Creating an Environment of Inclusion

Have you ever created a Wordle?  Wordles provide a visual means of representing text through word clouds.  Words that appear more frequently in text appear larger in the cloud.  For example, I created the following Wordle using the principles of effective inclusion from a number of resources (Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth, 2014; Halvorsen & Neary, 2009; Peterson & Hittie, 2007; Salend, 2008):


As illustrated, the most prominent words here are development, learning, and instruction.  Inclusive schools focus on learning for all students, provide quality professional development, and plan for and deliver effective instructional practices (Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth, 2014; Halvorsen & Neary, 2009; Peterson & Hittie, 2007; Salend, 2008).  Additionally, according to these sources, inclusive leaders develop partnerships with parents, create collaborative environments for teachers, and nurture a culture of learning for all.

Inclusive schools require a foundation that supports a climate and culture of inclusion.  As noted above, leadership, parental involvement, a collaborative and supportive environment, and a focus on learning are some of these foundational elements.  Henley, Ramsey, and Algozzine (2009) note that both general and special educators “have at their disposal instructional strategies to facilitate the learning of students with and without disabilities” (p. 257).  Kronowitz (2012) describes practices of effective teachers.  These practices include (a) planning for and implementing classroom organization and management, (b) engaging in positive discipline, (c) planning and delivering quality instruction to diverse learners, (d) engaging students in their learning, (e) assessing and communicating student progress, and (f) participating in reflective practice and professional learning.

This edition of Link Lines focuses on practices that promote effective instruction and inclusive education.  Guided reading is an instructional method that supports students in becoming independent readers.  Techniques to maximize the effectiveness of this approach for struggling learners are provided in Mary Murray Stowe’s and Jan Rozzelle’s article entitled Intensifying Instructional Delivery During Guided Reading.

In Open-Ended Math Questions Reveal Student Thinking, Donni Davis-Perry provides a rich description of open-ended questioning as well as written examples, video illustrations, and T/TAC library resources that support effective questioning.  Summarizing is a critical skill for effective reading comprehension and writing.  Short and Snappy Summarizing Strategies by Lee Anne Sulzberger provides summarizing strategies that help students put information into their own words.

Another effective instructional method, strategic master scheduling, provides a structure to support the provision of a continuum of services for students with disabilities.  In her article, Laying the Foundation: Considerations for Scheduling Students With Disabilities, Elaine Gould provides scheduling teams with tips and tools for developing a master schedule that supports the education of students with disabilities in the general education setting.

Finally, teachers often take advantage of summer learning opportunities to ensure that they expand their knowledge and skills for meeting the needs of all learners.  Professional Learning Never Stops: Making the Most of Professional Development During the Summer by Lee Anne Sulzberger is an encore article that describes professional learning models and provides updated resources for teachers to discover summer learning opportunities.


Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth. (2014, September). Inclusive education for students with disabilities: A review of the best evidence in relation to theory and practice. Retrieved from

Halvorsen, A. T., & Neary, T. (2009). Building inclusive schools: Tools and strategies for success (2nd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.

Henley, M., Ramsey, R. S., & Algozzine, R. F. (2009). Characteristics of and strategies for teaching students with mild disabilities (6th ed.). Columbus, OH: Pearson.

Kronowitz, E. L. (2012). The teacher’s guide to success (2nd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.

Peterson, J. M., & Hittie, M. M. (2007). Inclusive teaching: The journey towards effective schools for all learners (2nd ed.).  Boston, MA: Pearson.

Salend, S. J. (2008). Creating inclusive classrooms: Effective and reflective practices (6th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.