October Blog Topic – We’re All in This Together: Collaboration and Inclusion

By Rinyka Allison, PhD

Two nursery workers play with kids in colorful nursery

Historically, the beliefs and attitudes in regards to inclusive education and collaboration have varied, as many special education teachers may perceive themselves as glorified secretaries and babysitters in the general education classroom setting.

Conversely, there are general educators who feel ill-equipped to educate children who have multiple accommodations and modifications and are fearful of the legal ramifications should they fail to meet the needs of a student’s Individualized Education Plan (IEP).

With the implementation of policies such as The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and No Child Left Behind (NCLB), educators have embraced the phenomenon known as inclusive education. In inclusion classrooms, general and special education teachers work collaboratively to provide all students, including those with disabilities, appropriate and relevant general education curriculum.

As a special educator for 11 years, I attended additional trainings and workshops in the areas of team building, IEP development and collaborative planning. These assisted me greatly as I collaborated with my general education colleagues in inclusion settings.

While I had to be creative and work very hard to differentiate my instruction, I had the support of an instructional coach, my district special education coordinator, my grade-level chair and my building administrator to coach and mentor me.

By providing educators with these types of resources, coaches and mentors, perhaps we can dispel the negative attitudes and beliefs related to inclusive education.

Finally, I ask: What type of educator are you?

  1. Are you an Uno Educator? This type of educator is looking for the students who make them look great in front of administrators and can pass a high stakes test. This type of educator also disregards students who do not meet their own personal criteria based upon race or socioeconomic status.
  2. Are you a Family Feud Educator? This type of educator encourages all students and is accepting of families’ and students’ imperfections and academic deficits. This educator works collaboratively with all stakeholders to ensure the academic success of all students. This educator does not look for fame or accolades from administrators, but rather a hug or a fist pound from a struggling student who finally has an a-ha moment.

I encourage you to strive to be the type of educator who cares for all of your students, regardless of their abilities and pulls in all types of resources to provide the most effective, appropriate and relevant instruction.

Interested in becoming an educator? Contact Grand Canyon University today for more information.

More about Rinyka:

Rinyka Allison, PhD, is an assistant professor in the College of Education at Norfolk State University in Norfolk, VA. Dr. Allison also serves as a content expert and clinical supervisor of pre-service educators in the College of Doctoral Studies and the College of Education at Grand Canyon University. Dr. Allison’s areas of research interest include inclusive education, military-connected children with disabilities, teacher evaluation methods and curriculum development. Dr. Allison received her post-doctorate in assessment and accountability and her doctorate in special education from Walden University, her master’s degree in special education from the University of Phoenix and her bachelor’s degree in social work from Austin Peay State University. Dr. Allison has been a champion and advocates for children and adults with disabilities since 1994.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.