“Inclusive Education: It’s not more work, it’s improved work!” ~ Loren Swancutt
The rethinking of resourcing is a crucial component in the realisation of inclusive education. Traditionally, targeted resourcing models for students with disability have centered on medical model and deficit approaches. However, with some careful consideration and flexibility, this resourcing approach can be reimagined at the school level to support inclusive practices.
Traditionally, special education service delivery models involve self-contained (instruction delivered to a class comprising only of students with disability), pull-out responses (students withdrawn from classrooms to receive specialised instruction), and push-in support (identified students receiving one-to-one or small group assistance within the classroom) that impact small numbers of students in isolation (segregation). This is generally represented in the following manner:
Inclusive service delivery focuses on the variability yet predictability of student diversity, and provides ongoing responsive support. This model focuses on meeting the natural and ever fluid range of student diversity within the regular curriculum and classroom environment, therefore increasing the number of students accessing and benefiting from the service. It also builds collaborative practice and teacher capability, and supports the enactment of a Multi-tier System of Supports. This is generally represented in the following manner:
The process of inclusive service delivery will require the adaptation of traditional roles. Such adaptations have been explored below…
Special Education Teachers:
School’s are often appointed special education 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 special education teachers is transformed from one of providing segregated support and teaching, to providing instructional and capability support within the regular classroom. This role transformation includes:
- Co-planning and collaboration
- Co-teaching (see further information below)
- Mentoring and supporting teachers to build and improve their capability to deliver inclusive pedagogies
- Assisting with the development of student plans alongside and in collaboration with classroom teachers, specialists, students and parents
- Supporting the identification, implementation, and review of adjustments
- Teaching instructional intervention programs (eg. targeted reading instruction)
- Working specifically to address challenges 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
Special education teachers can also utilise their pedagogical expertise and regular teaching qualifications to teach regular curriculum classes. These occurrences may pose 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 universal design for learning principles, differentiation, and adjustments. Co-teaching supports collaborative practice, builds teacher capability, and is responsive to student diversity.
Co-teaching provides opportunity for job-embedded professional learning for both teachers. It draws the strengths of both teachers together, allowing them to enhance their own practice through collaboration and ongoing modelled, shared and guided experiences within the shared classroom.
Teacher Aide Support:
As with special education 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 of pairing them with individual students or small groups, they can be assigned to a teacher/whole-class.
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:
- Making Best Use of Teaching Assistants
- NZ Inclusive Education: Guides for Schools – Supporting effective teacher aide practice
- Teachers and Teachers’ Aides Working Together
- Maximising the Impact of Teaching Assistants
- All Means All – The Australian Alliance for Inclusive Education: Teacher Toolkit – The role of education assistants