How do you ensure your classroom is inclusive?
We continue our recruitment and interview tips guide for SEN teachers with a post looking at how to answer the question – How do you ensure your classroom is inclusive?There are many challenges that come with teaching diverse learners in an inclusive classroom. As teachers of SEN, it is our responsibility to meet the needs of all students by making accommodations and adaptations to how we present information, assess understanding, and design activities. Research shows that inclusion benefits all students socially and academically (Read more about our discussion on inclusion here). The good news is that many of the strategies that work for mainstream classrooms will still apply for learners with special education needs, we will have to adapt and adjust them for the individual pupils.
Visual Supports for an Inclusive Classroom
An inclusive classroom will always have a range of carefully chosen visual supports. To start, providing visual supports for auditory information is key. Things like visual schedules, choice boards, and communication boards give students a visual reference to support what they are hearing. For students with hearing impairments, seating them at the front of the class and reducing background noise is essential. Students with visual impairments will benefit from clutter-free, consistent environments. Organisation is your greatest strength here.
Transitions and Processing Time
Giving students adequate processing time and preparing them for transitions is also important for inclusive classrooms. Using things like songs, a class mantra, and countdowns to signal an upcoming transition helps students anticipate what is coming next. During activities and lessons, build in extra wait time for students to respond to questions and prompts. Research shows students with slower processing speeds will appreciate the additional time to understand what is being asked of them.
Adapting for Motor Skills Development
Making adaptations for students with different gross and fine motor abilities will ensure that all students can access the curriculum. In P.E. and during classroom activities, modify equipment, change rules, and adjust levels of support to meet students at their level of physical ability. For fine motor activities like writing and crafts, use special grips, paper with raised lines, and provide models of the expected final product. These tools help students with limited fine motor skills still participate fully.
With some creativity and flexibility, the strategies we use in mainstream classrooms to support diverse learners can be adapted for inclusive special education settings. The key is getting to know your students and determining what each child needs to access learning in your classroom. With the right mindset and willingness to make accommodations, every teacher can create an inclusive space for all students.
An example Interview Answer
In my early teaching years, I believed an inclusive classroom meant integrating students with disabilities. However, I soon learned that true inclusion involves intentional planning and adaptation to accommodate all our diverse learners.
For example, when I taught Sally, a visually impaired student, I incorporated auditory cues, detailed image descriptions, and reduced visual clutter. This supported not only Sally but also other students. Similarly, when teaching Mark, an autistic student, I used visual schedules, songs, and countdowns for transitions, and allowed extra processing time. These adjustments significantly improved Mark’s experience and helped other students with processing needs.
I’ve found that using visual and auditory supports, adapted equipment, and modified activities creates an accessible learning space for all students. Embracing an inclusive philosophy has taught my students and me that differences are not deficits but part of being human. By acknowledging our students as multifaceted individuals and applying flexibility, creativity, and compassion, I ensure my classroom is truly inclusive. Ever student deserves not only a seat at the table but a voice in the conversation and a place to learn.