Classroom Planning with Success in Mind!
In a recent classroom, I had a student from a non-English speaking background, a student diagnosed with diabetes on medication, a student with dyslexia, another student with a non-specific learning disability, a student with … well you get the picture.
If you are a classroom teacher you would already now be going through your own list of all the individual students with needs in your classroom! Of course, they each come with an ILP (or ELP or NEP, depending on your school’s jargon), basically a plan that describes their individual learning needs and supports that you must implement to give them the same access. I would love to talk about how we got here (there’s an idea for a post!) but right now I just want to talk to you about how we move on from here! Because, if you were like me, I had 7! How was I ever going to help them all individually? (I only had one part-time aide)
Let me share what I have learned. One of the best ways I have discovered over time is to develop a holistic view of classroom planning. This allows me to be inclusive of all the students in my classroom, giving them each the support they need, BUT without drowning me in work! I do this by adopting a classroom curriculum framework.
Planning for Inclusion
Classroom curriculum frameworks allow me to plan and design learning for students that moves my classroom towards inclusion for all. But to do that requires that I as a teacher have made an intellectual and emotional commitment to helping those students succeed. Moving towards inclusion is not difficult, but we, as teachers, need to make a commitment to
- start reflecting on our existing practices and knowledge
- see differences as opportunities for learning
- scrutinise barriers to participation in our classroom
- make use of every available resource to support learning
- develop a language of inclusive practice
- create conditions that encourage risk-taking (and be risk-takers ourselves!); and
- make reasonable adjustments
3 Curriculum planning principles that succeed
To use a curriculum framework successfully, we need to understand 3 basic curriculum planning principles.
1. Clear expectations – we must begin by deciding what it is we expect our students to achieve and learn – all of them, but particularly those with individual needs, from the learning experiences. A clear understanding of our expectations will help us be better planners. We can then plan with the end in mind.
2. On the same basis – s6.2 (1) of the Disability Standards for Education (2005) requires us to design our classroom curricula to meet the learning needs of all students – on the same basis without discrimination. On the same basis requires us to do some planning for it means:
- Not the same outcomes – they will need to be at their level
- Not the same manner – they may require different ways of showing their learning
- Not the same instructional strategies – they may need different strategies
- Not the same amount of teacher time – they may need more time.
3. Plan with the end in mind – to plan a classroom curriculum you need to think about the design. Designing is organising and sequencing the course materials, learning experiences, etc. so that students can gain the best access. This needs to be done prior to implementation. Now that seems obvious when I say it, but I too have been guilty of at times planning on the fly! Planning means thinking about:
- Content – what you are going to teach
- Syllabi – if you are in Australia you will need to use the ACARA curriculum
- Previous experience of a teacher – what you can realistically! achieve
- Prior knowledge of students, including their age, level of understanding, prior experiences, or learning attributes. These you might discover in the first week of a year by doing some assessment for learning (from Lorna Earl and Steven Katz). And would involve the process of getting feedback to see where the learners are in their learning! (You can read more about how I have done this here)
Ready to approach those curriculum frameworks?
Having done all these you are now ready to think about the curriculum frameworks. I introduce you to them in the following blog posts and will be adding others as I review more. So keep reading!
Want to know more?
My book, Curriculum Journeys – Towards Inclusion (A Journey through the World of Curriculum Frameworks for the inclusive education of ALL Students), gives more detail on the process of planning for an inclusive classroom. Framed as a journey through curriculum frameworks, the book takes you, the practising teacher, through seven different planning frameworks for developing a 21st Century inclusive classroom learning environment, one where all students can learn. You can find it on Amazon now!!
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