7.2 Forms of support for teachers

Adopting a different way of teaching is not an easy task. It is important that teachers identify support structure to assist them so that they really feel at ease to move towards a more inclusive way of teaching.

a. Resources for professional development

There are different resources that help teachers to develop their professional competences and bring support that is tailored, such as:

  • TESSA Resources (http://www.tessafrica.net [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] )
  • Understanding and responding to children’s needs in inclusive classrooms (UNESCO, 2001)
  • The collection of booklets published by UNESCO (2015), Embracing Diversity: Toolkit for Creating Inclusive Learning-Friendly Environments
  • Teaching children with disabilities in inclusive settings (UNESCO, 2014).

Presently there are very few MOOC (Massive Open Online Courses) on inclusive education in English, but things are changing rapidly, and we encourage you to continue searching online for developments in this area.

b.The role of colleagues from school and other schools

Teachers working alone can feel very isolated. Working in a team or a community of practice with other teachers will provide support.

Colleagues in the teachers’ own establishment can be one of the most important forms of support. Learning together, overcoming challenges, and sharing and pooling ideas allows them to help each other in more challenging moments.

Activity 36: Real allies teachers can rely on

This activity will help teachers to identify some strategies to help each other in the school community.

  • Read in this toolkit the three case studies about Mrs Dalok’s School Board Meeting: Case study 3 and Case study 4 in the chapter ‘A classroom for all in a school for all’ and Case study 12.
  • How do the six teachers help each other?
  • What type of support did they identify for themselves to help them meet the different challenges that might arise from having new pupils with disabilities?
  • Add other forms of support that you think would be useful within a school.

You will have noticed that Mrs Dalok and her colleagues have in effect formed a network of support and expertise within the school: they share ideas on everything that relates to the inclusion of children with disabilities. Be it for physical accessibility to different buildings or access to learning, they advise each other. They also share ideas on teaching materials. They agree to develop new competencies together by working together on the resources recommended by the headteacher. Thus, they form a community of practice.

You will also have noticed that they have identified a possible network of support and expertise by linking with other schools, in particular by asking for the advice of teachers from nearby specialised schools.

c.  The community as a source of support

Networking outside the school does not limit itself to working with other schools. There are, in the wider community, organisations that are competent in the field of inclusion, for example, some non-governmental organisations (NGOs) that work in the field of inclusion and support learning.

It would be useful, and even advisable, for schools to work in close collaboration with health services, the police and any other structure that may bring some sort of support or information on alternative forms of support. Another idea is to identify key persons among parents or the community.

d.Another person in the class

In Case study 16, Sani is a community member who came and helped his younger brother Lélé. One can think of parents coming to help the teacher in class. It is crucial to prepare the role of these “‘other persons in the classroom’ with the greatest care. Sani did say that ‘the teacher tells him exactly what he should do and what he wants him to do with his brother’. This is very important for the child receiving the support: if the messages and the methods used by ‘the other person’ are in contradiction with what the teacher normally does, this will cause confusion in the mind of the child, who, instead of progressing, might regress because of the confusion caused. This implies that the teacher has to prepare the ‘support visitor’ so that his contributions are in line with the normal class work and methods, and aid to the child’s progression.

When there are several adults in class, it often causes pupils to be unsure of who is responsible for the class and some may take the opportunity to misbehave. Therefore it is the teacher’s responsibility to explain the role of each person and to give the appropriate terms of reference to all.

If they choose to invite members from the community into the classroom, whether or not there are children with disabilities in the class, the teachers could invite people with disabilities. These would be effective role models for children with disabilities present in the classroom, and allow all children to revise some preconceived ideas about people with disabilities not being able to play an important role in society.

7.1 Support for pupils.

8. Managing and including the opinion of the community