What Is Inclusion?
Providing a fully inclusive learning experience for students with disabilities, as well as for their non-disabled peers, was a foundational principle when REACH was chartered as an elementary school.
However, inclusion is not simply placing students with disabilities into a regular classroom. Rather, inclusion is a schoolwide philosophy and system of instructional practices that customize the learning experiences of every student— regardless of ability level or ethnic, linguistic, and economic background. The REACH inclusion model emphasizes the concept that “all means all” and enables every student to access the same academic and social emotional curricula and to meet rigorous academic and behavioral expectations.
Inclusion Benefits All Students
In a fully inclusive school like REACH, every child is respected as an individual and receives caring individual attention to determine which practices will provide the best support of his/her unique talents and growth needs.
In addition, learning side-by-side with diverse peers encourages REACH students to develop empathy and compassion, to understand multiple perspectives, and to solve problems collaboratively. In short, all REACH students learn better because they are learning together.
Transdisciplinary Collaboration Makes Inclusion Work
In Inclusive learning environments, supplementary services come to the student, to the greatest feasible extent. This allows students with disabilities or other unique needs to remain with peers in the natural and least restrictive environment of the classroom, rather than being “pulled out” for large portions of the day to receive interventions and other support services elsewhere.
However, this approach requires a high degree of collaboration among general and special education teachers and multiple service providers in order to create support plans that are highly integrated with instruction. To this end, REACH has established Transdisciplinary Teaching Teams to provide coordinated and integrated services. With leadership from a child’s case manager, the team members step out of their individual specialties and collaborate across their respective disciplinary boundaries, including with parents, to develop a shared vision and the most coherent interventions and holistic service delivery plans for each child.