Before the start of the 2023-2024 School Year. The Teachers at RMA spent 2 weeks preparing the classrooms and learning with professional development sessions. One of the sessions was on inclusion. I would like to share with you some of what we learned:
Most of us have probably heard the term “Inclusion”. Inclusion in education refers to ensuring students with physical, behavioral, or learning differences are integrated into general education classrooms as much as possible. It also means providing them with the support and accommodation they need to succeed alongside their peers. What you may not know, inclusion is for all children, not just those with diagnosed differences.
There have been 30 years of research that inclusion helps everyone. Through inclusion, children learn empathy, friendship skills, peer models, problem-solving skills, positive self-image, and respect for others.
Unfortunately, it happens that there can be a few barriers to Inclusion Education. These are typically the leaders’ and teachers’ attitudes, the belief that Inclusion takes too much time, and the need for knowledge, understanding, and strategies.
The barriers to Inclusion Education can be overcome!
RMA is working on this by expanding professional development opportunities such as school-based workshops, books to read, websites to visit, consultation, and coaching. There also can be obstacles and barriers in the environment. RMA teachers are working towards being flexible with changing the environment, sequencing, task analysis, and making observations about the child in the natural setting. This leads to a more supportive environment for every child. The goal is to modify the classroom and materials, and not change the child. The idea that one lesson fits all is outdated.
We are seeing what some are calling a “new normal” in our classrooms. Teachers with 20 years of successfully leading classrooms, who are biased, and have seen great outcomes with their traditional ways of teaching, may be finding this shift in the way children are learning and emoting difficult and harder to offer successful outcomes with their tried-and-true methods. RMA is working to understand and accept this new normal and modify our methods to find new success for all.
RMA’s continued commitment to education and deeper understanding of inclusion will benefit all. RMA teachers will create efficient and successful strategies that reduce stress and minimize challenging behaviors in less time. Our adoption of increased inclusionary practices will also strengthen our whole community of leaders, educators, families, and especially students. Our goal is to partner with the support the child needs and provide those learning experiences in the Montessori classrooms.
Sonali M., August 2023