The Relationship Between Diversity and Inclusion
For each student to learn and participate in the classroom, all boundaries and barriers must be found and resolved. This helps to promote inclusion, diversity, and equality at both an individual and classroom levels.
It is very important to know each student properly, and his or her identity must be clearly defined in order to adequately promote inclusion. This should be done during the enrollment. Information may be gathered from IEPs, 504 plans, specialists, social workers and school psychologists, physicians, outside agencies, former classroom teachers, past school records, and interviews with both the parent and the student in question.
Inclusion is not limited to students with disabilities, however. Other situations that contribute to learning barriers must also be considered, This includes–but is not limited to–financial problems, family relationships, travel issues, peer pressure, culture pressure, and lack of resources.
This information gathered is important for identifying diversity and inclusion strategies to enhance learning experiences. For inclusion to be successful, classrooms should be diverse and should be open to all students, irrespective of their problems, special needs or disabilities.
Steps for Promoting Inclusion and Diversity
There are a variety of diversity and inclusion strategies that teachers and other school staff may employ to promote successful learning for all students. Here are just a few suggestions:
Targeted Lessons: Targeted lessons must be carried out during the orientation stages, to educate students about diversity and inclusion. This can be done through seminars, workshops, forums, etc. The teachers must also be trained and coached on handling such cases.
Evaluation: Current practices must be re-evaluated to determine their strengths and weaknesses. Regular diversity updates must be carried out in staff meetings and the plan must be continuously updated. As mentioned above, data must be collected regarding the special needs of each student in the classroom. Additionally, an annual report must be generated to all teachers that include information and training tips.
Strategic Action Plan: Inclusion and diversity can be promoted through a strategic action plan. This action plan would set out rules, benchmarks, and expectations for staff and teachers. Each department must be encouraged to have their own plan that must be evaluated on a timely basis. An officer must be appointed to keep track of all issues and updates in the diversity and inclusion plan.
Professional Development Opportunities: Various opportunities must be created for all students to develop professionally. Sports, internships, and other programs must be organized to include all students in spite of their special needs.
Recognizing the Need
It is important to remember that, regardless of the other steps taken, the most important way to promote inclusion and diversity is by first recognizing it. In a classroom setting, both teachers and students must be equally involved in the strategies designed to ensure that all are able to learn in the least restrictive environment possible.
- The information offered in this article is based on the author's extensive experience teaching in an fully-inclusive classroom setting.