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Inclusive education: 4 ways to get started without running out of steam

To improve the inclusiveness of your school environment, our collaborator Marie-Noëlle Marineau, community manager and project manager at CADRE21, presents some basic concepts to learn (or review) right away. 

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By Marie-Noëlle Marineau, Community Manager and Project Manager at CADRE21

Adopting a pedagogical posture that truly takes into account the diversity of learners may seem like an unattainable goal. In the context of an already busy school year where time to review recent studies on the subject is hard to find, it is important to remain realistic and see the challenge as a marathon rather than a sprint. 

In fact, creating a context in which a learner can have a positive, enriching and motivating learning experience is possible and probably easier than you think. 

In his 2017 report on inclusive educationThe Conseil supérieur de l'éducation (CSE) presents a continuum towards an inclusive school for all students. It includes integration, inclusion and inclusive education.

The CSE points out that the various Quebec schools are on this continuum, but that despite efforts, the goal of leading each learner to success is still incomplete. To improve the inclusiveness of your school environment, here are some basic concepts to learn (or review) now. 

1- Know the particularities of the learners

Knowing how to recognize certain learning disabilities in learners makes it possible to adapt teaching by practicing pedagogical differentiation (see the next point) so that each learner can develop and reach his or her full potential. The same is true for so-called "neuroatypical" profiles such as people with autism, those with attention deficit disorder or high potential learners. 

For many, access to technological aids to learning (assistive technologies) can reduce or eliminate barriers between them and the tasks at hand. In this case, care must be taken to ensure a harmonious combination of accessible digital educational resources, devices used by learners in the classroom, and the use of assistive technology for people with special needs.

2- Learn about educational differentiation

Differentiated instruction is an approach that combines several strategies to help learners reach their full potential. 

There are three forms: educational flexibility, adaptation (or adjustment) and modification. 

  • Educational flexibility is that flexibility where the teacher offers planned choices to all students during teaching and learning sequences. 
  • The adaptation represents adjustments to these teaching and learning sequences, but does not change what is being assessed. 
  • The modification refers to changes that modulate the teaching and learning sequences and that affect the evaluation criteria and expectations of the evaluation situation. In the context of modification, the level of difficulty of the situations is modified.

"Differentiation is not a bank of strategies, but rather a way of thinking about teaching and learning."
- Carol Ann Tomlinson, pioneer in educational differentiation

3- Learn the basics of Universal Design for Learning

Universal design for learning (UDL) aims to develop learners:

  • resourceful, knowledgeable, and skilled (by providing multiple avenues of representation);
  • focused on strategic objectives (by offering them several means of action and expression);
  • motivated and determined (by offering them several means of engagement).

This inclusive approach tends to put in place ways to respect the diversity of learners while taking into account their needs. It is based on the social model of disability, which states that people with disabilities are disadvantaged by external and environmental barriers. 

4- Create an enabling learning environment

Closely related to AUC, the enabling environment promotes a positive learning experience. Its origins lie in the capability approach of economist Amartya Sen (Fernagu Oudet, 2012). According to Sen, capabilities are different from capacities because the former are the result of a know-and the seconds, from the power do. The enabling environment allows learners to develop their autonomy, giving them the freedom to make choices, take actions, and reflect on their "capabilities" in their achievements.

While the individualization of support measures can increase the burden on teaching resources (and on all the actors in the educational community), the implementation of inclusive education ensures better chances of success for all without exhausting resources. 

An environment does not become inclusive overnight, but collective efforts to do so promote optimal learning for all.

For further

CADRE21 self-training courses related to the topics covered:

Other interesting readings on the subject:

The Spring 2023 issue of École branchée magazine will focus on the theme of Inclusive Education: Coexisting Diversities. Subscribe before March 31, 2023 to receive it.

About the Author

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