Schools are continually seeking ways to maximize the learning experiences and outcomes for all students — and this goal is particularly true in special education classrooms. Using culturally inclusive and differentiated instruction for students with learning disabilities can foster a sense of belonging and alleviate any feelings of isolation and loneliness.
The Master of Arts in Special Education with a concentration in General Curriculum K-12 online program from Norfolk State University can strengthen educational foundations with an emphasis on inclusive and differentiated instruction. This program can help grow skills, promote inclusion and accommodate learners of differing abilities. Graduates will be ready to pursue careers as special education instructors, early intervention specialists, special education coordinators, teaching specialists, special education curriculum developers and more.
How Inclusive and Differentiated Instruction Can Improve Learning
Inclusive instruction welcomes students of all cultures and abilities to create a sense of community. This teaching pedagogy strives to meet the needs of every student and support their engagement with appropriate content. Differentiated instruction involves tailoring instruction practices to maximize the learning style of every student, including those with learning disabilities. Educators who differentiate their instruction typically use an assortment of teaching methods and instructional approaches, adjust assignments to meet individual student needs, provide a variety of options on how a student can demonstrate their knowledge and modify instruction as needed according to assessments.
As the research cited above indicates, when multicultural inclusive learning is done well, the entire class benefits. This approach allows non-disabled students to understand, collaborate and value differing perspectives. How students view their classmates who may learn and look different from them is important as they grow. It’s critical that students live, play and learn among a diverse group of people, regardless of ability or disability.
Implementing Inclusive and Differentiated Instructional Practices
Once the classroom is inclusive, implementing differentiated instructional practices will take time and effort. Adjusting standard-based instruction and assessments by evaluating individual baselines for each student and delivering tailored information and content are the first steps. Here are a few ways teachers can differentiate instruction:
- Read text together and answer questions
- Connect vocabulary terms with their definitions
- Show the difference between fact and opinion in a story
Providing an inclusive environment involves teaching students, regardless of background or ability, and allowing them all to benefit from the process. Here are a few approaches to fostering a welcoming, culturally inclusive classroom:
- Learn how to pronounce the names of all students
- Schedule informal meetings with each student
- Allow in-class time for questions, stories and communication
- Interact with the parents and incorporate them in the process
- Let students make a personal connection with educators
Benefits of Cross-Cultural Engagement for Students and Their Families
When schools and teachers are deliberate and motivated to connect with students and their parents, all parties feel involved and valued. Using culturally competent strategies to communicate with students and their families from diverse cultures helps to pave the way for meaningful student engagement and better outcomes. Cultural background impacts many biases or misunderstandings that students and families may have about learning disabilities. Inclusion can help them challenge their preconceptions and appreciate those from different cultures.
Teachers can become qualified as leaders to help exceptional learners reach their potential with an advanced degree in special education with a concentration in general curriculum for K-12 grades. Make a difference in the lives of students with learning disabilities by applying alternative teaching strategies, multisensory approaches and differentiated instruction.