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Ways to structure an inclusive classroom

Inclusive instruction

Helsinki, Finland
An inclusive school welcomes all students. This innovation gives you concrete ideas on how to implement inclusive instruction in elementary and high schools.
Introduction

What is it all about?

“Inclusivity forms the foundation for the whole school community: everyone must commit to the model.”

Annika Saviluoto ja Karoliina Toropainen, Pasila Comprehensive School

Inclusive instruction aims to create a feeling of belonging, a community in which all students are equal despite the needs they have and the support they receive.

The aim is to ensure support for every student within their group. This is a model in which students share their school day and belong to the same group. In inclusive teaching, all students work in the same group while taking advantage of different ways to utilize school spaces and classroom layouts.

The inclusive instruction model can be implemented with co-teaching, which benefits students and teachers as well as the quality of teaching. The aim is to get all kinds of students to work together under the guidance of a grade teacher and a special education teacher.

The inclusion model requires more from the school building than a traditional way of teaching does. The school’s classrooms have to make it possible to differentiate instruction and divide spaces flexibly. Spaces that are separate yet connected to each other are most useful. Be creative with how you use your school building: in addition to classrooms, you could use the hallways, the school yard, meeting rooms and the assembly hall as learning environments.

In inclusive instruction, the main criteria of forming student groups are group dynamics and the group’s ability to work together. Classroom and teaching practices are chosen based on the situation. This model could also be used with a syllabus based on courses and periods: groups can then be altered regularly to promote better collaboration.

Inclusive instruction can be implemented in many different ways. The following steps describe examples of how classes can be organized. They are based on the inclusive teaching practices used at the Pasila comprehensive school since 2009 and the training material provided by the Niilo Mäki Institute.

Try out the following experiments to find the methods that best suit your class!

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Innovation Overview
7 - 15
Age Group
-
Children/Users
1
Country
2015
Established
-
Organisation
2 294
Views
Tips for implementation
Adjustable spaces at school, the whole school’s commitment to the model, patience to experiment.
Connect with innovator
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HundrED Review
Innovativeness

Differentiation does not require separating students into different classes. All students can be part of one community if you use creative teaching methods.

Impact

The students develop a sense of belonging that is not affected by their skill level, special needs or background.

Scalability

This innovation can be applied in all kinds of school environments as long as your classrooms allows for different types of student groupings.

Milestones

Achievements & Awards

Map

Spread of the innovation

Steps

Inspired to implement this? Here's how...

01
Changing your way of thinking
Inclusive instruction requires you to change your way of thinking and your teaching practices.
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02
Two teachers in the same classroom
In this method, one teacher teaches the class while another moves around the room.
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03
Two teachers and two groups in separate spaces
This works with big groups and with tasks that require peace and quiet to focus on the task at hand.
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04
The whole group in the same room with work stations
This way of working is a great way to differentiate between different students needs, especially when you have students that need more advanced material.
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05
Two teachers in the same space, one of them working with a sma...
This method is a good way to take advantage of different teaching styles.
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06
Teaching in teams
Teaching in teams allows teachers to play to their strengths and promotes personal development.
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