Ensuring That Instruction Is Inclusive for Diverse Learners
The conduct of humans has a propensity to repeat itself in predictable ways. This means that if we are not careful, as teachers, we will start teaching the same topics year after year in exactly the same way. This is convenient for us, but it may lead to a rigorous curriculum that isn’t going to work for all of the children. Traditional classrooms are already curriculum-centered, so they aren’t easily adaptable to the varied requirements of individual students. Instead, it is expected of the pupils that they would conform to the curriculum.
As a special education teacher, one of my responsibilities was to assist students who were identified as having a learning disability in gaining access to the general education curriculum. Because of this, I regularly found myself co-teaching with a math or English instructor. It is common practise to provide learning accommodations and support services to students who have learning difficulties and who are enrolled in general education classes. In my experience, however, the reverse of inclusion can occur when these allowances are combined with a conventional, stringent curriculum, which places limitations on how the adjustments can be implemented.
If a teacher is put in this position, they may experience feelings of frustration due to the high levels of stress and often an unreasonable amount of work that result from trying to accommodate each child on an individual basis. Students with learning differences often feel singled out, and as they get older, they may reject accommodations in order to fit in, even though this means forgoing supports that could help meet their learning needs. This is another issue that I observed at the middle school level. Despite the best efforts of teachers, students with learning differences often feel singled out.
The vast majority of students have varying requirements, thus it can be challenging to devise a curriculum that fulfils the needs of every student while yet being manageable for the instructor.
Through collaboration, the teacher of general education and I would figure out methods to modify and adjust our respective pedagogical approaches to meet the requirements of our respective classes. We made adjustments to the way we taught depending on what we discovered worked well and what didn’t. We put what we had learnt to use by developing a curriculum that was adaptable to the requirements of individual students.
The foundation for all of this work was the well-known and adaptable concept known as Universal Design for Learning, which can be implemented in any classroom to make the material being taught more accessible to the students there.
3 WAYS TO IMPLEMENT UNIVERSAL DESIGN FOR LEARNING
1. Teach content in a variety of different ways, including the following: The “normal” student is taken into consideration when the lesson is planned in a classroom that follows more traditional educational practises. There is typically just one method, such as a lecture or a slide presentation, that can be used to teach the content to all of the students.
Instead, you should make an effort to organise the class while keeping all of the pupils in mind. Conduct a poll among the pupils to find out what they are familiar with and what inquiries they have regarding the new material. Make use of such information to help structure the teaching process and make the lessons more relevant to the pupils. Alternating between different modes of delivery for the direct instruction component of your class is another option. For example, during one session, you could show the students a demonstration or a video clip; during another, you could have them participate in stations or listen to a podcast.
If at all possible, incorporate more than one instructional strategy into a single class, and keep in mind the many learning aids that your students could require. If the kids are going to be roaming throughout the room, each learning centre should have a specific objective and well-defined procedures. If they are listening to you or a podcast, it may be beneficial to present them with an outline upon which they can write notes or sketch graphics while they listen to either of those mediums. When they are reading texts, you have the option of letting them partner read or using technology to change the font and the size of the text.
2. Give students options to choose from in order to maintain their level of interest. Give students the opportunity to pick an activity. They had the option of practising in a group setting, answering questions on their own and receiving feedback on their performance, playing a game, or acting out a scenario as part of the guided exercise. They could choose to demonstrate their comprehension of a topic by developing a poster or building a model, composing a paper, producing a video or podcast, giving a presentation, or any combination of these options. They are better able to relate to the material in a way that piques their attention when they are given choices.
In addition to instruction, teachers can frequently provide students with opportunities to participate in additional classroom activities. For instance, you might be able to offer students flexible seating options, which would enable them to select a secluded part of the classroom in which to complete an assignment independently; alternatively, they could choose to sit at tables for group work; alternatively, they could grab a seat in front of a computer in order to watch a video, print out a new worksheet, or read a digital textbook.
3. Make accommodations available to all students Instead of only providing accommodations to students who have an individualised education programme (IEP) or a section 504 plan, consider the accommodations that students with these types of plans typically require and make them available to all students.
For instance, if you frequently have students who need a copy of the notes, you can make it easier for everyone to access those materials by posting each slide presentation and assignment on a website such as Blackboard or Google Classroom. This makes it possible for more people to view the materials. Students who are unable to attend class, who misplace their copy, or who struggle to take notes can utilise the notes and documents that are provided online. Having documents easily accessible online also makes it simpler for parents, educators of kids with special needs, and paraeducators to assist pupils, without adding additional work for the classroom instructor.
Another example would be instructing students on how to utilise a free text reader such as the Read and Write extension for Google Chrome or a voice-to-text tool such as those that are available in Google Documents. Both of these options are available on the Google platform. Students have the choice to not utilise them, but they are a helpful option for students who have a condition that makes it difficult for them to write or who happen to remember information better when they hear it rather than when they read it.
Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is a teaching methodology that makes it possible for educators to shift their focus from the content being taught to the students receiving that instruction. This is accomplished by designing classrooms that are friendlier and more adaptable, as well as providing instruction that is more readily available to all The student should be more individually accountable for their own learning as a result of flexible instruction. Rather than the teacher expecting all students to learn in the same way, the student sets their own goals for how they will learn the required material.
The student not only learns knowledgeable about the material, but also about their own learning process. This is the skill that will allow them to learn the knowledge that is necessary for any endeavour they decide to pursue, even after the content has faded from their memory.