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  • Writer's pictureAshley Carol

Take a peek into an inclusive school setting!

Updated: Nov 16, 2023

If you are reading this blog, it is likely that you are looking for information to ensure that your student or someone else close to you is receiving superior educational services to fit their unique needs.

What exactly is inclusion, and how does it manifest itself in classrooms? Simply said, inclusion is about EVERY student feeling as if they belong! Decisions are based on the needs of the students rather than on places and labels.

  • The general education classroom at the student's enrolled grade level is the reference point for student-specific planning.

  • The bar has been raised.

  • The curricular standards approved by the school or state serve as the foundation for instruction. No separate curriculum exists.

  • Where necessary, individualized services are provided.

Inside the Classroom

  • Students should be receiving instruction at the same school they would if they did not have a disability.

  • When discussing the educational setting, is the general education classroom at their enrolled grade level the first thing brought up?

  • If special education classrooms are located elsewhere in the school, are they distributed across the facility in age, grade, or department-appropriate locations?

  • Are the facilities utilized by students from special groups equivalent to those used by students in general education?

  • Is the layout of the classroom such that all students can easily access it?

  • Is the environment in the classroom friendly, accepting, and supportive of all students?

  • Are decisions about instructional settings established on the basis of student needs rather than labels or available services?


  • Collaboration should exist as a shared ownership concept where all students are referred to as "our students"?

  • Do teachers who work with special populations and those who work with general education classes routinely collaborate when planning lessons?

  • Are all faculty members familiar with the Individualized Education Plans (IEP) and/or Behavior Intervention Plans (BIP) for each of their students?


  • To reach all students, do teachers employ a range of evidence-based teaching approaches such as cooperative learning, activity-based education, and multi-level instruction?

  • Is lecture-based instruction being replaced by differentiated instruction as the main instructional strategy in classrooms?

  • Do educators know the distinction between changes and accommodations?

  • Is there a structure in place at the school for behavioral support on the entire campus?

  • Do educators have access to a wide range of quality tools, resources, and technology to serve all students?

Support Services

  • Are outside resources made available before lessons to help students succeed?

  • Do students with special needs have access to in-class support choices including natural or formal peer support, frequent assistance from instructors or teacher assistants, or formally collaborative teaching (two teachers sharing instruction)?

  • When necessary, do service providers like speech pathologists, physical therapists, and occupational therapists offer their services in general education classrooms?

  • Is it only for specialized support that couldn't be offered in the classroom when a student leaves the classroom?


  • All students are working on meaningful projects that further their academic objectives!

  • The learner's goals, activities, and rules are all clearly specified and publicized.

  • There are many different educational methods, resources, technologies, and groupings in use.

  • The general education classroom receives services, and the staff collaborates to satisfy the requirements of the students there.

  • Adult supports for special needs students do not stigmatize them, and interactions among students are noticeable.

  • Assignments have an objective, require substantial work, and uphold rigor.

  • The setup of the classroom encourages good behavior and learning. The resources are available to the students, and there is enough space for small groups and quick changes.

Respect, Relationships, and Responsibility

Effective inclusion should include—respect, relationships, and responsibility—which are sometimes easier to remember than standards and observation checklists, which are useful tools for identifying inclusive classrooms.


Classrooms that value diversity and inclusion foster a respectful environment for all students. Every student has a name, a gift, and a talent.  Every student in the general education class is a member and has a place there. They are known by their names, distinctive personalities, and personal bests, not by their grades or test results.


Relationships form when kids are treated with respect and considered equals in the school community. Students are now connected members of a school community rather than being separate individuals. For kids to cultivate a growth mindset—the conviction that they can learn if they put in the effort and perseverance—relationships provide a safety net. Instructional and support decisions are driven by student needs rather than labels.

Teachers, students, and parents can better address all forms of student diversity once relationships are established, and everyone shares responsibility for the success of the students. All students begin in the general education classroom, and as required and appropriate, services and supports are brought there. Instead of placing the blame on the students, teachers take ownership of their accomplishment.

Respect, relationships , and responsibility help us keep in mind what inclusion entails inside and outside of the classroom as well as in the greater community.

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