Lesson 1.3 – Promoting social inclusion in the classroom
There are plenty of practical ideas for educators to promote the social inclusion in the classroom and CULPEER is only one of the sources to learn from.
Some ideas include organizing advisory periods (homeroom) and classrooms should have awareness programs on disability, fewer opportunities and difficult backgrounds at the beginning of the school year. In a heterogeneous class, one approach to involve all students about disabilities/abilities, emphasizing everyone's strengths, is having 2-3 "buddies" for students with disabilities or difficultbackgrounds to make sure they are included and seen as part of the mainstream, as well as to provide them with social-emotional and academic assistance.
This approach can be extended in a broader context, outside the classroom to all parts of the school building, the bus, and extracurricular activities. The "buddying" responsibilities could be even rotated by marking periods, ensuring that no student is isolated.
Other ideas are:
Increasing inclusion in elective classes, such as choir and art, by increasing the number of students with difficult background involved and engaged in these activities alongside students in general education programs. Again, buddying in these specialized classes is a very effective support strategy that benefits all involved. In some schools, servicing as a buddy can be counted as part of school service.
Creating events, clubs or moments in the class for students to talk and share on cultural and ethnic diversity. By including students with difficult backgrounds in these clubs or events other areas of diversity can be addressed and acknowledged.
Implementing a cross-age Reading program; most often, this is designed for kindergarten and upper-level elementary students to increase their vocabulary, develop their self-esteem and social skills, and enhance their love of books and reading. Students with difficult backgrounds can be either the reader or the recipient. In some cases, for example, older students without disabilities read to younger students with disabilities. In other cases, older students with disabilities read to younger students with and without disabilities.
Implementing a mentoring program where high school students mentor middle school students (with and without a difficult background) in an after-school program.
Developing inclusive Service-Learning Projects so that general education and special education students work together and reflect on service initiatives. Also implementing increased levels of professional development that focus on issues such as diversity and disability.
Also important: broadening school-wide recognition systems to include students with difficult background. Review and expand how to honour student achievements around civic responsibility and character, positive behaviour and resilience in the face of pressures. Always promote understanding on their background issues and have them give speeches and share their experiences in class or in bigger events.
Many other approaches for an inclusive education can be found in Edutopia, a trusted source shining a spotlight on what works in education. We show people how they can adopt or adapt best practices, and we tell stories of innovation and continuous learning in the real world.