Tales from Real Life: The Inclusive Classroom
As a fledgling special educator, I witnessed the emergence of a new concept called “mainstreaming.” Students with special needs were brought back to home schools from segregated, special educational settings. Local districts would accommodate the learning needs of more and more of their own.
I implemented a then unique, state-of-the-art, instructional program called the Resource Room in my home district. In my program, students placed in regular classrooms would receive individualized learning support. The instructional model morphed to embrace the regular classroom teacher as well. He or she would be an integral part of the instructional team, responsible for refining practices to embrace various achievement levels and learning preferences within one classroom.
Teaching would never be the same. It would focus on the needs of students, not just those of the curriculum. “Inclusion” became the preferred way to address student differences. Students need not leave their class in order to learn.
Just as educators have grown to accommodate all students in the earlier grades, so must we in higher education. So long, Ivory Tower!
Our students need expertise and patience to help them develop tools to manage our disciplines and beyond. We reap rewards, too. As our students succeed, so do we. And our joy of teaching is enhanced.
—Suzanne Liff, Nassau Community College