school staff have an important role to play in making inclusion services successful for all students. Collaboration among special education and general education teachers is especially critical in creating effective inclusive classrooms. While instructional goals are individually determined for each student with a disability, the same basic learner outcomes and standards apply to all students in an inclusive classroom. Many inclusion strategies are either modifications or accommodations.

When working towards inclusion, a number of factors should be considered, including:Teacher working with elementary school girl at her desk

  • The learning environment.
  • The lesson plans.
  • The presentation of the lessons.
  • The lesson materials.
  • The assessment of students' knowledge.

Many inclusion best practices for students with special needs often benefit general education students as well. Successfully implemented inclusion services can actually improve the quality of education for all students.

Some common and effective inclusion best practices you may want to try in your classroom include:

  • Using the principles of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) to create customized instructional goals, methods, materials and assessments that work for all students.
  • Cooperative learning and peer tutoring, which allow students to use their unique strengths to work as a team with their peers.
  • Tiered lessons that teach the same concepts with multiple levels of complexity built into the lesson, giving students the choice to learn at a level that challenges, but does not overwhelm, them.
  • Intentional teaching of learning strategies, so that special education students learn to be independent, and successful, in a general education setting.

It's worth the time you'll invest in making your classroom a place where every child can succeed!

These tips are from the Exceptional Child online course, Inclusions Services, authored by Kim Sax Halley, M.A.

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