One of the most important discussions about inclusive education is that it cannot be a repetitive practice, in which planning is followed rigidly, without variation, for all students. On the contrary, inclusion in the classroom means offering a proposal to the group as a whole, while meeting the needs of each person, in particular the needs of those at risk of exclusion in terms of learning and participation in the classroom.
It is planning that determines what, when and how to teach. A class plan or an instructional sequence may include organizational adjustments in goals, content, strategies, resources and evaluation. We can call them adjustments or flexibilization (the idea of flexibilization is linked to the need to grant greater plasticity or greater flexibility to what you what you want to bend, removing the traditional rigidity). In order to structure the flexibilization, it is necessary to reflect upon pedagogical organization and to avoid that it becomes a parallel, segregated or exclusive plan (which has the power to exclude). The flexibilizations and/or adjustments included in pedagogical practice must serve a single premise: to differentiate the means in order to equalize the rights. Specially the right to participation, to conviviality.
One of the approaches of a Flexible Planning considers three major categories to be scaled by the teacher: complexity, quantity and timeliness. Each one of them, or the intersection of them can adjust the objectives and the content to ensure equal opportunities in the process of teaching and learning. Both the objectives and the content may be prioritized, supplemented or readjusted, as long as they contemplate the issue offered to the group of students. The same principles that guided the organization of pedagogical objectives and content will apply to the verification and validation of learning.
Considering the educational content as learning objects, students construct meaning. The teacher has the role of a mediator between students and knowledge, facilitating the construction process. They should interfere exactly in the activities in which the student still lacks autonomy, offering the necessary help to enable the student to accomplish those activities. It is in this dynamic environment that the teacher selects teaching and support procedures to share, confront and resolve cognitive conflicts.
In order that everyone has access to the curriculum, the teacher can calibrate the complexity. The curriculum is not a different, restricted or selected one. It must differentiate activities or roles in a way that each person finds a meaning, has the opportunity and feels constantly challenged in their learning process. When it is necessary, activities should be organized with different ways of support: individual mediation, number of differentiated tasks, inclusion of resources that are specific to the manifested needs.
The extent of temporality refers to the time the student will take to build skills and acquire knowledge. It also refers to the differentiation of working time, concentration and mobility in different situations of the school routine.
Such approach considers the classroom as a space for the realization of the project that was previously prepared for the various levels of the educational system. But it is mainly a space for construction and reconstruction of knowledge, of the discovery of each other and of themselves. If the classroom is a context for construction, the inclusive classroom requires a rupture from restricting practices limited so that participatory and collaborative alternatives take hold.
The principles of collaborative practice and productive groupings foster the cooperation between the students to solve challenges and build knowledge together. Classes are organized through teaching approaches that encourage the differentiated participation, complement themselves and build a collective knowledge.
The planning for diversity (for the common needs of the group) and for inclusive education (special needs to some students) implies making a careful pedagogical assessment, valuing the potentials and not the limitations, and dynamizing the curriculum. In the differentiated teaching practice, all students face challenges and socialize knowledge with different abilities and possibilities.
These are practices that reconstruct a new meaning of the curriculum, that are aimed at all students and represent an opportunity, a goal for the school to generate transformations not only pedagogical, but in society itself!
Daniela Alonso is an educator, consultant for educational projects, selector of the “Educador Nota 10” Award – Victor Civita Foundation, psychopedagogist, specialized in Inclusive Education.
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