For readers not familiar with the term “Inclusion Classroom”, allow me to explain: There are two teachers in the classroom, the general education teacher and the special education teacher who will attend mainly to students with special needs. Parents may wonder whether the strategy is working and with good reason; their son or daughter may be failing a certain subject even with the support of another teacher.
It’s not the quantity that matters; you could have 10 teachers in the classroom and the results might still be bad. What is important is first, the teamwork between the two instructors. Second, the attitude of the student must be one of compliance in order to achieve progress. Last but not least, the settings must be adequate, that is, a moderate number of pupils, preferable no more than 22. This allows the free circulation of both teachers between desks and, at times, it allows the passage of a wheelchair if necessary. Of course, good lighting, pleasant temperature, and modern teaching tools are all contributing to a positive learning experience.
Let’s not forget that every youngster comes from a different background and possesses different levels of skills. If the teacher goes too fast, he (she) will leave half the class in the dust. If he (she) is too slow, the other half of the class will fall asleep.
The inclusion teacher walks around the classroom with one ear to his colleague and one ear to the students; not an easy task by any means. He or she must be careful not to hinder the academic progress by distracting students while, at the same time, he has to answer questions and guide those who falter. One of his most important tasks is to make sure accommodations and curriculum modifications are applied. For example, if a student has hearing problems, the inclusion teacher will make sure that the handicapped student sits close to the main teacher. If the recommendation is to read questions aloud to the student who may be dyslexic, this will be done with a minimum of distraction for other kids.
The modern tendency in education is to move special education students into the regular classroom instead of offering separate facilities. This means more work for the regular education teacher, hence the support with an inclusion teacher. The two of them must not only coordinate their teaching effort, they must also be compatible in character; a difficult goal for sure, but a necessary one for the good of the students and for the good of the school. Any personality conflict will affect the efficiency of the inclusion strategy and create a hostile atmosphere. In effect, some teachers simply resent the intrusion in their domain which they see as undermining their authority. Principals must be very careful to pair people who can work together smoothly and who can leave their ego behind.
The title of this article asks an important question; the answer lies in the careful choice of teaching partners. Some schools ignore this requirement and wonder at the bad results. Some teachers reject the concept and end up teaching the way they always do, leaving behind many students who simply cannot follow the pace. Parents would do well to meet all teachers and ask pointed questions regarding their children’s progress..or lack thereof!