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The factors that determine both success OR failure to the same degree of importance when it comes to education are:
- resource availability
- quality assurance
In the field of education you will find that these very factor dictate the way in which Continuous School Improvement teams determine whether the goal of the organization is being met, and whether the students are being served best. This includes every single student.
First, every educational organization's mission and vision assumes that ALL students are diverse; that all of them, SPED, ESL, Gifted, or GenEd, ALL of them learn differently, need different inputs, and deserve a myriad of opportunities to become engaged in the learning process.
This being said resource availability is the most important determinant of success. Why? Because resources are both material and human: teachers, school supplies, books, training guides, educational materials, school nurses, school counselors, Speech therapists...all of these are considered resources that are ALL paid by the same budget. Hence, without this availability the chances of success in education will immediately become imbalanced.
Once it is certain that diverse students will have the needed resources to be taught like GenEd students, comes the issue of quality assurance. WHO are we bringing in to provide the services? Is this person trained, or is it just someone hired to filled a position until someone better is found? When it comes to materials, how good are the materials that the co-teachers will use in a GenEd classroom where both diverse and general students will be serviced equally? Are the materials conducive to inclusion? Are they up to date? Do they consider the needs of all 21st century learners?
After resources and their quality are accounted for, come consistency and continuity. Consistency entails that all IEP's, SST strategies, proposed interventions, purchased programs and approved materials WILL be put to use in the regular classroom in the way that it is meant to: to bring GenEd and Diverse students to a medium where both groups benefit from the co-teaching collaboration. The moment one teacher decides to go against the grain, or the other teacher neglects to organize the available resources as it should happen, there is a high danger of corrupting the teaching and learning process and having the students fall behind.
Another thing with consistency is that both students and teachers have to be in the same page. If diverse students will be included in the GenEd classroom, all students should understand how the classroom dynamics will be: how transition times will take place, when stopping points will come, how the students are to take turns, move about the room, and lead mini-groups. Organization and routine are extremely important in inclusion classrooms, and this is the key to consistency.
Continuity and revision are terms that entail that the learning process as well as the co-teaching and the co-planning of classroom intervention and strategies is never-ending. Plans and strategies are to be reviewed according to data and teachers should use the data to guide instruction; to see what works and what does not work. This active participation means that the process continues to evolve as the learners, themselves, evolve too.
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