Moving from segregated to inclusive school settings is often met with resistance. Does the resistance hold merit and how can educators, students, and parents come against it? What stages do schools pass through when moving toward more inclusive settings?
Dr. Julie Causton, founder and CEO of Inclusive Schooling joins us. She was a Professor in the Inclusive and Special Education Program in the Department of Teaching and Leadership at Syracuse University for the past 14 years. Dr. Causton’s particular areas of expertise are school reform, inclusive teacher training, collaboration, humanistic behavioral supports, lesson planning, and providing invisible adult supports. She also provides independent educational evaluations in due process hearings across the nation relying on her legal knowledge and practical experience.
She is published in over 30 academic journals and has written 6 books for school professionals about inclusive education that are widely read by school teams and teacher education programs across the country. Last year she supported schools in the area of inclusive school reform in twelve states and in several parts of Canada.
Mentioned in The Above Episodes
Part 1 - Stages Schools Move Through & Resistance Faced
Educators are some of the biggest advocates working toward inclusive schools day after day, yet often we neglect to recognize their efforts and what they are coming against. They are members of our team in need of refreshment, refueling, and resources. In addition to the work they do planning and implementing, they have several relationships to maintain which offers hidden stress as well.
Most teachers have not had training nor education on effective coteaching. Often it will look like the general ed teacher in the front of the room with the special ed teacher floating to assist a few kids. This is not good inclusive educational coteaching.
Ideally, classrooms should be cotaught and contain the same proportion of students with labels as the school population as a whole. Students should be integrated and scattered throughout the classroom. Classrooms filled with students who have labels are considered segregated settings which is the opposite of inclusive education.
When schools contact Dr. Causton, she typically begins with an equity audit physically mapping out where services are offered in the school. Often, looking at the structural logistics brings about an awareness of where segregated settings exist. This begins a discussion on clearly learning what inclusive education is and is not.
We discuss five stages schools typically experience when moving from segregated settings to inclusive settings.
Stage 1: (mentioned above) is learning what inclusive education does and does not look like.
Stage 2: is resistance and it can be intense. Julie speaks on common resistance topics such as cost and the special education teachers ability to oversee IEP goals. (Part 2 of the conversation will focus on strategies when coming up against the resistance).
Ronker Portability Standard is a part of the LRE law that states if services are portable, they are to be brought to the student rather than the student being brought to the services.
A big indicator of quality of life is how many interactions we get with peers. Often special education students are not being given ample opportunities for interactions.
1954 Brown vs Board of Education is a similar example of segregated education and the intense resistance during it’s time. Disability is diversity and when looked at it through that lens, we know integration of all students enhances a school
Stage 3: is acceptance and the willingness to give inclusive schooling a chance.
Stage 4 is the logistical movement and what changes need to be made, such as training, moving kids out of the segregated settings, differentiation of content and curriculum, training on behavioral challenges, etc.
Stage 5: is celebration. Often the most vocal resisters become the biggest champions and supporters of inclusion.
There are many people who are necessary for inclusive education to become effective such as parents, educators, service providers, students, paraprofessionals, and administrators. Of these, the administration is the most important and often the place to start. Next is getting the general education counterparts on board. (Part 2 of the conversation covers how to do this).
Students with and without disabilities who campaign for more inclusive schools often use the I Am Norm Campaign.
Part 2: Overcoming the Resistance
Often, special education teachers are the driving force in bringing change to schools. To do so, the first step is gathering a team or committee interested in the work of creating a more inclusive school.
Committees or administrators can begin by looking at the structural set up of the school and practices currently in place. Observe where inclusion and segregation are happening such as in the hallways, room locations, and students in the classes.
Another place to gage how the inclusiveness of the school is by following special education students for the day. Take data on how many interactions they get with students who do not have labels. What opportunities were missed? Are they walking in the same entrance as other students? This exercise can be a very eye opening experience.
Next, gather inclusive resources to use as a springboard. One fun springboard activity is to watch the movie “Including Samuel” with the entire staff and follow up with discussion.
Schools can be blind to the ways they are not inclusive. They feel nothing is broken. Discussion, committees, and sub committees are a great place to begin exploring. Suggested readings to do together are “But we Already do Inclusion, Don’t We?” and “The Principles Handbook on Inclusive Schooling.” which is a step by step guide.
Dr. Causton has a wide variety of resources for committees and administrators including over 30 articles that can be downloaded for free and 6 books specific to the stakeholder such as the principle, teacher, SLP, OT, or paraprofessional
The skills of effective co-teaching are important yet, not typically part of a teacher’s training. 30 Days to the Co-Taught Classroom is a great resource.
Recommended for parents is “Achieving Inclusion, What Every Parent Should Know”
One example of a parent action step is to create an inclusive IEP where the goals can only be met if done with typical peers such as Peers understand requests 2 of 3 times. This causes goals to be taught in general education settings.
At inclusiveschooling.com there are online courses for those ready to move forward that break down what to do step by step. Courses in include: The Inspired Educator, The Inspired Secondary Educator, The Inspired Paraprofessional, and for parents there is Inspire Inclusion
Dr. Causton does live professional development all over the country and is in a different school district every week. To have her come to your school contact her here. She also is available for process hearings and court cases.
Dr. Causton has a podcast! It is on all major podcast apps and is called The Inclusion Podcast.
Listen to Kim’s conversation about being a Reluctant Advocate on the Mama Bear Podcast from the January 14, 2019 episode. She shares 5 things she has learned over the years on how to be an advocate without loosing her soul.