In 2008, 62% of students with LD spent 80% or more of their in-school time in general education classrooms. In 2000, that figure was just 40%.* We’ve made significant process in using the inclusion model in our nation’s schools. Inclusion is another term for “mainstreaming” or merging special education with regular education classrooms.
There are many benefits to this model for children with learning disabilities. They have the benefit of learning in the “least restrictive environment” and the opportunity to be with peers and create bonds and friendships.
Teaching to a room full of unique students, however, is definitely a challenge. It is true that the inclusion classroom often has a minimum of two teachers -- a regular educator and a special educator. (The special educator role may often be filled by a paraprofessional or special education assistant.)
But it isn’t always easy for educators to share the classroom with another teacher, not to mention, the daunting task of teaching to students with a wide range of skills and learning styles. The results, however, are priceless. James Wendorf, NCLD’s Executive Director, states, "We've seen graduation rates and classroom inclusion rise more than 15 percent over the past 10 years. But we need to continue to empower parents and teachers, reduce stigma among kids, and keep education funding on the top of the education agenda if we are going to see those numbers increase, not decrease."
The following are some strategies that parents can request for their child and teachers can implement to make the inclusion learning environment comfortable and successful for all the students.
Eliminate all unnecessary materials from the student’s desk to reduce distractions.
Use a checklist to help the student get organized.
Keep an extra supply of pencils, pens, books and paper in the classroom.
Have an agreed upon cue for the student to leave the classroom.
Reduce visual distractions in the classroom.
Time Management and Transitions
Space short work periods with breaks.
Provide additional time to complete the assignment.
Inform the student with several reminders, several minutes apart, before changing from one activity to the next.
Provide a specific place for turning in assignments.
Break regular assignments into segments of shorter tasks. And, break long assignments into small sequential steps, monitoring each step.
Presentation of Materials
Provide a model of the end product.
Provide written and verbal direction with visuals, if possible.
Explain learning expectations to the student before beginning a lesson.
Allow for student to use tape recorders, computers, calculators and dictation to obtain and retain assignment success.
Limit the number of concepts presented at one time.
Assessment, Grading and Testing
Allow tests to be scribed if necessary and/or allow for oral responses.
Divide test into small sections.
Grade spelling separately from content.
Avoid time tests.
Permit retaking the test.
Provide an appropriate peer role model.
Develop a system or code that will let the student know when behavior is not appropriate.
Ignore attention-seeking behaviors that are not disruptive to the classroom.
Develop a code of conduct for the classroom and visually display it in an appropriate place where all students can see it, review it frequently.