For students, the most important part about going to school is being a part of the social environment. To feel like a “part of the group”. To feel like their thoughts, opinions, and contributions matter. To feel like they matter. Inclusion is crucial in the classroom; it promotes effective learning and teaching, helps build better relationships between educators, students, and parents, and promotes better social development for students. There’s no denying the importance that inclusivity holds, and it’s equally important that students with disabilities don’t miss out on the incredible opportunities that it offers.
For both parents and educators, inclusivity can feel scary and a bit challenging, and it just seems so much easier and safer to lean towards self-contained classroom environments for students with disabilities. After all, it’s been in practice for so long that clearly, it’s the more effective route, right? Wrong.
According to speech-language pathologists Wendy Gunter and Carrie McDowell, it’s very important that students with disabilities reap the rewards of inclusivity as well. They shouldn’t be closed off from their peers and kept separate from them. The two have worked in several different educational settings across different states, teaching educators how to implement inclusivity in their classrooms and speaking with parents about the benefits it offers to their children. They attest to the positive effect that it has on students with disabilities; in every single classroom they’ve worked with, students have gained a better working relationship with their peers and teachers, they’ve become more independent, their communications skills improved significantly, and they’re more eager to participate in the classroom.
Wendy Gunter is a speech pathologist in the U.S. Pacific Northwest who specializes in providing services to people with complex communication needs. Carrie McDowell worked in education for almost 20 years before switching to speech pathology, where she’s been working for the last eight years.
Inclusivity in classrooms lead to more effective, efficient, and joyful learning experiences for both students and educators. A school is an environment built on learning, but to promote better learning, students need to feel like they are included in this environment. Join us as we discuss the benefits of inclusion, and how parents and educators can help promote inclusivity in the classroom!
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Special thanks to Wendy and Carrie for joining me this week. Until next time!