There exists a range of definitions of Inclusive Education. In context of this website, inclusive education is defined as beginning with all students attending and being supported to learn, contribute, and participate in all aspect of school and life within their neighborhood schools in age-appropriate, regular classes. The work associated with enacting inclusive education involves identifying and removing barriers to the presence, participation and achievement of all students, with a particular emphasis on those most marginalized.
This website focuses specifically on students with disabilities. To ensure education that is inclusive of students with disabilities, schools and education systems must focus on reducing systemic barriers, developing universal inclusive practices, and being intentional in ensuring meaningful school and life outcomes.
We must ask the difficult questions around why some students are marginalized by our education system and what we plan to do about that going forward. In doing this we aim to move toward addressing the learning needs of all students without stigmatizing difference.
Both individualized and universal level practices must be focused on but without a focus on these within a context of challenging current conceptualizations of disability and the general-special education divide we cannot go deep enough in the change process.
Doing this work is more than the sum of it's parts.
Inclusive education is about how we develop and design our schools, classrooms, programs and activities so that all students learn and participate together.
Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is an instructional design framework that addresses learner variability by facilitating the removal of barriers in the curriculum (Center for Applied Special Technology, 2011). Through intentional planning, those working in education can address the variability of learners’ ability to access and understand information, engage with content and instruction, and express what they know.
UDL better ensures that each students learning will be personalized.
My doctoral research focused on UDL implementation, including the development of an initial UDL practice profile.
The UDL framework reframes this juxtaposition of the general education curriculum and the individualization of the IEP by stating that the goal for all students is deep and sustained engagement in learning.
Curriculum goals that are focused on the mastery of learning can address both content and the skills necessary to engage with the content, such as the ability to collaborate, communicate, get along with others, and be a member of a community. More problem solving around barrier reduction to inclusive education is need for some students. Consideration needs to be given to their unique learning profile and how to ensure it fits within the larger context. I continue to explore this.
Part of this work has brought me to my involvement with University of Alberta's certificate program.
Good support for the inclusion of a student with a developmental disability must be intentional, individualized, mindful and flexible. It focuses on the intersection of a specific person and a specific place and role on a community pathway. Good support changes as the person and place change. It answers the question, What will support this person to be a full participant in what goes on here and to form good relationships with the other people here?
Key components of good support include: