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This can be debated as being unrealistic and a barrier in our deliverables as we live in a fast changing world where we have little time to stand , stare or care. With inclusive education getting a push world - wide in many schools and universities, inclusivity in fact has become a niche area of policy of many big organisations striving to have their names listed as top employers. It's too wide a term to be discussed and therefore I would narrow down to share practices from my classroom teaching experience.
Thinking of it I encountered a plethora of situations in my training sessions where in I was forced to rethink about my methodology, materials and rationale to reach out to my audiences in a manner that they best learned. I vividly remember my upper intermediate group of students, a talkative and enthusiastic lot having signed up for a spoken English Course having different abilities. For instance one of them was very shy and introvert because he had a mild stutter. Another was hyperactive and always craved for attention. Neither was I trained to handle a mixed bag nor was I informed but left to stand up to the policy‘ of ‘bring inclusive’.
What really touched me was the expectations they had and the courage they had shown to be part of a mainstream classroom. I realised having a one-size-fits-all approach would take away their enthusiasm and render my sessions meaningless for them. I decided to make specific accommodations in instruction, assessment, classroom management, and differentiated teaching, focussing on their needs.The key to differentiation lay in collecting information and observation.So on the first day of class, I shared some information about my background, and tried to establish a rapport with them. I also gathered information about the class using a getting to know you activity. I collected information about students such as their name, year in college, reason for taking the course, previous exposure etc. I used index cards to collect this information and referred to the cards whenever I interacted with a student. I also collated the information and saved it for my reference.
Based on the premise that learners access information differently, I provided flexible and multiple ways to present information. For example, using PowerPoint as a visual supplement along side the verbal explanation. My students varied in their abilities to demonstrate their learning It was a spoken English class so I gave them multiple options to express their knowledge / understanding and their work. For example the ones who were vocal spoke in front of the class, some made a powerpoint presentation and spoke about the topic alongside . Some recorded their speeches and played it in front of the class.Giving choices, however, did not mean changing expectations. For example, the learning outcomes included being able to communicate confidently, so it was not possible to offer students the option of demonstrating their learning through a written assignment.However they had the flexibility to write and then express it verbally. This catered to everyone’s need and they felt comfortable and not left behind.
I also varied the learning activities and provided multiple ways to engage them, For example group work, pair work and individual work. With regard to assessment, I did not make it like a formal exam setting. I varied my assessments. For example I incorporated a range of tasks and let them choose what they wanted to attempt . For example collaborative presentations, individual speeches, presentations with partner etc. Giving them a variety of topics and the way they would like to share their learning proved pretty inclusive. They were clear about how they would be evaluated and graded. The assessment criteria were clearly set. The whole experience of teaching was very experimental and proved useful. That people with learning or other disabilities are marginalised as objects of public empathy was something inconspicuous .