Inclusive classrooms are becoming more important as our awareness of people, cultures, and societies grow. Because of this, we are provided with a lot of information, but this information is not always good. What people think they know can be misinterpreted and can lead to stereotypes, prejudice, and judgments on certain people, causing them to run the risk of isolation from accessible and general education.
But with inclusive classrooms on the rise, comes the need for a solution on how to best accommodate so many different types of students in the easiest and most efficient way possible. Accessible EdTech is just the solution we need!
Continue reading to learn how you can make your classroom more inclusive or see ViewSonic’s education solutions page for more classroom ideas!
Inclusive classrooms typically mean including more students with special needs, impairments, or disabilities only. However, we are seeing a shift for inclusivity to focus on more than just those with certain needs.
Sometimes inclusive classrooms can refer to taking the initiative to ensure that your classroom includes people of diverse races, economic backgrounds, varying cultures, and sexual orientations. It is to ensure that all these students are treated fairly and have access to technology and general education. Inclusive classrooms aim to close the gap between the have and have-nots and the prejudices we may have among each other.
What is an Inclusive Classroom?
Inclusive classrooms are typically defined as classrooms designed so that students with specials needs, disabilities, or impairments can learn among peers (who may or may not have certain needs) in age-appropriate, general education environments. While this is the most common use, inclusive classrooms are evolving to make sure that they are inclusive for different reasons, not just special education.
For example, inclusive classrooms may involve students with certain needs, but it is also to be considerate of students with different social and economic backgrounds, those who speak minority languages, have different religions as well as sexual orientations. Making sure a classroom is truly inclusive is important for healthy and prosperous student development.
If you would like to learn more about inclusive education and its benefits, here are 7 benefits and more that will show you why your class needs to be inclusive.
Who is Included in an Inclusive Classroom?
Inclusive classrooms are great because it means that everyone is included! Because inclusive classrooms encompass everyone, we can use their experiences, cultural knowledge, and personalities to build upon non-formal forms of education. Remember, inclusive classrooms are not intended to demoralize anyone but rather to expand and grow upon majority cultural norms.
When researching about inclusive classrooms, you may also hear inclusive classrooms referred to as multicultural education. Multicultural education just means that everyone, regardless of religion, sexual orientation, and so on are included in general education and are part of the curriculum.
Students who receive special education benefit greatly from inclusive classrooms. This is because many students with special needs, disabilities, or impairments are perfectly capable of being included in regular classes. Many of these students face perceptions that they are severely mentally disabled even if they have no learning deficits at all. This can cause teachers and even other parents to feel that they do not belong in general classes because of misconceptions.
Allowing these students into general classes ensures that they are on the correct path for educational expectations. They may not necessarily be on the same pace in the beginning, but that does not mean they are not capable of becoming so.
Some students, however, do have developmental disabilities or other situations that may mean that they cannot be included in an inclusive classroom due to specialized needs or pacing that the curriculum cannot adapt for. In the United States, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) implements what are called least restrictive environments (LRE). This states that learning or thinking differences should not keep a child from general education unless it is so severe that supplementary aids and services cannot provide the child with an appropriate and progressive education.
Racial diversity in an inclusive classroom means that the classroom is a multicultural space for students of all races and ethnicity. While there have been many court cases and laws passed to prevent segregation and other forms of discrimination in education, there are often microlevel prejudices that may segregate students into classrooms or with certain teachers. This can be because of behavior issues, economic associations, and other forms of prejudice.
Making sure you give students the chance for multicultural education has many different benefits. Some of these benefits are things like having a more open mind, exposure to different cultures, building empathy in the classroom, and building better communication skills.
Having racial diversity in the classroom also allows you to use more resources. You can easily provide more literature, movies, concepts, and games by people of varying racial backgrounds to help students become more well-rounded. If you have young learners and want to help them share their culture, check out Here Wee Read’s 2020 ultimate list of diverse children’s books.
Most school districts remove religion from core curriculum in general education classes so that no bias can happen. However, that does not mean that there cannot be religious diversity in the classroom. This can be as simple as acknowledging not all students celebrate Christmas, for example.
More so, it is important to not hold prejudice against students who practice other religions especially if they signify it by wearing religious garb like a hijab, for example. This also means being aware that certain foods or content may be deemed unacceptable for them. What is important is finding the happy middle ground so that no student feels left out but other students who follow the majority religion also do not feel left out or isolated for their views. Again, an inclusive classroom is for building and growth, not for shaming.
If you want to help your students learn more about the world’s religions, Education World provided lesson planning ideas for grades 6-12 to bring about more awareness. Check them out!
Including lessons and materials that demonstrate different sexual orientations is important for teaching students to be open-minded. By no means does this content have to be explicit content like you may find in health class, but it could include education on different types of families, varying literatures, and other scenarios that students with different sexual orientations experience is important. Even more so is explaining how these can result in hardships and how to deal with them. Results from the 2017 Youth Risk Behavior Survey showed that 33% of LGBT students had experienced bullying on school property while 27% experienced cyberbullying.
Students who are experiencing bullying will have poorer academic performance, lower self-esteem, and more likely to become bullies themselves. Even more so, students who are LGBT are more likely to experience homelessness and suffer from abusive situations. Making sure all students feel safe in their classroom is one of the many ways you can help your LGBT students.
Also keep in mind that LGBT students are not the only ones who can experience bullying. Any student may be bullied. Bullying is a major problem that can affect a student’s academic performance, surprisingly both for the bullied and the bully as well.
How Can I Become More Inclusive?
Creating a more inclusive classroom can be difficult if you are underprepared or do not have enough resources. Thankfully, modern classrooms are much easier to make inclusive than those in the past. This is because of technology. Educational technology, also referred to as EdTech, is an easy solution to help create this inclusive classroom.
EdTech allows teachers to easily breakdown barriers that can hold students back. Whether this is assistive technologies for students with certain needs or using video-assisted learning to help students understand minority traditions, all of this is much more accessible than ever before.
But also keep in mind that not every student has access to technology and the internet. Provide a solution for these students by talking to your administrators to provide city library cards or laptops so that the student can learn in a safe and comfortable environment.
How to Implement Strategies for Inclusive Classrooms
There are quite a few different strategies you can use to make your classroom more inclusive. However, with the use of EdTech, it is much easier to use diverse materials and share among different students.
Once you understand your student’s cultures and personalities, you can consider some different strategies and tech to add diversity and accessibility.
Video-assisted learning is a great way to help your classroom be more inclusive. This is because many videos were made with diversity in mind, so it is easy to find videos starring casts of children with different racial and ethnic backgrounds. Videos are also a tool to show situations to help students get a better perspective on their peers’ cultures and traditions.
Even better, there are great free resources and paid platforms like myViewBoard Clips, available for teachers. If you feel that videos may be helpful in teaching your students about one another, this article provides you with tips, insights, and a 6-step guide on how to use effective educational videos in the classroom.
Hybrid Learning implements synchronous lessons taught simultaneously in-person and online. This means that some students are in the physical classroom, while others are at home or other educational institutes. Hybrid learning is a great option for inclusivity as it helps break down geographical barriers.
Whether they are students with special needs, from lower economic backgrounds, or students with other needs, hybrid learning allows everyone to be present in the classroom, even if they are not physically there. It also allows for students to develop self-scheduling and self-confidence due to the need to collaborate and be fully engaged in the classroom.
Assistive technology (AT) is defined as any device, piece of equipment, or system that helps to enhance lives and accommodate people with special needs, impairments, or disabilities. While assistive technology can be low-tech or no tech at all, blending assistive technology with EdTech can help your classroom become more inclusive.
Using assistive EdTech can make it easier for you to accommodate and include students in that many of these tools act as supplements for students with certain needs. For example, augmentative and alternative communication like text-to-speech for students who are hearing impaired is an easy way to include those students in general education courses.
Promoting Collaboration Between Students
Promoting collaboration between diverse students is one of the best ways to make your classroom more inclusive. It makes students put aside any differences and work together for a common cause. However, effective collaboration can be difficult to achieve without the proper tools.
Digital whiteboarding is a great solution to this. Digital whiteboarding refers to the software used that includes whiteboarding functions like writing, drawing, and annotating. Oftentimes, this software is part of a software suite that also includes online and offline abilities for sharing and collaboration.
Education software solutions like myViewBoard give students the power to collaborate and share without the hassle of non-intuitive features. Not to mention, when it is paired with the ViewBoard, students are able to have a completely active and engaging lesson accommodating for all students.
Inclusive classrooms are important for several reasons. However, they are also apart of a large set of strategies that teachers can use to not only give all students better education but more opportunities for all students to use technology.
If you would like to learn more about our complete education solution, check out ViewSonic’s inclusive classroom solution for more information on how an inclusive classroom is just a fragment of your education ecosystem.
Also, check out our article 5 benefits of technology in the classroom to learn how technology can do more than just make your classroom more inclusive.