Understanding Inclusive Teaching

Inclusive teaching is the art of trying to provide a learning environment where all learners feel valued and have equal opportunity to learn. Creating and maintaining an inclusive environment in any classroom is very important in keeping all of your learners happy and preventing them from feeling excluded. There are many ways in which to achieve this.

Varinder Unlu (2017) of "World of Better Learning" posted a list of the top five inclusivity practices to consider which I will paraphrase below:

“1) Create a supportive, respectful environment: promote diversity and fairness.

2) Have high expectations of all your students.

3) Create a supportive peer culture both inside and outside the classroom. Empower learners to respect and trust each other and reinforcing positive and pro-social attitudes by encouraging learners to help each other.

4) Plan learning which includes participation from everyone and encourages success.

5) Take a ‘community’ approach to learning and teaching. Inclusive values are developed through a student’s lived experience and their exposure to other cultures and world- views. Bring your community into the classroom and take your classroom out to the community.”

[World of Better Learning (2019)]

Understanding the roles and responsibilities within teaching as mentioned in my other post "5 Roles of a Teacher" can also aid in creating an inclusive learning environment both in the classroom and online when successfully achieved.

I think most of all it is important to be a good role model as this really helps set the standard of behaviour which encourages inclusion. If this is achieved then you can effectively discipline students who aim to disrupt the environment.

As a leader you can offer your learners the opportunity to share new technology or techniques that they have heard or read about with the rest of class, as it gives them a chance to learn from each other and share in joint discussion.

Another way to promote inclusivity is to get learners to help you discover the solution to problems you don’t know the solution to, in my experience being approachable like this makes the learner feel like they are more of an equal and involved with the teaching process. It also helps you gain the respect of the learners as they know that you respect them enough not to lie about knowing something.

One more role that works for me is the motivator role. I try to achieve this by expecting high standards from every learner! In the classroom I would try to assign students individual tasks (when appropriate) aimed at their skill set. In the online environment, I push learners to learn hard topics out of their comfort zone. When this works I get everybody in the class on task and create a fantastic learning environment.

I hope you enjoyed this post, please comment below with your methods of maintaining an inclusive environment. Thanks for reading!

Varinder Unlu (2017), World of Better Learning, Oxford University Press, http://www.cambridge.org/elt/blog/2017/11/15/create-inclusive-classroom-environment/, [accessed 15/11/2019]

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