Inclusive education – reflections on the most successful options for all learners

Here’s a video on a few of my reflections on inclusion prompted by today’s discussions on options for learners with autism.

You can also view the “Inclusive education” video with its’ interactive transcript on YouTube.


So just come out of the 4th day of class here. And again, great big days.

I think that there have been two things that have been huge today.

One kind of around my own values and beliefs and that’s really been about my understanding of inclusion and equity. And when I’ve thought about inclusion I’ve held really tightly to this idea that inclusion is about providing a student with whatever they need in a setting that works for them. And tied in with this has been the idea of parent choice.

And in my head that’s worked itself out as being, if a parent wants to send their child to a special school or into a special class in a school or in the regular classroom, then all good. And I’ve defended that really vigorously.

But it’s been really, I’ve been really challenged here by looking at the data that sits around student achievement around segregation.

And here in Massachusetts, they’ve just done, they’re in the middle of it, but the data that has come out so far that students with special education needs in general education classes are achieving so much more highly that those either fully segregated or in partially segregated settings.

And so the concept here, of special schools is, that that’s not the way to go.

Which is really interesting when you think about parent choice. But maybe if that idea of parent choice also in that dialogue was where students are most successful, maybe that’s an interesting thing to bring to the table.

And in reference to Universal Design for Learning, this idea of way of working, that within a setting, if you’ve got students with special education news in your class, which everybody has, then you collectively as a school team or as a teacher team problem solve around the student with the most significant needs first. And then your problem solving around that student will benefit the whole of the class because of what you put in place [for everybody] and that is where you begin.

And so the UDL is really about the learning environment, but that you plan it, you begin to plan it from those with the most significant needs.

And then the other player in that mix is the need to really understand the kids in your class and your school and where they come from, their backgrounds and cultures and then that you act on that in the way that you organise your environment. You’ll have specific goals, but then your teaching method, your instructional methods, your resources, your assessments.

Yes, so that’s been really huge today. Obviously much more in-depth but not so appropriate to chat about here.

And the other big thing today has been making international connections and so talking with educators today from Chile and Guatemala, from Spain and also other connections in Europe and this beginning of an international network for work around Universal Design for Learning.

On Monday, here in Boston and up at CAST, which is the Centre of Assistive Technology, is the 1st International Roundtable for Universal Design for Learning at CAST. Where the conversation is about how can we work strategically together, to look at the work has been going on here in the States. Because you can’t just transfer what is happening here to other countries. But how can we learn from each other in the way that we cross cultures, especially both in language but also in context.

Huge. back together tomorrow morning and a big kind of Sharatorium and then yeah, that will be it.

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