The aim of this assignment is to gain an understanding into inclusive teaching and learning approaches as well be able to use them in my teaching. It will also explore how I can create a learning environment that engages and motivates students and my planning, delivery and evaluation of my teaching. The Warnock Report 1978 introduced the idea of Special Educational Needs and encouraged the thought process of statements and an inclusive education by suggesting that common educational goals were set regardless of the learner’s abilities or disabilities (Education and Skills Committee 2006). This is is further supported by Hodkinson and Vickerman (2009) who state that educational need should be considered the priority and not an individual learning disability. Therefore, inclusive teaching is about allowing any student the ability to achieve their full potential through education and training, by treating students equally and without discrimination this will make for a conducive learning environment.
As an inclusive teacher this will necessitate the teacher to ensure that all students’ are treated differently in order to maximise the individuals learning potential and identify any students learning needs or indeed barriers that may arise to progressing their learning. By undertaking these steps to ensure early identification on learning needs and barriers, strategies can be put in place to minimise negative impacts of these barriers and ensure an equal and inclusive learning environment. Within my role, over the last 15 years, as a coastguard rescue officer part of my inherited role is to support, train, assess and feedback to managers on newer team members competency as well as support senior officers with delivering training packages to team members throughout Cornwall.
This is a new development and is a big strength to the development of teams and competencies levels. These training packages have been developed from a foundation through to the higher technician competencies and have proven a great success. Upon completion of the foundation training coastguard officers will then undertake a number of further competency courses which include the rope rescue operator course. This has both inherent strength and weaknesses to the course, one of which is that the learners on the course are from a multitude of teams from across Cornwall and this can prove challenging at times, however, the strength of doing this in this manner is that we can also share knowledge and ‘best practise’ across the county. The limitation of just having one level of competency attending the course does not allow for ‘real’ opportunity for learning due to policies created that only technicians are able to go over a cliff.
This in turn limits the real life ability to put it in to practise. The course has been developed and this policy overcome by the opportunity to allow technicians to attend and again share knowledge, experience and best practise. Within any education and training, environment is key in ensuring that the opportunity for learners to develop and reaffirm their knowledge of key functional skills in English, Mathematics and ICT as well as wider skills is possible. These skills can be developed naturally through your subject matter and will often create a positive learning environment the more naturally they occur. When undertaking these skills in your learning environment the tasks need to be relevant and engaging with real time/life situations to ensure maximum opportunity for learning. Within my learning environment there are many opportunities for these skills to be developed and affirmed.
When undertaking training with the coastguard and teaching and sharing knowledge there are many opportunities for the use of technologies in the form of technical equipment used for the lowering and hauling of team members and causalities, as well as a need for clear communication skills between team members from the person over the cliff to the cliff top and officer in charge, who all require a clear, concise and informed briefing and ongoing updates throughout the training evolution. Further to this is the need to understand the breaking strains and tensions on the equipment and ability to calculate the potential stretch in a rope over a distance are just some examples of embedded functional skills within my teaching and learning environment. An inclusive teaching and learning environment needs to allow learners’ to feel comfortable, relaxed and feel safe to allow them to maximise the opportunity to learn and achieve their full learning potential.
When undertaking education and training the approach, resources and assessment methods used as a teacher are key to ensure that the learner is enjoying the learning environment. Ensure you are able to connect to the individual learner using their name, speak directly to them and not about them, ensure their voice is heard when undertaking feedback or tutorials and that any individual’s needs are catered for. This is particularly important in ensuring and understanding the needs of learners with dyslexia. Garner (2008) states that where a child is referred to as having dyslexia, they may experience considerable difficulty in reading, writing and spelling but this is not necessarily a reflection on their intellectual capabilities. Therefore it is important to ensure that their needs are catered for adequately to allow them full access to the learning. For example, ensuring handouts are available on coloured paper can help to allow one of the barriers of dyslexia to be overcome.
Ensure resources for the training are current and relevant, if you are undertaking worksheets or workbooks ensure that there is opportunity to allow staged tasks for different levels of learning or learners’ who may suffer from autism. Clear goal setting and ensuring that goals are achievable before the need to move to another task, where practical, reduces the impact on the learner and allows the opportunity for ‘extension’ activities. When undertaking any education or training opportunity motivation and keenness to engage with the training is of vital importance as the more the engagement and student led learning the less work as a teacher you may have to do. Ensure a knowledge of what motivates your learners’ and if they are attending the training because ‘they have too’ or to develop themselves will give you an insight into an individual’s motivation.
There are many ways to motivate individuals’ to engage in the training from ensuring an overarching positive learning environment to interesting creative tasks ensuring a variety of learning styles and strategies are employed. When undertaken training of a new cohort of learners’ the way in which the ground rules of the session, course or environment are set are fundamental to the success of ensuring maximum engagement and potential achievement, as well as to ensure a safe working environment.
There are many ways to establish ground rules from a teacher led process where they dictate rules to the group and is very much a “You must not….” And “Don’t do….”, for a more constructive and joined up approach a negotiation style approach could be considered to ensure investment from learners’ and signed agreement could allow for a greater commitment from them. There will more often than not be imposed rules either as part of health and safety responsibility or due to policies and procedures that are able to be avoided but these can be discussed and ensure a clear consistent understanding of these and reasoning could aid in the collaborative approach to the learning environment.
Education and Skills Committee (2006) Special Educational Needs Third Report of session 2005-2006. [Online] HC 478-II. London, the Stationary Office. Available from: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200506/cmselect/cmeduski/478/478ii.pdf [Accessed 20th April 2015]. Garner, P. (2008) Special Educational Needs: The Key Concepts. London, Routledge. Hodkinson, A. and Vickerman, P. (2009) Key Issues in Special Educational Needs and Inclusion. London, SAGE Publications Ltd.