Examination of factors influencing inclusive learning Essay

A teaching strategy is defined as a particular set of instructions that encourage a set of desired behaviours from learners. A teaching strategy is a deliberate action of the teacher to vary the way in which their learners work in order to achieve a particular outcome. (Hanson, 1996) There are various teaching strategies that I use in my own specialism. I always try to use as many different teaching strategies as I can when teaching such as; demonstrations, debates, role play, case studies, lecturing, Jigsaw technique and many more.

The reason I try to use so many different teaching strategies is that every learner I have ever worked with has been different and what works well with some groups might not work that well with another (Hanson 1996) for example if I am working with a group that was full of people that were quite introvert and didn’t really like to speak in front of the class or share their thoughts or feelings with one another, would having a debate be very useful to this group?

Well in some ways in might help to develop the skills of the learners and in might increase the self-confidence of the group especially if the learning outcomes of the session require you to do this. However if the outcomes can be achieved without having a debate and another teaching strategy can be used in which the learners prefer then it might be better using another strategy such as getting the group to do a mind map exercise. The teaching strategies that I use are dependent on the needs of the learners and the outcomes and aims I set out in my lesson plan.

In reality the group is going to be made up of learners who thrive under different learning strategies and that every learner is going to have teaching strategies they cope well with and other teaching strategies they despise. Therefore the more teaching strategies I can use creates more opportunities for my learners to have a positive learning experience and therefore they are more likely to positively engage in the sessions I teach them. The work I do is usually in a informal setting or a work related learning setting therefore I try to keep away from traditional teaching methods that are used in schools.

The reason I do this is that most of the learners I work with did not do well in the formal education system and thus the reason they have been referred to us. We have had positive results with the learners we work with and I believe this to be down to the variety of teaching strategies that we use and tailoring them to the individual needs of the learners. There has been vast amounts of literature published on learning styles and questionnaires designed to dictate what is the preferred learning style of the learners undertaking them.

For example the VAK questionnaire dictates that after answering a series of questions you will be able to know whether or not your learners are a more visual, auditory or kinaesthetic learner. However through my own learning and teaching experiences I have found that not every learner has a preferred learning style but usually have a mixture of learning styles and depending on what they are learning and where they are learning it then the learning style may also change.

So even though it is important to identify teaching strategies that work well and identify different learning styles within the group, it is important to remember that every learner has individual needs and it is important as a teacher to identify these needs of the individual learners. There are many ways in my own specialism where we identify the needs of learners these include collection of data, discussions, tutorials, emails etc.

The identification learners needs usually starts straight away with the consent / application forms we had out to the learners where we ask them to disclose important personal information that includes, Gender, race, age, any disabilities, address and so on prior to the start of a course training session. This helps us identify any needs the person might need from the start of a course /session such as building access for someone in a wheel chair, providing the correct dietary requirements for different ethnic groups or the correct reading materials for someone who is partially sighted.

However there is other needs that as teachers we need to be aware when teaching to groups such as the speed at which the learners work at, the preferred learning styles of different learners, who we need to encourage talk more and so on. Education is a basic human right (Richards and Armstrong2008) and it is of paramount importance as teachers we can create an environment that facilitates learning and is inclusive to all.

It is important that strong supportive networks are put in place so learners are able to achieve in a non-discriminate environment. As teachers we can not control the environment outside the class room but have a great deal of control over the environment within the learning setting and therefore we create the positive or negative images our learners have towards education (Tileston 2005). Teachers have the responsibility of making sure certain rocedures are in place and legislation is adhere to whilst teaching and make themselves familiar with the procedures that they need to adhere to within their company and where they can access them if they are to query their practice. These procedures include health and safety, data protection, child protection, disability discrimination and so on. As well be aware of these procedures and adhering to the legislation it is important we can create an environment that is inclusive to all and is pro active towards the needs of its learners. It (…) implies learning alongside others and collaborating with them in shared lessons. It involves active engagement with what is learnt and taught and having a say in how education is experienced. But participation also involves being recognised for oneself and being accepted for oneself; I participate with you when you recognise me as a person like yourself and accept me for who I am. (Booth 2003)” This quote from Booth highlights what participation means in an inclusive classroom.

It also makes teachers consider that the learners they are working with are human like themselves and that everyone we work with is going to be individual and they are going to engage with the lesson in different ways but as long as they engage with what is being taught and they learn from that then you as a teacher has been successful (Richards and Armstrong, 2008). Inclusive approaches to learning are even more important to teachers within the UK especially as the UK becomes more multicultural and diverse (LSIS, 2012).

Traditional methods such as lectures where uniform instruction is used are deemed to be ineffective when the group you are teaching is diverse and full of people with different approaches to learning, (De Vita, 2001) Most learners we come across will have a preferred learning style and approach to learning so it is quite difficult to match teaching styles with your learners whilst keeping inclusive for everyone.

So as long as you allow for different types of learning within your classroom and don’t restrict any types of learning then you will create a more inclusive environment. Also if you tale learners out of their comfort zone and expose them to different learning approaches in a skilful and tactile way this can even increase the scale of activities learners feel comfortable with and actually make them a more developed learner (De Vita, 2001).

Inclusive learning is achieved through active learning, one approach to increase active learning is to Co-Teach using more than one teacher will provide the opportunity to “unique and high-involvement instructional strategies to engage all students in ways that are not possible when only one teacher is present”( Green & Casale-Giannola, 2011) For example in my role as a teacher I often use role play in some of the issue based workshops we do.

Having two of us teach allows us to act out scenarios and scenes where we can give detail instruction of what we want the learners to do this allows us to make the learning a lot more easier and inclusive for all. Another approach to active learning is discussion (Bronwell & Eison, 1991) Discussion helps learners express themselves and hare ideas with group it allows the group to participate as they feel they need too allows for interaction amongst the class and develop their thinking skills (Bronwell & Eison, 1991) Visual based instruction such as watching a video or demonstration is another active learning method that is very useful.

Using case studies can also provide active learning it gives the learners an opportunity to express their skills in a writing format that is structured and with some skilled teacher it allows the learners develop their thoughts and their literacy and language skills and also their IT skills if they are to word process the assignment.

There are many other approaches to active learning and where possible we should use as much approaches as we can so we meet the needs of different learners and create a more inclusive environment When teaching i must make certain that i select suitable resources that meet the needs of the learners. This is important to make the learners feel inclusive. For example I may use handouts that have larger font for a learners who is visually impaired or make sure the computers we are using have software on them for visually impaired students.

This will allow the learner to still be included within the session and have the same access to learning as the all the other learners (Charlotte, 2012). When selecting resources to meet the needs of the learners it is not just those with disabilities we have to consider, We have to consider whether the resources are relevant to the what we are teaching, are the resources appropriate to the ability of the group, how much they cost, what sort of condition they are in.

We should also consider the quality of the resources we are selecting and making sure that all copywriting procedures are adhered to for example permission to photocopy a book. Assessment is fundamental to learning, as it helps track the progress of your learners, and help highlight any problems your learners might have (Melbourne, 2012). There are many different ways you can create assessment opportunities these include, demonstration, observations, case studies, tests, discussions, questions and so on.

Assessment can usually split into two types these; summative and formative, Summative assessment is the use of tests, case studies and assignments where marking and grading has taken place whereas formative assessments has more emphasis on observation and the decision making of the learner (Study Mode, 2011) It is important when setting assessments that the learners are able to achieve with the set method assessment and that different types of assessment opportunities are used (Charlotte, 2012).

Formative assessments are assessments including observation this may be as simple as watching the learner perform a task such drawing, demonstration someone showing that they can perform a skill, presentation, discussion, questioning are forms of formative assessment. It is important that we use these assessment methods throughout the duration of learning and assessments follow a cycle and is ongoing. Literacy, language, numeracy and ICT skills are essential part of all our learners education no matter what we teach, so it is important as teachers we create opportunities for our learners to develop their skills in these areas.

It is important we discuss with the learners their ability in theses skills and talk about their previous qualifications and abilities to perform skills. Creating opportunities for literacy and language skills can be things such as case studies, reflective journals, speaking and listening activities, discussion, presentations. Opportunities to practise ICT skills include setting assignments and tasks on computers such as creating a spreadsheet, word document, presentations, searching for information on the interne, e-mails, online forums etc.

Most learners will understand the importance of learning but for some students the love of learning itself will not enough to motivate them (CEP). It is essential that teachers use techniques to engage and motivate learners. One way of engaging and motivating learners is through active learning. Active learning forms an inherent part of the learning process. If the teacher was to ignore the use of learning active learning then learners rates would not be retained, performance would become disjointed and their motivational levels would be lowered.

It is known that engaged students examine educational content more comprehensively. (Green & Casale-Giannola, 2011) One way to motivate and engage learners is by the use of goal setting. Setting goals can give clear aims for the learners and something to work towards it also allows the learners to have a sense of achievement. Setting activities that appropriate to their ability is an important part of learning if a learner finds a task to difficult this can lead them to becoming unmotivated very quickly and you may find them difficult to engage.

It is also important as teachers that we are motivated to teach and engaged with the learners for example if we speaking in a very mono-tonal voice at the same pitch and volume it will be hard to motivate the students. Tutorials, 1-21’s are also good ways to engage and motivate this allows learners to ask questions individual to them and make sense of anything they don’t understand and catch up on any missed work. All the other active learning approaches that were previously discussed are other ways to engage and motivate students.

It’s important to establish ground rules to minimise disruption and create a more positive learning environment (Learning & teaching, 2012). Ground rules only really work if they are shared and that the learners have agreed to them (Learning & teaching, 2012), therefore techniques that involve learners in the setting of the ground rules are going to have more chance of being successful. The Quality of assurance agency suggests four different ways to establish ground rules that include which all have the same learning objectives.

One of the their suggestions is to have a discussion in small groups about the following points: * Positive experiences – think about the best groups or teams you have been involved with? Why were they successful? * Negative experiences – think about the worst groups or teams you have been involved with? Why were they unsuccessful? * Discuss how groups can promote Positive experiences and prevent negative experiences. * Draft up some ground rules that the whole team agree with. (QIA, 2008).

I have used this technique in my own teaching experiences and found it very successful. It gives the learners ownership of the rules and understanding of why we set rules. It also makes the learners feel that the rules are not being imposed or enforced upon them and makes them easier to adhere too. There are other ways of setting ground rules and these include the learners each writing down a ground rule on post-it note and sticking onto a whiteboard the group then discuss the rules and agree on a set.

Another way is to prepare different ground rules on pre prepared slips and handing out to the learners each learner will read out their slip or slips if the have more than one and the group will agree to which ones they keep. The slips can include sensible and realistic goals or some more silly unrealistic goals however be careful on what silly rules you come up with because it could turn into a practical joke if the group decide to keep it (QIA, 2008) Constructive feedback allows learners to increase their self-awareness, offers guidance and encourages development.

There for it is important as teachers that we can give constructive feedback to our students but also that we can receive it from both our students and managers. There are some important points to consider when giving feedback and it is important that the feedback we did is given in a controlled and skilful manner. Start with the positives this helps encourage the leaner’s and will also encourage the learners to become more recipient to the person giving the feedback. It is also important that the feedback we give to the learners is specific and we avoid using general comments.

This gives the learners something to build upon and creates an opportunity for learning to occur. It is important that we refer to behaviour that can be changed and encourage the learners to think about what they could do better or are going to do next time. Owning the feedback you give is crucial and therefore you need to take responsibility for the feedback you give. When the constructive feedback is given you should of left the learner with a choice and it is up to them whether or not they act upon your suggestions, this also helps to examine the consequences of whether or not the learner has decided to act.

References

Bronwell & Eison (1991) Active Learning: Creating Excitement in the Classroom. ERIC Digest [WWW] http://www. oid. ucla. edu/about/units/tatp/old/lounge/pedagogy/downloads/active-learning-eric. pdf [Accessed on: 15/11/2012] Charlotte (2012) How to select resources that meet the needs of learners H2 [WWW] http://charlottepttls. blogspot. co. uk/2012/04/how-to-select-resources-that-meet-needs. html [Accessed on: 15/11/2012] De Vita (2001) Learning Styles, Culture and Inclusive Instruction in the Multicultural Classroom: A Business and Management Perspective [WWW] http://www. peakeasydesigns. com/SDSU/student/SAGE/compsprep/bus_learning_style. pdf [Accessed on: 15/11/2012] Green and Casale-Giannola (2011) 40 Active Learning Strategies for the Inclusive Classroom, Grades K-5: Engaging students in the inclusive classroom [WWW] http://www. corwin. com/upmdata/39528_Pages_from_Green_ch1. pdf) [Accessed on: 15/11/2012] Hanson (1996)

Teaching Styles and Strategies: Interventions to Enrich Instructional Decision-Making [WWW] http://www. dedicatedteacher. com/samples/DDTr/ctr1328s. df [Accessed on: 15/11/2012] Learning and Teaching (2012) Ground Rules [WWW] http://www. learningandteaching. info/teaching/ground_rules. htm [Accessed on: 15/11/2012] LSIS (2012) Inclusive Teaching and Learning [WWW] http://tlp. excellencegateway. org. uk/tlp/cpd/assets/documents/inclusive_teaching_learning. pdf [Accessed on: 15/11/2012] Melbourne (2012) H3 – How to create assessment opportunities that meet the needs of learners [WWW] http://lucymelbourneptlls. blogspot. co. uk/2012/04/h3-how-to-create-assessment. tml [Accessed on: 15/11/2012] QIA (2008) Teaching and Learning Programme [WWW] http://tlp. excellencegateway. org. uk/tlp/pedagogy/assets/documents/agreeing_rules_cl. pdf [Accessed on: 15/11/2012] Richards & Armstrong, (2008) Key issues for teaching assistants: working in divers and inclusive classrooms