Tips to Create an Inclusive Classroom Environment

Creating an inclusive classroom environment is more important now than ever. "Classroom inclusivity" is a phrase that gets used a lot in educational circles, but what does it actually mean to be inclusive? And what can teachers do to ensure that all their classrooms are truly inclusive to give all children they are responsible for equal opportunities to thrive?

What does it mean to be an inclusive classroom?

An inclusive classroom is one that is able to understand the learning needs of all individual learners and create a supportive and responsive environment for everyone.

According to the Department for Education, the number of pupils from minority ethnic backgrounds, living in disadvantaged circumstances, or having a registered SEND, is on the rise. These groups still need to be more represented in the curriculum, and the opportunity for improvement is vast.

To achieve classroom inclusion, teachers must strive to make sure that every child, regardless of their background, abilities, unique needs or barriers to learning, has the same opportunities to thrive at school and is given equal access to the same standard of learning.

However, creating an inclusive classroom environment that works for all pupils isn't without its challenges. Pupils with a disability, those whose first language isn't English, or children from ethnic minorities or low-income families all face obstacles that may make it harder for them to succeed in the classroom.

With so many diverse learning needs in the classroom, how can teachers ensure classroom inclusion for all the pupils in their care?

Teaching children about inclusivity in the classroom is every teacher's responsibility. During their school years, children will meet people from many different cultures and backgrounds. Teaching children how to be respectful, accepting, curious and inclusive will help them learn the skills they need to take them into the wider world, creating a more tolerant and peaceful society.

A classroom is only truly inclusive if all students feel as though they are included in the school community. To ensure this is the case, teachers need to pave the way for open communication, honest discussions, and an environment where everyone feels safe to be themselves as well as respected and valued.

So what are some useful tips to help teachers create an inclusive classroom?

Consider your own values

Before you think about how to curate an inclusive environment, it is essential to consider your own values and any unconscious biases you might have. By being clear on the values important to create an inclusive classroom, you will have the necessary framework to ensure your pupils understand these values too.

State your expectations

Your pupils should be clear on your expectations of inclusivity, and these should be made evident from the outset. Start with a discussion with your pupils about what inclusivity means to them and the kinds of behaviour and actions that create an inclusive environment. Make this a collaborative task and ensure that all pupils understand the behaviour that is expected of them both within and outside school.

Deal with disruption sensitively

If you have to deal with instances where these standards of behaviour are not upheld, deal with the situation with care. Inclusivity can be a sensitive topic, and sometimes it is a lack of knowledge or understanding rather than malicious intent that can cause a problem. Handling any low-level issues to ensure resolution without causing discomfort can often be the best course of action.

Be aware of each child's specific needs

Inform your planning through pre-assessment by getting to know the children in your class and understanding their different learning levels and specific requirements. Plan your learning to include full class participation, being aware of these diverse requirements as you do.

Take your class into the community

Pupils will learn a lot by going out into the community and interacting with people from different cultures and backgrounds. You can also bring the community into your classroom through your lessons or by inviting people to give talks to educate your pupils and expand their knowledge and understanding.

Encourage questions and discussion

One of the best ways to ensure inclusivity in your classroom is to ensure open communication and encourage pupils to ask questions. If you create an environment where children feel safe to ask questions, to be curious, and to learn, they will feel motivated to understand more about how to be inclusive. Encouraging good listening is also essential here. Make sure that every child feels they have a voice in your classroom, that they can speak up, and that they are genuinely heard when they do so.

Why is inclusion in the classroom so important?

By committing to classroom inclusivity by not only supporting diversity but celebrating it, schools can help ensure that every child has the potential to achieve. It is important not to segregate pupils with additional needs but rather ensure that they view themselves and the other pupils view them as part of the classroom community. By addressing negative cultural attitudes and correcting common misconceptions about pupils from minority or low-income families, or children with disabilities, children are taught to support one another, to be curious, and, perhaps most importantly, to be kind.

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By following the above tips, you can ensure that your classroom is inclusive and that your pupils feel respected and valued.

If you are looking for a new role in teaching, browse the jobs board or get in touch with the team at Horizon Teachers today.