Coralwood’s Full Inclusion Model

What Does it Look Like and How Does it Work?
by Lisa Nasser and Michelle Little, August, 2012.

 

WHY AN INCLUSION APPROACH?

In a global economy, it is vital that our next generation is one of out-of-the-box thinkers who will be able to solve the unique problems of the future.

 

Research shows that raising creative decision-makers starts at the preschool level with guided play. Play-based learning, which is the foundation of the Coralwood Pre K program, allows children to grow, at their own individual pace, as decision-makers, problem solvers, and creative thinkers. The social interactions and pretend scenarios, facilitated during play, teach children to advocate for themselves, work effectively with others, negotiate, and use their imaginations. Children of inclusion classrooms stand to benefit even more because their play takes place in an environment of diversity, where they are challenged, unknowingly, to understand and accept differences in people and to react well to adversity.

 

Furthermore, typically developing children in inclusion classrooms can watch their teachers, “trained professionals”, interact appropriately with children with specific social, emotional, and physical needs, and therefore, pick up strategies to use in future social and academic settings. Young children who are exposed to diversity and immersed in playful learning are more likely to develop the important social and intellectual skills needed to become effective leaders in a global future.

 

HOW DOES AN INCLUSION MODEL WORK?

Because inclusion learning is empirically proven to be such an effective teaching model, three types of classrooms operate independently and collaboratively within the walls of Coralwood. This provides as much inclusion exposure as possible for all children. All three models are supported by specialists who deliver their therapies within the classroom for all of the children and by sometimes pulling students out for individual instruction.

 

The self-contained classroom model is a carefully structured environment where students work in a small, controlled setting with a special education teacher usually supported by a number of paraprofessionals. This model allows students to work on individually tailored educational plans at different academic and social skill levels. Self-contained classes offer structure, routine, and appropriate expectations for students who may require a higher level of specialization.

 

Inclusion opportunities within a self-contained model are created through collaboration between the self-contained and inclusion teachers. An example of this is an invitation to the self-contained students to participate in events such as the Pre K Transportation Station either individually or in small groups. Inclusive opportunities are created in two other ways within these classrooms. Reverse inclusion allows one or a small group of typically developing students from another classroom to visit a self-contained classroom to serve as peer models and play partners for other students. A more commonly used pull-out model provides an opportunity for self-contained students to visit an inclusive classroom on a regular basis to participate in appropriately structured activities.

 

INCLUSION IN THE THREE-YEAR-OLD PROGRAM

A second classroom form of inclusion is used in the three-year-old program at Coralwood. Since no state or county funding is available to support a regular education teacher, a special education teacher supported by two paraprofessionals, conducts smaller inclusion classes consisting of six students with I.E.P.s together with 10 typically developing students. Currently, there are four classrooms of this type for three-year-olds funded solely on special education dollars.

 

Coralwood employs a team teaching model of full inclusion in Pre K and Kindergarten where a regular education teacher, a special education teacher, and at least one paraprofessional work to educate up to twenty-two children. These teachers partner, contributing equally to all planning and assessment both for typically developing and special needs children. Special education therapies are most often delivered inside the classroom providing an opportunity for all children to benefit from the expertise of highly trained specialists in areas such as speech and occupational therapy. This team approach increases the school’s capability to accommodate all children’s learning styles and needs employing carefully structured prescriptive instruction together with exploratory learning provided through the collaboration of all teaching professionals.

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