Inclusive Education: It’s not more work, it’s different work! ~ Shelley Moore
A key step in the process of inclusive school reform is to rethink the use of resourcing. An effective way to do this is to create instructional teams of general education teachers, specialist teachers and teacher aides to serve all students inclusively.
Traditionally, special education service delivery models involve self-contained (instruction delivered to a class comprising only of students with disability) and pull-out responses (students withdrawn from classrooms to receive specialised instruction) that impact small numbers of students in isolation (segregation). This is generally represented in the following manner:
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Inclusive service delivery pushes services in, instead of separating or pulling them out. This model focuses on meeting the range of student needs within the regular classroom, and therefore increasing the number of students accessing and benefiting from the service. It also builds collaborative practice and teacher capability. This is generally represented in the following manner:
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The process of inclusive service delivery will require the adaptation of traditional roles. Such adaptations have been explored below:
School’s are often appointed specialist teaching staff to support the schooling experiences of students with disability and other diverse groups. In the inclusive schooling model explored above, the role of specialist teachers is transformed from one of teaching self-contained classes, to providing instructional and capability support within the general education classroom. This role transformation includes:
- Co-teaching (see further information below)
- Mentoring and supporting teachers to build and improve their capability to deliver inclusive pedagogies (see also Instructional Coaching on the Building Teacher Capability page).
- Assisting with the development of student plans alongside and in collaboration with classroom teachers, specialists, students and parents.
- Working specifically to address problems of practice that pose an individual, whole-class or whole-school barrier to successful inclusive schooling.
- Supporting the development of inclusive curriculum, assessment and reporting procedures
- Facilitating transition processes
- Collaborating with stakeholders and service providers
Specialist teachers can also utilise their inclusive expertise and regular teaching qualifications to teach general education classes. These occurrences may be utilised as observational opportunities for other teachers to view successful inclusive practice.
Co-teaching is the instructional arrangement in which two teachers deliver core instruction in partnership to one, general education class of students in a single physical space. Co-teaching partnerships require educators to make joint instructional decisions and share responsibility and accountability for the learning, management and outcomes of all students.
Co-teaching provides greater opportunity for a variety of instructional strategies to be implemented by two qualified teaching professionals. It decreases teacher to student ratios, increases response time and feedback, and provides increased opportunity to enact differentiation. Co-teaching supports collaborative practice, builds teacher capacity, and is responsive to student diversity.
Co-teaching provides opportunity for job-embedded professional learning for both teachers. It draws the strengths of content experts and inclusive experts together, allowing both to enhance their own practice through collaboration and ongoing modelled, shared and guided experiences within the shared classroom.
For more information on Co-teaching, access the following texts:
- Co-Teach! A Handbook for Creating and Sustaining Effective Classroom Partnerships in Inclusive Schools (second Edition) by Marilyn Friend
- 30 Days to the Co-taught Classroom by Julie Causton and Paula Kluth
Teacher Aide Support:
As with specialist teachers, schools may receive an allocation of Teacher Aides to support students with disability and other diverse groups of students. In an inclusive schooling model there is opportunity to think flexibly about how Teacher Aide allocations are utilised – instead pairing them with a teacher/whole-class, instead of individual or marginalised groups of students.
Class teachers must take responsiblity for the learning of all students in their class. The relinquishment of responsiblity from the teacher and/or student to the Teacher Aide may result in the following detrimental impacts:
- Non-teaching professionals teaching students with the most complex learning needs
- Separation of students from their class
- Interference with peer interactions
- Students developing an over-reliance on adult support
- Loss of student autonomy
- Stigmatising of the student
- Interference with teacher interaction
- Loss of independence
- Low-expectation and presumed incompetence
- Atypcial, high level of adult proximity
However, under the supervision of a teacher, Teacher Aides can provide valuable supplemental instruction, assistance and support. The teacher should partner with the Teacher Aide to plan their purposeful use in the classroom, and support them to work in a manner which enhances the inclusive experiences and outcomes of all students.
For more information on supporting effective teacher aide practice, access the following links:
- NZ Inclusive Education: Guides for Schools – Supporting effective teacher aide practice
- Teachers and Teachers’ Aides Working Together
- Maximising the Practice of Teaching Assistants
- All Means All – The Australian Alliance for Inclusive Education: Teacher Toolkit – The role of education assistants