Building an Inclusive Classroom Environment

inclusive classroomNovice teachers struggle in differentiating their instruction for special education students. Most new teachers I work with can remember their “Students With Special Needs” course in college, and being aware that there would be special education students in their classroom. They are not, however, prepared for the reality of how many special education students they would have, and the severity of their disabilities.

Many educators are overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of students identified as “Special Education.” The reasons for rising numbers are different depending on who you ask, as some people blame environmental factors such as family structure, drug/alcohol abuse, and even vaccinations. Others believe that the numbers are so much higher because we have become more adept at identifying students with disabilities.

Not only are there increased numbers of special education students, but increased numbers of students on 504 Plans, and increased numbers of students with allergic reactions to peanuts, bananas, latex, bee stings, and much more. These potentially life-threatening conditions can manifest themselves at any time with little to no warning.

Novices know that differentiation for special education students is the law, and that compliance is required. The issue arises when teachers try to implement accommodations and modifications. Some educators receive conflicting information from veteran teachers who confuse the concepts of “equal” and “fair.” Some experienced teachers hold on to the idea that differentiating instruction is not preparing special education students for the “real world” – which confuses their less experienced colleagues. Many newbies just want to know that what they are doing is ethical, fair, correct, legal, and in the best interests of the students.

Join middle school administrator Shannon Holden as he helps novices use accommodations and modifications to create an inclusive classroom environment where all students experience success. The webinar will begin at 5pm Eastern Time on Tuesday, May 10th. We hope to see you there!

shannon holdenThis post was written by Shannon Holden, middle school assistant principal. Shannon Holden has been a high school and middle school teacher and administrator, and a new teacher coach, in North Dakota, Texas, and Missouri for 20 years. He is the host of the New Teacher Help and TechTools for the Classroom communities on Follow him on Twitter @newteacherhelp.