10 Teacher Training Ideas for an Inclusive Classroom
Adapted from the Lutheran Church in America Division for Parish Service's "Tips for Congregations Working with Disabled Persons"
An inclusive classroom is about innovation and preparation. For both teacher and student, the motto is "there is no right way to do something." Be creative and seek out ideas from others. Involve a congregational member who is a person with a disability and/or parent of a child with a disability in the planning of the curriculum and activities. You as the teacher may be a person with a disability. Please share your experience and insights.
- Realize each child is unique, and a child with a disability is an individual. There are many disabilities, and students with the same disability may respond differently. If you are unfamiliar with disabilities, become aware. Many organizations advocating on behalf of persons with disabilities provide general informational brochures. See the section below on addresses and phone numbers of the organizations.
- Teaching a child who has a disability is identifying the child's learning style, gifts and talents and then using this information to include the student in all class activities. The best sources to learn about the child are from the child and the child's parent(s). Ask the child and his or her parent(s) whether the child responds well to visual, auditory, and/or kinesthetic (meaning through action) learning. Use the child's and the parent's answers to prepare activities and lessons to correspond to the child's best learning methods. For example, if a child learns well kinesthetically, act out Noah and the Ark instead of reading the Bible verses. Another good source to learn about the child is the child's school teachers. Seek permission and involve the child's parents when contacting the school teachers.
- Always include a student with a disability in all class activities; do not shelter the student with a disability. Encourage the child to share their gifts and talents and to participate in congregational events.
- Realize that teacher acceptance is a prerequisite to peer acceptance. Help the child feel accepted, and once he or she does, the student will usually meet your expectations if your expectations are within his or her ability.
- Be aware that you may need to go back repeatedly in teaching concepts before they are learned, and use a variety of techniques during the repetition.
- Call upon your synod to assist you in identifying other congregations who have created inclusive classrooms. Ask other teachers about inclusive Sunday school and confirmation curricula that they recommend. Find out if your synod has a synod disability team. These teams may be able to offer their expertise.
- Contact the ELCA churchwide Education and Evangelism Team at (800)638-3522 ext. 2557 for an inclusive classroom Christian education resource list.
- Be consistent in your teaching style and pattern of class sessions, gradually modify patterns.
- Do not be in a hurry; tolerate periods of silence while the student thinks and formulates an answer.
- Remember we are here to be Christ-centered. This applies to every child. If the Bible stories and curriculum are not taught, but the commandment "love your neighbor" is, you have done your job.