Inclusive Schools

Why is it important to look at the inclusiveness of your school?

Many times co-teaching teams talk about their lack of success, but many times their concerns lead back to the philosophy of the school. Therefore, prior to co-teaching, teams should consider how inclusive their school is to assist them in identifying possible barriers that might exist related to co-teaching which may be systematic issues. For example, if the school does not embrace natural proportions, the idea that there should be an equal and heterogeneous distribution of students with disabilities, ethnic backgrounds, SES, etc. across teachers within each grade level that is representative of the school community, then the team might be stuck co-teaching in a class that has 50% of the students identified with a disability. If this is the case, a lack of a heterogeneous population in the classroom can impact the success of co-teaching.

How might you utilize the information you gain from analyzing the inclusiveness of your school?
This tool might be used for co-teaching teams to understand barriers that exist within the school that could impact a new relationship. This tool also might be used for the whole staff to rate how inclusive the school is and to consider 1-2 priority areas that might be used to move the school forward to a more inclusive environment.

What are some things you can do to try to increase the inclusiveness of your school?

The first stage to start the change process is to identify areas that need to be changed and then to set small goals that can be accomplished. If you use the survey as an individual team, then you might set goals of things you have the power to change within your team. If your entire staff evaluates the inclusiveness of your school, then collectively goals can be set to make changes. Think about how your school might master all the areas that are rated lower than a perfect score over the next 5 years. Then start with one specific area, and each year take on a new area. The change literature indicates that it typically takes 3-5 years for change to occur in schools. Therefore, goals should be reasonable and doable for the students who are included. 

Another idea to consider related to creating a more inclusive school is to partner with other schools in your district and see how they rate each area. If other schools score higher in areas than your school, then you might consider across school visits to learn from each other. If no school in your district is strong in a particular area, then you might need to make a visit outside of your district to learn some strategies to address this specific area.