Inclusive Schools Week is an annual event sponsored by the Inclusive Schools Network, held this year December 5-9. This year the theme is “Champions of Inclusion.”  Johanna Ross, a Lead Teacher at Childgarden Early Childhood Center, shares with us what teaching in an inclusive classroom means to her.

Teaching in an Inclusive Classroom

I’ve been teaching in an inclusive classroom at Childgarden Early Childhood Center for over a year. I’ve learned during that time that most days there is not much difference in how I’m teaching now, than when I was teaching in a classroom in which inclusion was not a priority. Regardless of the obstacles they face, every child has his or her own individual challenges and strengths.

In my inclusive classroom, I individualize my teaching and my methods to be sure each child is learning and developing. This is no different than how I taught in a classroom that did not prioritize inclusion; I’ve just traded in my social studies curriculum for early childhood development. The joy, excitement, and pride when a child masters a new skill or meets a new milestone is still the same. The frustration when I, as a teacher, am struggling to find the right method, technique, or strategy to help a child progress, is still the same. But in those struggles, is when I do notice a difference.

A Team Approach

In an inclusive classroom, if I’m struggling to find the right method for a child, I have an entire team of people here to help me. Each team member has different experiences, background, and perspectives that they bring to the table to work for the child. We all have suggestions, we all have ideas and things to try, and we are all working together to help that child reach their full potential.

This team of people working together makes the struggles seem more like a puzzle to solve with everyone chipping in their own expertise. It also makes each success seem so much more amazing because we all celebrate together and we get to tell the story over and over to each person working with the child.

Every time a therapist steps into my classroom, they become one more person to help meet the needs of my classroom. They work with the child they are scheduled to work with and carry out their therapy activities with that child, but the therapist also interacts with the other children. They give me suggestions to implement with the classroom as a whole. Yes, the suggestions are focused on the needs of the child they work with, but they always benefit the classroom as a whole.

Teaching in an inclusive classroom and an inclusive school means teaching as a team, a supportive, knowledgeable team with the same goal for the children. And I see the benefits in my classroom of children every day.

Johanna Ross, a Lead Teacher at Childgarden Early Childhood Center

To learn more about inclusive education and enrolling your child at Childgarden Early Childhood Center please contact Debbie Schmitz, Center Director at 314-531-8148.