5 Ideas to Include Every Child in your Classroom: Inclusion Strategies

We can include every child in our classroom with these five important reminders from inclusion expert, Toby Karten. Children are precious and important. These reminders can help us all be better teachers.

PowerSchool is my SIS and LMS and is the sponsor of today’s show. On January 31, they have a free webinarPreparing Students for Success: Measuring What Matters. Jake Cotton, a superintendent from Virginia, will be sharing.

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Below is an enhanced transcript, modified for your reading pleasure. All comments in the shaded green box are my own. For guests and hyperlinks to resources, scroll down.


Enhanced Transcript

5 Ideas to Include Every Child

Link to show: www.coolcatteacher.com/e240
Date: January 26, 2018

Vicki: Hello!

Today we’re talking to Toby Karten @TJK2INCLUDE about five ideas to include every child.

She is author of Inclusion Strategies That Work, now in its third edition, and many other books. Check the Shownotes for that.

So, Toby, what is your first idea?

Toby: Well, my first idea I’m going to go with is attitude.

Idea #1: Attitude

That’s the one thing that research says stops inclusion from working.

When I talk about attitude, I’m talking about the attitude of not only staff but of students as well, and trying to beef up the student who says he or she cannot do something instead of saying, “Maybe I could not do it YET,” and have an attitude that has a growth mindset. I think that that is essential.

Vicki: So attitude for both students and teachers?

Toby: , Oh, attitude for everyone! It’s so important, whether it’s the person driving the bus who knows how to treat a child with an IEP or a 504 plan, down to the crossing guard, down to the school secretary, the administration. Everybody. Family as well. Having a positive attitude that success is around the corner.

Vicki: OK, what's our second?

Toby: The second one is very important as well.

It’s figuring out how to get the evidence-based practices that research says are effective strategies to turn around and make those effective strategies a reality — when you are teaching initial consonants, or when you are teaching how to solve equations with more than one variable.

Idea #2: Evidence-Based Practices

Those evidence-based practices such as VAKT (Visual Auditory Kinesthetic Tactile) — that’s based on the fact that evidence says that there are different types of learners. So if there are different types of learners, hence we have to teach differently.

I’ll give you a concrete example. The child who might not know how to divide a fraction and what’s a reciprocal. You might ask them to stand on their head or turn upside down, and then they have the meaning of the word more than if you just wrote the definition on the board.

So the second tip that I really want to say is, “OK. This is what research says. Now what does it look like when I’m teaching ‘blank’?”

Value the research as part of your tools in your toolbox.

Vicki: OK. What’s our third?

Toby: Please understand that these aren’t in any specific order.

But the third one is collaboration.

Idea #3: Collaboration

It’s OK to say, “I can’t do this alone.” especially these days when Gen Ed and Special Ed lines are so blurred, and you need support of someone else.

Whether you’re co-teaching with someone, an instructional assistant, or families for ideas, and also students as you’re collaborating partners, there are related staff that you could go to for help.

A child with dyslexia, for example, I’m going to go to the speech and language pathologist for ideas to increase phonemic awareness. Or maybe (I’ll go to) the occupational therapist if a child has autism and might need some kind of sensory diet. So my third one is collaboration.

Never close your door and say, “ I have to figure this out all by myself.”

There are many, many collaborators out there.

Vicki: I can speak to the truth of this.

I have three children. Two of them have learning differences. My youngest has dyslexia. It has been a partnership of so many people. When you partner, you get these ideas, and you apply them as the parent of the teacher. I’ve been both, here.

Toby: (laughs)

Vicki: (laughs)

You can see incredible results. I mean my son is now in 10th grade and reading on a college level. It took a long time for him to learn to read. But we needed so many partners. That’s such great advice there, Toby.

What’s our fourth?

Toby: Our fourth. It’s not the fourth being the last one, but it’s the administrative support.

Idea #4: Administrative Support

Realize that a lot of times I’ll go into school systems now in my role as an Inclusion Coach. I’ll have a presentation, like I’m here as I mentioned to you at ASCD in Florida right now, presenting to leaders. That’s administrative support, because nobody points fingers at anybody and says, “Well, why did they schedule it this way?”

There’s a Native American saying, “Until you walk a mile in someone else’s moccasins…”

We all want the same thing, for students to succeed. This kind of piggyback on the collaboration one as well with the administrators. They are a huge part of this. I myself was a teacher in the classroom for several decades, and if I walked in and I didn’t like what was going on with a certain student, I walked right into my administrator's office. I’d share what I thought needed to be done, not only just with the problem, but what I viewed as a solution.

So with that, value each other as partners — in it together. Know that the administration isn’t on one side. The teachers aren’t on the other side with the children. We’re all together as part of it.

Vicki: Such great advice. What’s our fifth?

Toby: I do have to share that some of these are from a QRG (Quick Reference Guide) that I have — Inclusions: Do’s, Don’ts, and Do Betters.

I put them together as part of the inclusion “pie,” and the fifth one that I had was SDI. Fortunately or unfortunately, special education is a vegetable soup of initials.

SDI stands for “Specially Designed Instruction.”

Idea #5: Specially Designed Instruction


That has to be honored. It has to be honored in the sense that it’s not just honored on a child’s IEP, but when a child is fully included in a classroom, he or she is treated as an integral part of that classroom, getting that SDI that might be written in a child’s IEP, but at the same time it’s not pseudo-inclusion. It’s not a child being singled out as the child who’s getting this SDI. You make a lot of these strategies, specially designed for all children. Quite honestly, that SDI overlaps into GTP, as I call it, which is “Good Teaching Practices.”

So value (the fact that) how you’re helping one student might help another student, whether she has an IEP (or not). Inclusion, if it’s truly done right, benefits all learners. Everyone can benefit from that research-based intervention, with compassion of course.

Vicki: Toby, what’s the biggest mistake that educators make with inclusion?

Toby: Oh. Ummm. Gee.

How much time?

Vicki: (laughs)

Oh!!! We have 30-seconds to a minute! (laughs)

Toby: (laughs) OK!

So here’s the one I would say: Be kind to yourself. It’s evolutionary.

I’ll say that word again: evolutionary.

Remember: Reaching Every Child is Evolutionary – It Takes Time

I’ll give you an example.

Suppose I want to lose five pounds, and I was really good on my “diet” today. I weigh myself the next day, and I didn’t lose my five pounds! Gee, I wonder why…

It’s evolutionary. Stay the course. Follow those research-based practices. Document. Keep data.

Be flexible that your strategies are based on student progress and that progress monitoring. So know that inclusion will happen, but it is evolutionary. You plant seeds. Sometimes it takes a while and the right conditions for those seeds to grow. Just know that your bottom line is successful outcomes, and you’ll get there.

Vicki: Teachers, every day is an important day. Every day is a day that we can make progress. We’ve gotten some fantastic advice to include every child. Every child will benefit from this advice.

Check the Shownotes for all of the incredible books that you can get — and to connect with Toby.

Thanks for being with us!

Toby: My pleasure! Thank you!

Contact us about the show: https://www.coolcatteacher.com/contact/

Transcribed by Kymberli Mulford kymberlimulford@gmail.com

Bio as submitted

Toby Karten, an inclusion coach, educational consultant, author, professor, and consummate collaborator, has taught populations of learners ranging from preschool to graduate level. Throughout her professional career, Ms. Karten has translated the research into practical applications to assist students, pre service and practicing educators, related staff, administrators, and families to collaboratively walk the inclusion talk to achieve successful outcomes.

Blog: Toby J. Karten


Check out Books from Toby Karten

Disclosure of Material Connection: This is a “sponsored podcast episode.” The company who sponsored it compensated me via cash payment, gift, or something else of value to include a reference to their product. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I believe will be good for my readers and are from companies I can recommend. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.) This company has no impact on the editorial content of the show.

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Vicki Davis

Vicki Davis is a full-time classroom teacher and IT Director in Georgia, USA. She is Mom of three, wife of one, and loves talking about the wise, transformational use of technology for teaching and doing good in the world. She hosts the 10 Minute Teacher Podcast which interviews teachers around the world about remarkable classroom practices to inspire and help teachers. Vicki focuses on what unites us -- a quest for truly remarkable life-changing teaching and learning. The goal of her work is to provide actionable, encouraging, relevant ideas for teachers that are grounded in the truth and shared with love. Vicki has been teaching since 2002 and blogging since 2005. Vicki has spoken around the world to inspire and help teachers reach their students. She is passionate about helping every child find purpose, passion, and meaning in life with a lifelong commitment to the joy and responsibility of learning. If you talk to Vicki for very long, she will encourage you to "Relate to Educate" or "innovate like a turtle" or to be "a remarkable teacher." She loves to talk to teachers who love their students and are trying to do their best. Twitter is her favorite place to share and she loves to make homemade sourdough bread and cinnamon rolls and enjoys running half marathons with her sisters. You can usually find her laughing with her students or digging into a book.

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Vicki Davis writes The Cool Cat Teacher Blog for classroom teachers everywhere