Effective Inclusion Strategies for Elementary Teachers: Reach and Teach Every Child in Your Classroom

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When the classroom environment encourages growth and development, students will respond. Instructionally effective environments offer youngsters a wide variety of powerful experiences, which include ways of interacting with and learning from one another in instructional areas that support experiential, problem-based, active learning. Creating such environments calls for the teacher to construct and allow cooperative, collaborative strategies.

Classroom design simply means arranging the room to make the best use of space and to create a comfortable learning climate—both physically and psychologically. Classroom management reflects the ways in which the teacher orchestrates high-quality instructional activities that help children take charge of their learning and eliminate unwanted behavioral and discipline problems. Our school system was invented to provide a sit-and-learn process of education. In , for instance, John Dewey reportedly described the difficulties he encountered during an exhaustive search for furniture "suitable from all points of view—artistic … and educational—to the needs of children.

You want something at which children may work; these are for listening. Amazingly, little has changed in U. Regardless of individual differences, many, many children are still expected to sit on a hard seat, not move, and not speak—just listen and answer questions. Research strongly supports the important role of environmental preferences in students' motivation and their ability to learn. The quality of the environment in which we live and work is vitally important.

Individuals tend to respond to their physical environment first in terms of personal comfort. Harmony makes it easier to concentrate and remember information. The proper use of space within a classroom generates student activity and learning. Room arrangement, for example, allows students to work at computer stations, engage in small-group work, engage in project-based learning, and use multimedia equipment for individual or group activities.

Appropriate classroom design empowers teachers to create instructional areas, such as learning and interest centers and media centers, that offer students varied learning opportunities and accommodate individual learning needs and interests. Well-designed classrooms display high levels of student cooperation, academic success, and task involvement. Teachers work to develop intrinsic motivation in students, which is essential to creating lifelong learners.

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Thus effective classroom environments create multiple learning situations capable of addressing students' diverse characteristics to enhance their satisfaction and academic performance. Such classes are child centered; they meet young people's instructional needs by exposing them to a variety of highly motivating, stimulating, multilevel instructional activities.

Current research in the functioning of the brain confirms that we learn best in a rich, multi-sensory environment.

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We learn more about people by interacting with them in real-life contexts. We learn more meaningfully when we are fully immersed in the learning experience. Therefore, we should provide students with active learning experiences that incorporate a wide variety of materials, including high-quality, well-written literature. Powerful learning activities are most likely to occur in a highly organized learning environment.

When orchestrating such a setting, it is important to keep in mind how instruction will be reinforced, reviewed, and enriched to extend youngsters' learning potential; how procedures for completing assignments, working, locating instructional resources, and acquiring assistance will be facilitated; and how students will evaluate their own performance and that of others. Making a classroom an effective educational tool depends on creating not only a physically comfortable environment that supports instructional goals but also one that is emotionally, socially, psychologically, and physically safe.

Classrooms should be places where a child can think, discover, grow, and ultimately learn to work independently and cooperatively in a group setting, developing self-discipline and self-esteem. At the heart of an emotionally safe learning environment is cooperation—among staff, students, and other stakeholders. Cooperation leads to ownership, involvement, and great opportunities for student self-discipline, says Jerome Freiberg —but first must come trust.

Students learn to trust through opportunities to take ownership of and responsibility for their own actions and those of others. Strategies to promote cooperation include establishing rules and regulations with the assistance of students for codes of behavior and conduct; talking about consequences of behavior; offering youngsters training in peer mediation and conflict resolution; creating rotating classroom management positions, with clearly outlined responsibilities; and helping youngsters develop norms of collaboration and social skills to enable them to work effectively in groups.

When children are truly engaged in learning and the approach to discipline is an active one, teachers do not have to waste valuable time dealing with disciplinary issues. When learning becomes less meaningful to students' lives, less interactive, or less stimulating, teachers increasingly need to control their students; in the process, they unwittingly create opportunities for undesirable student behaviors.

Teachers who try to impose too many rules, too much rigidity, and too many uniform activities quickly lose control. Teachers who can bring themselves to share power and confidence with their students gain more control. That is exactly why teachers should concentrate on creating conditions in which students can and will manage themselves. Kline for their contributions to this chapter.

Adams, M.

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