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Removing barriers to learning: ways to promote inclusion in your classroom

Jayne Pletser, curriculum manager for inclusive education at the IB, shares ways to create a classroom that promotes a sense of belonging, safety, self-worth and whole growth so that every student experiences success as a key component of learning. 

This blog is the second of four parts focusing on inclusion and learning diversity in IB programmes, featuring examples from the IB community. The first blog introduced the definition of inclusion at the IB, and why understanding and removing barriers to learning are crucial in creating an inclusive environment.

  1. Be confident that inclusion is enhanced when you create affirmative, responsive learning environments.
  2. Ensure that all students experience equal opportunities to participate and pursue appropriate learning goals that maximize their potential.
  3. Affirm student identities, build self-esteem and teach to student strengths.
  4. Value prior knowledge, connect to new learning and engage students in their learning.
  5. Teach to remove barriers to learning for all students: use a combination of universal design (proactive design of the learning environment and curriculum) and differentiated instruction (responding to individual needs) to optimise learning.
  6. Ensure learning growth for all students through high expectations, and effective and holistic assessment for learning that includes observations and learning focused feedback.
  7. Ensure that all students are given opportunities to fully demonstrate their knowledge, skills and understanding during assessment (for and of learning).
  8. Ensure that access arrangements are based upon the optimal support that the student requires (not more or less than needed), reflect the best interests in terms of development of student learning and are the usual way of working in teaching and learning as well as assessment.
  9. Empower students to develop agency and understand what works for them as learners.

Community examples of inclusion in the classroom:

A teacher’s guide: Using social justice topics in the classroom

Topics surrounding social justice issues can elicit discomfort but a High Meadows school in Roswell, Georgia (USA) are having these conversations. It creates an inclusive learning environment for students of all races, nationalities, and sexualities, and also stimulates critical thinking and perspective sharing.

Promoting kindness and inclusion

MYP students at Roxboro Middle School in Cleveland Heights (USA) used their personal project to promote the positive impacts of immigration, considering the US’s travel ban on many countries. They employed international mindedness to try to create a more inclusive and supportive environment for immigrants.  

Sonu Khosla, Head of Inclusive Education/ Special Education Needs Department at Pathways School Noida, India

Inclusion in the classroom

“If a child can’t learn the way we teach, maybe we should teach the way they learn.” A PYP teacher at Pathways School Noida, India discusses the inclusive pedagogy and strategies to make learning more inclusive.

Bringing different nationalities together

The Lycée Technique du Center in Luxembourg explains how it integrates students from all over the world successfully through insertion classes and sharing each other’s cultures and histories — and three alumni share their experiences.

IB World School coordinators and teachers can read ‘Learning diversity and inclusion in IB programmes: Removing barriers to learning’ and ‘Access and inclusion policy’ to find out more about teaching, learning, and assessment for inclusive education.