Policies and legislation have set the standard for an inclusive education system that values all students, regardless of difference. As a preservice teacher about to enter into the teaching profession it will be my responsibility to cultivate optimum teaching and learning experiences that will support all students’ social, emotional and academic development. Whilst this task does seem daunting and challenging, it is also exciting to be one of the many pioneers who will contribute to an educational reform, resulting in the ideal of inclusive education.
Within my classroom there may be learners who are: visually impaired, hearing impaired, physically disabled, ADHD, ASD, bereaved, affected by trauma, or gifted and talented, only to name a few considerations. How will it be possible for me to provide access to learning that will enhance social, emotional and academic development for every student within my classroom? This paper will discuss ways that the teacher may set up the learning environment to maximise teaching and learning, highlighting some potential advantages and difficulties of implementing such practices as a new teacher.
Firstly, it is important that during planning I consider what it is all students need to learn and the best teaching and learning strategies available to deliver this content. It is argued by van Kraayenoord & Elkins (2009) that teachers should initially design and plan inclusive curricula, instruction and assessment using the concept of the Universal Design for Learning (UDL). This concept takes into account that all students are unique and have various strengths, weaknesses, and interests. However, rather than the teacher adapting curriculum to specific individual’s needs during planning the teacher should develop a variety of methods for lesson delivery; adopt various means for students to demonstrate mastery of a skill; and consider how all students will be actively engaged in the task at hand (van Kraayenoord & Elkins, 2009).
Consequently, having knowledge of this concept makes the challenge of providing an inclusive curriculum less daunting to me. In the past I have used principles of UDL for planning without realising. For instance, I have made considerations for the various learning styles that are to be catered to in lessons, thus enhancing learning and engaging students. Also, during one integrated unit, I provided students with a variety of options for how they would present their final piece, for example, building a model; creating an artwork; orally presenting; developing a PowerPoint; or developing a written piece, a narrative, poem etc. These are just minor pedagogical changes that have resulted in the diverse needs of more children within the class achieving than they would have through the traditional approaches. During future planning I will be able to create learning experiences which are more accessible to all students within my class as I use the principles of UDL. As a new teacher...