Reaching Far and Wide: The Goal of Inclusivity

Dr. Rashmi Kumar is a Learning Specialist in STEM and works at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, USA. She has been recognized as a STEM Educator by the NASA Endeavor Project. SAGE is the proud publisher of her book “Teacher Education in the 21st Century”. SAGE has a fast- growing list of high-quality textbooks on education. Read on to understand the aspects of inclusive education.

Four aspects of inclusive teaching and learning

Inclusive education is about opening wide doors and reaching for the greater possibility. It is not about offering services at the minimum and sufficiently-enough levels; it is about providing the maximum to each student by removing the selective aspect of the pedagogical services. Yes, often, inclusive education gets a label that is indicative of remediation, deficiency, and minimal readiness. It can be broader, bigger, and bolder.

There are four aspects of making teaching and learning in PK-12 classrooms holistic, inclusive, and accessible for students who demonstrate not just unique learning styles, needs, and preferences, however for all students who could benefit from pedagogical variations in the classroom.

Reorganized TEACHING

The ways in which we teach should be humble and less pretentious. We need to teach in ways that enables students to perceive that the content is within the reach of their ability and cognition. Reorganized teaching seeks ways to simplify learning outcomes so that students can walk out of the classrooms thinking that on the following day they will have a better understanding of the content. For starters, start by focusing on the big, authentic, and enduring ideas that inform smaller details. Spend less time on perfecting the smaller details of content in classrooms.

Responsive TEACHING

Along with reorganized teaching, let’s raise the bar higher by integrating responsive teaching. This includes explicitly bringing learning platforms closer to students’ experiences, backgrounds, understanding, and aspirations. There is another aspect which is significant; it may seem paradoxical in nature at times. Teaching modes should allow for students to become independent thinkers capable of self-driven learning and at the same time be able to work collaboratively. The above might lead one to say, “How are these possible at the same time?” They are! These are not antithetical goals. In fact, they are corresponding aspects of the same goal.

Multimodal TEACHING

Multimodal teaching is simpler than it sounds. It pertains to mixing delivery of information through audio, text, and visual means. Using more than one resource increases learners’ understanding, retention and retrieval of the information. This is because of the associations and connections that are easily developed within students’ cognitive processes. Teaching is premised on intentional mixing up of resources such technology, art, mass media, and external print material. Organize classroom so that each working group includes students with varied strengths and proficiencies. Create assignments that encourage students to learn new skills and do not assign projects that pursue a narrow range of proficiencies. Over time, it will become easier to mix and match learning outcomes for the diverse needs of individual students.

Interdisciplinary and Interleaving TEACHING

We need to steer away from separate subjects and siloed teaching. Let us excite students by doing just the reverse. Create learning modules that are thematic and merge content from more than one subject. When content from more than one subject area is used simultaneously, it offers students higher chances of making logical associations between and among the different sources of information. It encourages students to “apply their knowledge in novel situations to solve new problems” (Kumar, 2018, p.9). The aspect of interleaving is increasingly associated with the notion of interdisciplinary teaching, wherein, more than one skill is co-targeted. Develop learning modules that target development of two or more skills e.g., decimals and geometry or writing and composing music.

Teacher Education in the 21st Century has adopted a broad and extensive interpretation of pedagogical goals of inclusion, inclusive education, and inclusivity.

From its inception, the book has focused on an abiding core belief which has been carried out by the three co-editors and eight contributing authors. From the early stages of writing and throughout the numerous conversations amongst the writers—both—in person and virtual, a deep commitment was made to focus on the notion of inclusive education and bring it to the forefront of discussions.

The book has purposefully expanded the ideas presented in the book to include the teaching of students on a wider scale of cognitive, physical, socio-economic, cultural, familial, as well as geographical attributes.

Our guiding objective was to present a renewed platform of teaching and learning for the widest groups of students in the Indian landscape. Our goal was to offer inclusive education as a mainstream aspect of teaching rather than one that supports it for specific sub-groups of students because of lesser developed learning attributes among students. Throughout each chapter, we have provided working models and examples to take into classrooms.

Read the SAGE Textbook Teacher Education in the 21st Century by Rashmi Kumar and get valuable insight on the demands of teaching in the 21st century for development of pedagogical practices.

You can check out the book here!

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Click here for the complete list of textbooks.

This article was originally published on University Express, on February 05,2019.


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