After all of this evaluating and contemplating, now is the time for the rubber to meet the road!
1. Setting clear roles/responsibilities
Hopefully, by now the term “shared responsibility” is forever seared into your brain. However, clear roles and responsibilities should be articulated to ensure all members of the team understand what is expected.
Some questions to look into when reviewing this:
- Is there collaboration, planning and grading time built in for general education teachers and special education teachers?
- Do General Education teachers attend IEP meetings?
- Who is responsible for grading?
- Who is responsible for planning?
- When behaviors occur, who is responsible for addressing them?
Also, there should be a protocol in place when disagreements arise. It can be as simple as talking directly to your co-teacher first – since if a person is not aware of a problem, how can he or she solve it? If this doesn’t work, what is the next step? **Also, feel free to insert verbiage from Meyer-Briggs, Strengths Finder, or any other quiz you took one time at a PD and then never referenced again to let your co-teacher know your values or how you like to take or provide feedback.
2. Setting goals with ongoing cycles of learning
The Road to Inclusion is never-ending, since there are always inevitable new bumps, detours, and even U-turns. Having a continued commitment to inclusion can manifest in different ways:
- A committee of teachers monitoring the school’s progress
- Surveys asking for where teachers need more support
- Teachers creating and then working towards specific goals
- Teachers observing each other’s classes
- Mentor teachers providing guidance through one on one conversations or PDs.
The possibilities for continued development are infinite and will yield more weight if the teachers are active participants in creating goals, measuring success, and recommending best practices to try in the classroom. Did I mention shared responsibility helps with inclusion?
I also recommend reading about Implementation Science to learn about best practices around assessing a program’s efficacy and then creating improvements.
If there is no buy-in from the top to provide the time and energy to cultivate the conditions for inclusion (and your school needs it!), here are some recommendations:
- Look for solutions first. Prepare a case to administrators about why this is important and ideas for how this can be implemented. Provide as much data as possible to strengthen your case.
- See if you can enlist other teachers to ask for this to be a professional development priority.
- Document over email concerns if IEPs are not being met and conversations are not moving the needle. (of course, be prepared for repercussions – luckily, there is a shortage of us!)
- Become a principal, school board member or superintendent to implement inclusion with fidelity!