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Assignment One

In order to effectively discuss the inclusive teaching of students with diverse learning needs, it is

necessary to establish what inclusion is, and what this should resemble in educational contexts.

Inclusive education consists of the design and approach to teaching that enables all students to be

able to achieve academically and socially in the classroom without being excluded from any

form of learning in the class (Mukherjee, 2017). Loreman (2007) notes that this should resemble

‘normal’ education, but that all students should have full membership and participation in the

class. Through this paper, the changing views towards inclusion will be explicated, as well as the

legislative requirements of teachers in regard to teaching diverse learners. Coupled with this, the

inclusion of diverse learners, including those with Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) will be

discussed in the contexts of the method of History. In order to ascertain the focus areas in terms

of development for teachers, the personal and professional skills that are required of teachers will

be outlined. Underpinning this will be the utilisation of research to ensure that the strategies and

approaches are concomitant with the successful inclusion of all students in the class.

Cologon (2015) notes that from the 1970’s students with diverse learning needs were integrated

into mainstream schooling, signalling a shift from segregated forms of education that had been

commonplace since the 1900’s. This approach of ‘integration’ improved with the introduction of

the Disability Discrimination Act 1992, making it unlawful to discriminate in any form on the

basis of disability (DET, 2015). Cologon (2015) attribute the introduction of this act to the

integration of students becoming more extensive, and the eventual development of inclusivity as

an approach to education. Coupled with this, research over recent years highlights the benefits of

inclusive approaches to teaching (Cologon, 2015). The Disability Standards for Education 2005

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furthered this, outlining that educators must ensure that all students in the class are able to

achieve without being excluded from learning in any way (DET, 2012). The changing views

towards inclusion can be understood as a progression from segregation to integration, and then to

inclusion, which is reflected through legislation in Australia toward the teaching of diverse

students.

The before mentioned Disability discrimination Act 1992 was explicitly outlined in educative

contexts through the Disability Standards for Education 2005 that states educators have the

responsibility to ensure that students with a disability can access learning in the classroom (DET,

2012). Furthermore, this document outlines that instead these activities should be designed to be

inclusive for and accessible by all students in the classroom, rather than have activities that

exclude students with disability from partaking (DET, 2012). These standards cement inclusion

as a fundamental aspect of teaching, ensuring that schools provide the same level of education to

students with diverse learning needs as other students in the school. In addition to the Disability

Discrimination Act 1992, educators in NSW must also comply with the Anti-Discrimination Act

1977 (Human Rights Commission, 2014). This legislation reinforces anti-discrimination law at

the state level. As well as complying with relevant legislation, teachers are required to meet

educational policies. The Wellbeing Framework for Schools (2015) is an example of this stating

that schools must provide support for students through inclusive practices, and support students

with diverse learning needs through individualised learning. Furthermore, the document notes

that educators need to strive toward the development of cognitive wellbeing and belonging for

students, which can only be achieved through an inclusive approach (DEC, 2015). The need for

teachers to be inclusive is further reflected through the accreditation process for teachers. The

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establishment of the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers 2011 mandates the need to

be inclusive through Standards 1.5, 1.6, and 4.1. These standards highlight the need for teachers

to be inclusive to maintain accreditation and to meet the professional requirements of being a

teacher (AITSL, 2011).

Students with ASD “have issues with social communication/interaction, and issues with

repetitive behaviours” (Autism Spectrum Australia, 2018, p 1). It is important to be aware that

ASD is complex and varies between individuals, so it is necessary to take individual needs into

account and implement inclusive instructional strategies to support these needs (Bakken & Bock,

2001). To provide effective instruction to students with ASD, it is fundamental to approach

inclusion from the planning stage of learning sequences. Capp (2017) states that the Universal

Design for Learning (UDL) framework ensures that diversity is at the heart of learning. UDL

presents an effective means of creating lessons that include a broad range of learners and is

beneficial as a model for providing inclusivity in the classroom (Edyburn, 2010). Loreman,

Deppeler, & Harvey (2011) attest to this approach, noting UDL requires less modification, and

that modification to ‘normal’ lessons is ineffective as a means of inclusion and is negative as it is

reactive rather than proactive. Fitzgerald (2016) supports this, stating that embedded

differentiation means that students do not have to fail before learning needs can be addressed.

In order to effectively teach students with ASD in the History classroom, it is essential to provide

a flexible and structured approach to teaching (Haydn, Stephen, Arthur, Hunt., 2015). In the

classroom, it is important that the physical layout is appropriate for students and has ease of

access (Loreman et al., 2011). Secondly, in terms of students with ASD, research highlights that

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it is important that these students are engaged, and that materials and texts are linked to students’

personal interests and experiences (Dyches, Wilder, Obiakor, 2001; Broun, 2004; Haydn et al.,

2015). Another approach of attaining this engagement can be achieved through using a ‘hook’ at

the outset of the lesson, and the utilisation of historical narrative whilst guiding students through

pieces of writing (Haydn et al., 2015). The most significant factor to inclusive teaching is the

attitude of the teacher, and that high expectations are held for all students in the classroom

(Loreman et al., 2011; Dyches et al., 2001). Students with autism often learn more effectively

through picture prompts and analysis as well as other forms of visual learning styles, which

according to Bakken & Bock (2001), can be used to teach any task that can be split into separate

components. Haydn et al., (2015) notes that such an approach could be effective in history as a

way of teaching complex historical understanding, recommending the use of visual

representations such as concept maps and timelines to teach history. Meer, Achmadi, &

Coojimans et al., (2015) note that the use of electronic devices can be used to teach in pictorial

ways, and when combined with sound instructional pedagogies can benefit all students. Loreman

et al., (2011) notes it is essential to provide a variety of materials in the classroom to ensure that

a broad range of learning styles are catered to.

Learning in groups is effective for students with diverse learning needs as well as those with

ASD. This is evident through the fact that such learning provides academic and social support

whilst promoting the inclusion of all students in to the learning environment (Loreman, 2007;

Loreman et al., 2011). Loreman et al., (2011) states that collaborative learning is essential to

inclusion, and that heterogeneous grouping is of benefit to students in ensuring that there are

optimal opportunities for success. Haydn et al., (2015) supports this idea of collaborative

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learning as an effective means of inclusion, stating that the development of an effective

collaborative classroom ethos is effective. Group work can be supported through the teacher

acting as a facilitator that assists students with their learning, using Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal

Development through scaffolding to structure learning and adequately support students (Fani &

Ghaemi, 2011).

The professional skills that are required for educators to provide effective inclusive instruction

are the ability to work with colleagues in the school environment. It is essential that schools

develop professional learning communities, whereby special educators, and educators work

together to support one another (Loreman at al., 2011; McGuire, Scott, & Shaw, 2006).

Communicative skills are an essential skill that educators need in order to be able to provide

inclusion. It is imperative that teachers are able to communicate professionally with staff and

students. Haydn et al., (2015) notes that the linguistic demands of History are strenuous and that

it is important that teachers are cognizant of the language that they are using to ensure that

students can understand the learning. Dyches et al., (2001) supports the importance of

communication skills, noting that these are integral to the teacher in being an effective inclusive

classroom educator. Loreman et al., (2011) states that problem solving skills are essential for

educators, and that teachers who are successful are always looking for ways to improve practice

and are testing new teaching strategies until something works. Teachers must use inquiry-based

practice to ensure that the learning provided is using the latest methodologies and is aligned with

the best outcomes for students. Loreman et al., (2011) states that research that is developed by

teachers in their own contexts is often the most effective in terms of immediate impacts.

Essential to this is the use of spiral inquiry which operates within the spiral curriculum

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framework. This means that teachers are constantly reflecting on practice and are considering all

individual students in the classroom to ensure that everyone is succeeding (Timperley, Kaser, &

Halbert, 2014). It is beneficial for teachers to understand and use Gardener’s multiple

intelligences, as it is through this that teachers can differentiate learning outcomes, so students

have a variety of ways of demonstrating learning, as it is not always required to assess History

through written means (Haydn et al., 2015). It is important that teachers strive to work as a part

of the wider school community, as the incorporation of parents and the community into

schooling is an important aspect in inclusive education (Loreman et al., 2011). In terms of the

History classroom, first and foremost it is necessary that the teacher is an expert in the content

that is being taught, as this means that the teacher can adapt and represent knowledge in a variety

of means so that it can be understood by a diverse student body (Haydn et al., 2015). Lastly, in

terms of professional skills required of teachers, it is important that the teacher is committed to

ongoing professional development to constantly keep developing abilities as an inclusive teacher.

Loreman et al., (2011) notes that many teachers do not feel prepared to teach students with

diverse learning needs, and this can be resolved through teachers constantly evolving their

practice to become better inclusive educators.

The personal skills that teachers require in terms of being an effective educator in inclusive

contexts is that teachers need to be flexible and patient. Haydn et al., (2015) notes that in

providing strategies for diverse learners, flexibility is necessitated as strategies and teaching

methods will need to be adapted until a strategy is found to work. Teachers need to also be

empathetic and have positive attitudes towards the inclusion of students (Hammond, 2010).

Relationships between students, teacher, peers and the environment are essential, and working

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within this is the need for teachers to be culturally competent to ensure the inclusion of diverse

students (Clarke & Pittaway, 2014). The attitudes of teachers are the most important determining

factor in whether there will be successful inclusion in the classroom, and it is important that the

teacher promotes the idea within students that they are capable of learning, and that the teacher

adopts a strength-based approach to talking about students with diverse learning needs rather

than approaching teaching with a deficit outlook (Boas & Gazis, 2016; Loreman et al., 2011;

Mukherjee, 2017). Loreman et al., (2011) states that whilst there is importance on a supportive

environment in the school leadership, the most significant factor to direct inclusion in the

classroom is the attitude of the teacher.

The introduction of the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 acted as a catalyst that saw a shift

towards inclusive practices whereby students with diverse learning needs attained full access to

the classroom without discrimination. The legislation highlights the changing views towards

inclusion, and the way in which students with diverse learning needs are to be taught in the

classroom. In contemporary teaching contexts, there will be a diversity of learners in the

classroom including those with ASD. This necessitates an approach to teaching that is grounded

in the framework of UDL to ensure that learning is aligned with the inclusion of all students in

the class. In the History classroom, in order to effectively include students with ASD, the

importance for the teacher is the development of personal and professional skills, and the

cognizance of attitudes towards inclusion and diverse learners. From here, the teacher has the

responsibility to ensure the development and implementation of inclusive instructional strategies

to ensure that the learning of the classroom provides opportunities for engagement, belonging

and success for all learners.

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