Date of Award
Master of Arts in Education
inclusion, collaboration, isolation, special education
Inclusion in elementary education has been gaining momentum in research and implementation over the past two to three decades. Best practices are becoming more well documented and research is mounting surrounding the benefits of inclusionary practices in elementary classrooms. Several themes surrounding inclusion have become evident as necessary for understanding inclusion such as classroom community, nonexamples of inclusion, relationships, student choice, and teacher training. In order to best support young students with a wide range of abilities and backgrounds, educators must first understand what inclusion is and is not. Then teachers can better implement inclusionary practices in their classrooms to support all learners. Educators must establish classroom communities built on respect and acceptance. Educators must also study nonexamples of inclusion to better determine their own areas of strength and areas where they can fortify teaching. Next, teachers need to spend time fostering and building relationships among staff, students, and between those two groups. Student choice is another key theme in implementing best inclusive practices in elementary classrooms. Finally, educators must be given ample training and on the job experience on inclusive practices. When all of the above themes are addressed, elementary students benefit from more inclusive educational experiences. Better inclusive practices lead to students of all ability levels receiving equitable access to grade level content with peers in their age group.
Keywords: Inclusion, collaboration, isolation