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The Preview: Education

Open any holiday gift box to receive a special inclusion tip

Smiling child holding a gift box

Promoting inclusion of students with disabilities in your classroom needn't be arduous or time-consuming. Done right, implementing the principles of inclusion helps you fulfill mandates while genuinely enhancing the learning environment and experience for everybody.

See which area you or your school could use help in, and open the gift box for a tip you can follow to overcome obstacles standing in the way of your success.



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1. Think of every child as capable

Imagine the possibilities when you refuse to underestimate a child.

Dramatic cases in recent years—often made possible through the use of technology—have revealed the competence of children previously presumed to be limited in intelligence or ability.

Open this gift box for pointers on minor adjustments you can make to your language and mindset that will help you make sure no child's potential goes to waste.


Excerpted from

The Paraprofessional's Handbook for Effective Support in Inclusive Classrooms

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2. Debunk persistent myths about educators

Educators are beset by myths that can interfere with their ability to help pinpoint what is the best course to follow for a child.

Just as myths persist about parents, for too long, educators have been burdened by the myths that they are

  • super experts in their field
  • totally objective
  • free agents

Give yourself the gift of relinquishing unrealistic expectations and feel free to acknowledge that neither you, nor any other single person, can have total knowledge of the field, complete objectivity, or full freedom to act.

Excerpted from

You, Your Child, and "Special" Education: A Guide to Dealing with the System, Revised Edition

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3. Learn to incorporate special interests

What if—rather than extinguishing children's intense interests about certain objects or subjects—teachers incorporated those fascinations into lessons to motivate and encourage learning?

Pedro's Whale is the story of a boy who loves whales more than anything in the world. The adult or child reading this story will learn an invaluable lesson about making the most of different interests.

Discover all that you can accomplish by celebrating the special interests of the students in your class with these pointers from Pedro's Whale.

Excerpted from

Pedro's Whale
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4. Find a way for every child to communicate

If a child has no means of effectively communicating with others in the classroom, how can she interact with other students and how can a teacher understand what she knows?

A teacher who has little experience working with a student who is non-verbal or with limited language may not know where to start, but you needn't be intimidated.

Unwrap these hints for steps you can take to promote communication with and among all the students in your classroom.

Excerpted from

"You're Going to Love This Kid!" Teaching Students with Autism in the Inclusive Classroom, Second Edition
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5. Think like an OT to create a learning-friendly classroom

A dream day for a teacher would start with a classroom full of children who are alert, relaxed, and ready to focus on learning.

Some children may start their day this way but for other children, even sitting in the classroom can be a challenge. The flicker of the lights bothers them, the bustle of the next class over distracts them, or the scratch of the shirt tag on the back of their neck keeps them from being able to concentrate.

Uncover steps you can take that will make it easier for children with sensory processing issues to settle down, and improve the general learning environment for everyone.

Excerpted from

Teaching the Moving Child: OT Insights That Will Transform Your K–3 Classroom
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6. Coach children with "different speeds and different needs"

Anyone who wasn't a super athlete in school knows how it feels to be left out of a game or unable to measure up. But the benefits of physical activity are too great to leave anybody on the sidelines.

As with any child, students with disabilities have a wide range of skills and learning styles.

Get coaching hints on how to include students with specific disabilities in physical activities and learn how to also make adaptations for individual differences.

Excerpted from

Different Speeds and Different Needs: How to Teach Sports to Every Kid
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7. Take a page from an ABA specialist's playbook

For decades now, applied behavior analysis (ABA) has been the intervention of choice for children with autism because, frankly, it's been shown to work.

Now, ABA-inspired procedures are beginning to make their way into general education classrooms. You don't have to be an ABA specialist to make use of these tools in your classroom.

Get a feel for how ABA works in these sample steps illustrating how to assess needs, select goals, and create a teaching plan for improving students' social interaction.

Excerpted from

Bringing ABA into Your Inclusive Classroom: A Guide to Improving Outcomes for Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders
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8. Clearly define team members' roles

In schools where administrators have decided to adopt a schoolwide model of inclusion such as the Beyond Access Model, clearly defining the roles and responsibilities of the members of a student's IEP team is critical to success.

Who are the members of the IEP team at your school? What role does each member play?

Try these suggested responsibilities on for size. The roles recommended here under the Beyond Access Model are meant to optimize each team member's contribution and enable the team to move forward together toward the best outcomes for the student.

Excerpted from

The Beyond Access Model: Promoting Membership, Participation, and Learning for Students with Disabilities in the General Education Classroom
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9. Take a snapshot of your school's inclusion status

Research on the implementation of inclusion suggests that sustaining effective inclusion practices requires a schoolwide commitment.

Inclusion is successful when establishment of structures are integrated into the overall mission of the school—and not just a special project driven by the vision and energy of selected individuals.

Use this tool as a first step by taking a snapshot of the status of inclusive education at your school to enable everyone to begin from the same objective starting point.

Excerpted from

Leadership Strategies for Successful Schoolwide Inclusion: The STAR Approach
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10. Special Circumstance: Provide the right kind of support for grieving students

A child who is grieving can experience a particular type of isolation, which can be magnified around the holidays.

Teachers may wonder what to expect if one of their students experiences the death of a family member or someone close. Although we can make many generalizations about what children typically go through, it is important to remember that children grieve in individual ways, just as adults do. Grief is different for every child and each unique circumstance.

Follow these tips to give a gift to a child who is grieving and help him or her feel less "apart."

Excerpted from

The Grieving Student: A Teacher's Guide

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