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Week 4: A toolkit for inclusive teaching and learning

Site: OpenLearn Create
Course: Inclusive Teaching and Learning
Book: Week 4: A toolkit for inclusive teaching and learning
Printed by: Guest user
Date: Friday, 1 December 2023, 12:55 PM

1. Introduction

Supporting inclusive teaching and learning

In order to achieve the vision for inclusive education set out in the Salamanca Statement and Framework for Action on Special Needs Education (UNESCO, 1994), policies that support inclusive teaching are needed. Many such policies are in place, however, implementing them is proving more difficult. In weeks 2 and 3 the focus was on why learner-centred education (LCE) is an appropriate policy response for calls for inclusive education, what it means and what inclusive teaching and learning look like in practice. Change takes time. This week’s focus is on the support needed to encourage and develop inclusive teaching practices – the how of managing change. You will be introduced to the idea of a teachers ‘toolkit’, and begin to build your own.

This week you will:

  • engage with ideas about how teachers learn
  • consider what it means to be a ‘reflective practitioner’
  • review resources that are available to support inclusive teaching
  • reflect on your learning on this course.

1.1. Activities for the week

Activity number





Knowledge for teaching

Use the information provided and relate it to your own experience

30 mins


Reflecting on teaching

Use some reflective questions to analyse your own teaching



Understanding OERs

Watch a slidecast about OERs and the issues surrounding their use

30 mins


Key Resources

Review the COL’s ‘Teacher Futures’ Key Resources

30 mins


Subject resources

Review TESSA, TESS-India and Khan Academy

1 hour


Resources to support inclusive education

Review the TESSA Inclusive Education Toolkit and the GATE resources from The Open University

30 mins


Action planning for inclusive teaching and learning

Review your notes from the course and make a personal action plan.

1 hour



Complete the end-of-course quiz

20 mins

1.2. Knowledge for teaching

Learning to be a teacher is a complicated process – yet it is often presented as being straightforward – simply a matter of following a set of rules (knowledge of which is tested by exam) or following a prescribed lesson plan. In order to understand how to become a better inclusive teacher, it is helpful to think about what it is teachers need to know and be able to do.

One way to think about this issue is to consider knowledge about teaching as falling into three categories:

  • Knowledge for practice
  • Knowledge of practice
  • Knowledge in practice

Knowledge for practice: This includes well-established theories about the philosophy, psychology and sociology of education. The teacher learns the theories from lectures and by reading books and papers. It is knowledge which is treated as being objective and fixed. // Knowledge in practice: This develops as teachers practise their craft. It is the tacit knowledge that teachers use to think wisely in the classroom, making ‘in the moment’ decisions about teaching and learning. It is subjective and includes the things that teachers do instinctively when they respond to learners or change an activity which is not working. Teachers learn through reflection on practice and discussion with others. // Knowledge of practice: This is knowledge of the context. It is includes the things that teachers instinctively ‘know’ about their context. Different teachers will experience the context differently, so this knowledge is subjective – it cannot be considered to be ‘right’ or ‘wrong’. Teachers work in the social and cultural environment to build a relationship with learners. Teacher learning involves being prepared to challenge their own assumptions and interpretations, and understanding the context in which they are working, including the needs and background of their learners, in order to develop their own teaching personality.  When a teacher moves schools, they need to work with colleagues to come to understand their new context. Teaching approaches that have worked before might need to be changed. Teachers learn through reflection on practice and collaboration with others.

Figure 1  The three categories of teaching ‘knowledge’ (drawn from Cohran-Smith and Lytle, 1999). View PDF version

Activity 4.1 Knowledge for teaching

Allow approximately 30 minutes for this activity.

  1. Think back about your own experience of learning to be a teacher and of working as a teacher. In your study notebook make a list of what it is that you ‘know’ that someone who is not a teacher doesn’t, e.g. theories of learning, the school curriculum, how to control a class, how to plan a lesson, how to organise the classroom, etc.
  2. Next, draw a table with three columns with the headings: knowledge for practice, knowledge of practice and knowledge in practice. Sort your list from part 1 into the three columns.
  3. Now think about your training to be a teacher. What did the different aspects of your training contribute to what you now know and are able to do? Annotate your table to show how and where you learnt the different aspects of your craft as a teacher. If you are unqualified, annotate the table to show how you have come to know the knowledge and skills you have listed.

1.3. Developing knowledge for teaching

Many teachers find that in their training they learn ‘knowledge for practice’ by attending lectures, reading books and answering exam questions. ‘Knowledge of practice’ and ‘knowledge in practice’ come from teaching practice (or practicum/school experience) and from on-going professional practice as a teacher or teacher-educator. Current research suggests that knowledge of practice and knowledge in practice are developed most effectively through collaboration, practise and reflection.

This course focuses on helping you develop your ‘knowledge of practice’ and ‘knowledge in practice’.

Teachers in Kenya working together during school-based teacher development

Figure 2  Teachers in Kenya working together during school-based teacher development

Many teacher preparation and in-service courses focus on ‘knowledge for practice’, whereas what teachers need is ‘knowledge of practice’ and ‘knowledge in practice’.

In an attempt to support ‘knowledge of practice’ teachers are sometimes provided with ready-prepared lessons plans. These can be helpful but they are unlikely to work exactly as the person writing the plan intended as they have no knowledge of the context in which it will be used.  

This course takes the view that learning to teach involves building a ‘toolkit’ and opening up possibilities for practice. Even a prescribed lesson plan has to be adapted for a particular context, and to do that teachers need strategies that are underpinned by evidence. They need to collaborate, practise and reflect. In the next section you will learn about reflection as a mechanism through which teachers start to develop and consolidate ‘knowledge of practice’ and ‘knowledge in practice’.

2. Reflecting on practice

Teaching can be a lonely activity. Once you are in the classroom, or lecture hall, you are on your own with your learners. Occasionally, you may be observed by a colleague or manager and get some feedback about what you are doing well and how to improve your practice. It is important therefore that teachers learn to evaluate their own practice so that they can improve and develop – and move along the continua you met in Week 2. This means being reflective.

Becoming a reflective teacher involves thinking about what worked well or what did not, in your classroom, and trying to work out why that was the case. It is suggested that you start with the positives: if a new idea or activity worked well try and work out why that was the case, so that you can do it more often. Your evidence will come from the learners’ responses, the work they do, the questions they ask and how they behave.

If something does not work well, it is easy to feel demoralised. But don’t be – you can learn a great deal from activities that did not go quite as planned.

Here are some questions that you could use to help you reflect on your teaching. (PDF)

Did you notice how questions 2, 3 & 5 are all followed by one word: ‘Why?’ and that some of the questions focus on the learners? Noticing how learners are reacting to a lesson is an important part of being reflective. You might also be able to talk to them informally and ask what they found easy or difficult. Alternatively, you could use a strategy similar to that used by Florence in the classroom example below.

Examples from practitioners

Florence teaches mathematics in a secondary school. Her students completed a test and she was disappointed in the results. She realised that she had made assumptions about their understanding which were not correct. She introduced the idea of asking them to annotate their work at the end of each lesson, with a face:

😊 – means I understand this idea
😐 – means I am fairly confident, but need more practice
😢 – I am finding this difficult

When she took the books in, she noted those who were lacking in confidence and finding the work difficult. She talked to some individuals about their work and made time to go back over some of the ideas.

In this non-threatening way, Florence was able to better support her students.

When you are reflecting on a lesson or series of lessons it is important to move on from describing what you have done to analysing why it was successful or not.

Admitting that something did not go as well as you hoped is not a sign of weakness. It can actually be seen as a strength, because it is through being analytical and honest that you will improve as a teacher.

Activity 4.2 Reflecting on teaching

Allow approximately 30 minutes for this activity.

Read these two examples of teachers’ reflections, written after the lesson on their lesson plan.

Example 1. The pair work I tried worked very well, but it was time-consuming.

Example 2. The pair work in which students practised ‘what is this’ and ‘this is a…..’ using objects in the room engaged some learners really well because it was a practical activity. I faced challenges because I forgot to demonstrate how the practical work should be done and some learners did not know what to do. I gave some instructions desk-by-desk, but those I did not get to became restless. I think it would have worked well if I gave clearer instructions and made sure those who find English difficult were not paired together.

Did you notice:

In Example 1 the teacher just describes what they did. This teacher needs to be encouraged to think about why it went well and how to make pair work less time-consuming. 

Example 2 moves away from just describing what has happened in the lesson. The teacher is reflecting on what happened and why. This teacher is thinking more deeply about the lesson and has thought of some ways to improve their practice.

Think back to a teaching session that you taught recently. Use the 7 questions above to note down your reflections in your study notebook.

Now, based on these reflections write down two actions to incorporate in your lesson planning next week.

3. A teachers’ toolkit

Developing skills in being reflective is part of a teachers’ toolkit – the ‘tools’ that a teacher needs in order to develop as an inclusive practitioner. This is represented by the notebook icon in the diagram – writing or talking about reflections will support deep thinking about practice. Teachers also need support from colleagues, the skills and knowledge to make use of locally available materials, knowledge of different teaching approaches, access to training, the relevant syllabuses and textbooks and access to resources which contain ideas and examples of practice. In the next section you will learn more about how to find resources to support teachers in planning inclusive teaching and learning.

Teacher's toolbox

Figure 2  A ‘teachers’ toolkit’

3.1. A teacher’s toolkit: focus on resources

Open educational resources (OERs)

Open educational resources (OERs) are resources which are freely available. They have a special ‘creative commons’ copyright license which allows them to be copied, adapted and republished ( There are six types of license, each with slightly different conditions attached. All of them require you to acknowledge the source of the material.

The authors do not receive any payment; the producer bears the cost of the resources.

For example, this sign means you can use this material as long as you acknowledge its source. If you adapt it and republish it you must share it under the same terms (‘share alike’). They were first defined in 2000 by UNESCO and supported in the Paris Declaration in 2012 and the Ljublijana Action Plan in 2017.

OERs can be printed materials or digital. They can be in the form of pictures, books, documents, videos or audio.

Despite their promise – the availability of OERs has not had the impact expected. This is partly a result of poor internet connectivity, but also the result of attitudes and confusion about OERs and how to find resources that are or might be useful.

Activity 4.3 Understanding OERs

Allow approximately 30 mins for this activity.

Listen to this slidecast about OERs. As you listen, in your study notebook make notes on the opportunities and challenges afforded by OER. (Transcript available here)

Download presentation

Use your notes to write responses to the following questions:

  1. What structures are in place or need to be in place in your institution to support the use of OERs?
  2. How can individuals in your institution be supported to find and use OERs?
  3. Think about the culture in your institution: is the use of OERs encouraged? Does anything need to change?

Add a comment to the Week 4 forum stating one thing you have learnt about OER from this presentation.

4. Going further

The Commonwealth of Learning (COL) has produced a short (three-hour) course about OERs. If you would like to find out more about the different types of open licenses and how to evaluate and adapt OERs, you could try this course yourself:

Understanding Open Educational Resources -

(You will need to register on the website in order to access the content of the course.)

4.1. Resources to support teaching approaches

In Section 3 of this course, you considered the ‘minimum criteria’ for learner-centred education as a tool for analysing teaching. Planning classroom activities that engage learners, promote dialogue and involve all learners, requires practise. In the next activity (Activity 4.4) you will have the opportunity to review some OER which provide guidance in a variety of teaching approaches. Activity 4.5 introduces resources which will help you to apply these approaches in different curriculum subjects. Activity 4.6 introduces resources that specifically support inclusive education.

Activity 4.4 Key Resources

Allow approximately 30 minutes for this activity.

Access the ‘Key Resources’:

  1. Read and make notes on the section ‘Involving all’, pages 4–7 of the document.
  2. Choose two or three other sections to read in detail.
  3. For one of the sections that you chose write a brief review on the Week 4 forum:
    • Name the section
    • Write a sentence to summarise one thing you have learned from this resource
    • In the context of your subject, explain how you could use this idea in a lesson.

I selected ‘pair work’ because it is an easy way to involve all in a large class. I learned some of the different ways of organising pairs. In a maths class I will pair learners who find the work difficult with those who find it easy, so one can help the other.

4.2. Resources to support subject teaching

One of the aspects of a teachers’ knowledge is how to teach a subject. Primary teachers need to know how to teach a range of subjects; secondary school teachers usually focus on one main subject. Being an inclusive teacher involves knowing some strategies to bring the subject alive in the classroom, and strategies for involving all learners. In the next activity, you will explore some OERs to support subject teaching in primary and secondary schools.

Activity 4.5 Subject resources

Allow approximately 1 hour for this activity.

Spend some time reviewing the following resources:

Listen to the short film explaining the TESSA resources.

Make a note of the link and anything that you find that will be useful in your own teaching. Remember, all the resources can be adapted.  

Make a Week 4 forum post highlighting one resource that you would like to use – what it is and why you like it.

If possible, share the resources with your colleagues and plan how to use them to support others.

4.3. Resources to support inclusive education

The TESSA Inclusive Education toolkit highlights seven principles of inclusive education. It provides activities for teachers and teacher-educators to undertake as part of their professional development. It also provides links to relevant TESSA subject resources.

Activity 4.6 Resources to support inclusive education

Allow approximately 30 mins for this activity.

Part 1

Access the TESSA Inclusive Education toolkit and spend some time browsing the resources. Now, consider the following questions:

  1. Which of the seven principles would you consider first in your context?
  2. What opportunities are there in your institution to share these ideas with your colleagues?
  3. How could you create opportunities for collaborative working using the IE Toolkit?
  4. Access the tool for auditing an inclusive teacher’s behaviour: Now reflect on how you might use this tool for yourself, with other teachers, or with student teachers.  

Part 2

Access the GATE materials for inclusive education:

Download and save any of the documents which you think will be useful to you. If possible, share them with a colleague.

5. Bringing it all together

In this course you have considered who might be excluded and ways of thinking about inclusive education. You have examined learner-centred education as a policy response to calls for more inclusive teaching and adapted the ‘minimum criteria’ into a practical tool which you can use to support your active teaching. You have reflected on what active learning and teaching look like in the classroom, and developed a toolkit consisting of resources to support inclusive teaching and now have an understanding the importance of reflection in improving practice. In this final activity of the course before the end-of-course quiz, you will be asked to make a plan of how you will incorporate and implement your learning on this course in your professional role.

At the end of Week 1 you heard Daniel explaining his vision for inclusive teaching and learning. The aim of this course has been to help you understand how that vision might be realised and to highlight the importance of gradual change which brings small improvements: over time, the small changes will become significant.

Activity 4.7 Action planning for inclusive teaching and learning

Allow approximately 1 hour for this activity.

  1. Go back through the notes you have made and file anything you have downloaded so that you can access the information whenever you require.
  2. Go back to the mind map you made at the start and think about the reasons why a student might feel excluded and the things that all teachers can do to support them. Now redraw your mind map and add an extra layer to the outside, highlighting the things all teachers can do to prevent children feeling excluded.
  3. Note down three things that you will do in the coming weeks to develop your practice as an inclusive teacher.
  4. Note down three aspects of your practice that you are particularly keen to develop further.
  5. Make a brief Week 4 forum post in which you explain how this course has affected your view of inclusion and what you will do differently in the future to make your teaching more learner-centred.

6. Summary

This course has encouraged you to think about who might be excluded from learning and why. It has introduced you to learner-centred education as a policy response to international calls for more inclusive education. It encourages you to think about why it is an appropriate response and highlighted the inclusive attitudes that underpin the policy. In Week three the focus was on what inclusive education looks like and this last week has seen the emphasis switch to how the vision set out in the Salamanca Statement can be achieved. There are no ‘quick fixes’ but the argument was made for regular reflection on practice as a ‘tool’ support the development of teachers’ knowledge of practice and knowledge in practice, alongside the use of free, contextualised resources. 

Effective inclusive education undoubtedly benefits all learners. There are some learners, however, who require extra support, and the course Creating an inclusive school will focus on Wave 2 of the Wave model you were introduced to in Week 1 of this course, as well as the progress that can be achieved through collaboration and partnership.

Further resources

Other resources that might be useful to you are listed here. We have included some materials about supporting learners with specific difficulties as well as some about inclusion in general.

  1. Brief overview of ‘what is inclusion’

  2. This news article is about Kenya’s new inclusion policy:

  3. Some Kenya specific case studies-

  4. Article on inclusive ed in Botswana

  5. Specific guidance on teaching students with a visual impairment

  6. A resource from New Zealand on supporting children with physical disabilities:

7. End-of-course quiz

Activity 4.8 End-of-course quiz

Allow approximately 20 minutes for this final activity.

Now take the end-of-course quiz to check your understanding of what you have learned over the last four weeks.

Complete the quiz here


Cochran-Smith, M., & Lytle, S. (1999). Relationships of Knowledge and Practice: Teacher Learning in Communities. Review of Research in Education, 24.

COL (2018) Understanding Open Educational Resources [Online]. Available at (Accessed 9 January 2021).

Khan Academcy website homepage [Online]. Available at (Accessed 9 January 2021).

Moon, B. (2019) Key Resources - A Blueprint and Toolkit for School-Based Teacher Development: Secondary [Online]. Published by COL. Available at (Accessed 9 January 2021).

OpenLearn Create ‘Girls' Access to Education (GATE) Sierra Leone’ [Online]. Available at (Accessed 9 January 2021).

TESSA website homepage [Online]. Available at (Accessed 9 January 2021).

TESS-India website homepage [Online]. Available at (Accessed 9 January 2021).

TESSA- English – All Africa, ‘Auditing an inclusive teacher’s behaviour’ OpenLearn Create [Online]. Available at (Accessed 9 January 2021).

UNESCO (1994) Salamanca Statement and Framework for Action on Special Needs Education [Online]. Available at (Accessed 9 January 2021).