Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Setting Up Inclusion

My classroom is a self-contained classroom for students with autism.  My 13 students are with me for pretty much the entire day.  Even the service providers (like speech and OT) usually push-in to my classroom.  This is great for helping my students maintain their structure and routine.  However, it doesn't give them many opportunities for participating in activities with other students or experiencing "changes" inherent in real life.  In order to facilitate inclusion in a way that works for my students, they go to gym, music, and library with their gen ed peers.  Since I teach 3 grades (and I want my students included with their appropriate grade), this can be quite confusing and complicated to add to our daily schedule.  My students also need an aid to go with them, so this adds another layer of complexity to making inclusion work.

I usually wait a couple weeks to start inclusion so that my students can adjust back into their school routine.  During these weeks, I try and get the inclusion schedule set up and help the gen ed teachers prepare their students for having my students join their classes.  At the beginning of the year, I ask my vice principal for all of the schedules for gym, music, and library.  I compare it to my schedule and try and find the best fit where my students will miss the least instruction.  I make sure that each students goes with their appropriate grade (however, since we have 3 classes of each grade, it allows some flexibility with scheduling).  I also have to make sure I have enough aids to cover the students in the classroom as well as those going to inclusion classes.  When possible, I also try and consult with the music, gym, and library teachers to figure out which class they want my students included with.  Sometimes, one class is smaller or nicer or knows my kids better, so we try and work this in as well.  This year, it worked out nicely that I have most of my inclusion during the last hour of the day.  

You know how I LOVE schedules?!  Well, I make quite a few versions of schedules for us adults to help us remember to go to inclusion!  First of all, I include inclusion on my student schedules and I put the aid's name next to it.  This way, when my students go to check their schedule, they usually say "time for gym with Ms. Goel."  This not only reminds me that it is time for inclusion, but reminds the aid responsible that it is time to go as well.  

I also post an inclusion schedule for the week on the wall so I can easily check it each day.  This includes the time, class, grade, and assistant responsible for going.  

In addition, I send a note out to the gym, music, and library teacher and provide them with the inclusion schedule.

I also send a note home with parents so they know which classes their child will be included in.
The gen ed students also need to be prepared for when our students join their classes.  In years past, I have gone to classes and done a short lesson on autism.  Since many of the kids have had this lesson for a few years now, this year, we decided to send out the materials (including facts about autism, how to be a friend to someone with autism, and some worksheets) for teachers to implement with their classes.  I also have books about autism that I offer to teachers to use if they need another way to explain autism to their classroom.

Some of my students are able to participate in 1-2 classes (like gym and music), but library can be a struggle since you have to sit quietly for a full hour!!  Some students need even more opportunities than 3 classes per week for inclusion. And, of course, somel of my students are not at all ready for this type of academic experience.  For these guys, we try and do some reverse inclusion throughout the year (where kids from the gen ed come into our classroom for activities).  This truly has to be an individualized experience.  Some kids are just ready to do more than others.  And, in the meantime, we continue to try and build skills in the classroom to help every kid have more opportunities to engage with other students. 

How are you including students at your school?

Check out this post on how my assistants take data during inclusion!


  1. All of my students go to gen ed PE every day so I can have a planning period. All of the aides also go. I have a student that goes to Gen ed social studies and science, with an aide. He also goes to resource room (SPED) Math with an aide. We have 4 levels of SPED in our school: resource, level 2 (kids with academics significantly lower than what a resource can handle, but in other ways are typically developing although sometimes they have other disabilities too), EBD and then my Autism program. I have one student who is included in the Level 2 class for Social studies and social skills. The rest are not ready yet. It can be challenging to figure it all out, but I only have 6 students so it was relatively easy to include the students that need to be included, for everyone to get a lunch including me, and for me to get my planning period.

  2. I have a similar set up in my room as well. However, I have one para for my group of five 1st and 2nd graders. It is extremely difficult to schedule inclusion time with different levels, especially when I have a second grader working on 1st grade curricula, but ends up missing quality instruction with the first graders, as he is at specials in inclusion. It's an art - not a science, but all teaching is! Thanks for the post :)

    Mindful Rambles

  3. How many aides do you have? I have 8 life skills students, 1 being in a wheelchair/tube feeding, and a variety of 5 different grade levels. For our specials they are included everyday and K-2 goes to 1st grade and 3-5 goes to 4th grade. I also have 1 2nd grade and 2 3rd grade math reading inclusion for socialization. With that being said I have 2 aides, we were verbally approved a 3rd aid but it has not happened yet. I just found out I am getting 3 new K who mostly need 1 on 1's and ready to start pushing for 4th aid. I just wanted to know how many aides other people have.

    1. I have 4 aids. 2 are 1:1 aids for students in my classroom, and my other 11 students share the other 2 aids.