An inclusive classroom environment benefits all students involved, a point Entrepreneurship Preparatory School intervention specialist Anshawn Ivery made in a recent interview with The Mobility Resource. Whether students who ride to school in handicap vans, scholars with learning disabilities, or “normal” schoolchildren, Ivery notes inclusive educational atmospheres “helps students as people.” Below Ivery gives three tips for creating a successful welcoming classroom environment.
1. Know Latest Educational Trends
“Education is always revolving, something is always coming up that’s new, that’s going to change I think the culture of how we educate students in the 21st century,” according to Ivery. He goes on specifically mentioning special education. “I know especially in special ed things are changing on the daily. We get updates from the U.S. Department of Education, Ohio Department of Education literally almost daily about ‘this is something new that we’re doing, this is something new that’s changing.’”
Comprehending current educational trends enables the teacher to best understand how to incorporate these new strategies into his classroom. This endeavor entails Ivery’s second intervention strategy.
2. Learn About Your Students
Take the time to learn about your students. When asked about misconceptions surrounding learning disabilities Ivery stated, “I think one of the biggest misconceptions is the fact that all of the students are the same.” He reemphasized his point repeatedly during our discussion, saying “Students who are special needs, whether physically, mentally, socially, whatever, they all still require different things.” Plus he notes “I think that’s the whole purpose of some of the laws that are intact like IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) and things, is every one of them has the word ‘individual’ in it.”
Two steps educators can take to know each student individually include looking over their pupils’ IEPs (Individual Education Plans) and sitting down to talk one-on-one. Beyond identifying mandated accommodations, IEPs offer insights on a student from multiple perspectives. “I know when I look at IEPs I’m looking at it from the aspect of that previous teacher who had that student and then I’m also looking at the PTR from a psychologist who had that student” says Ivery.
The one-on-one discussion proves even more important than reading IEPs. “Sit down and talk to that student. Have that meaningful conversation.” Mindset wise Ivery suggests approaching the meeting thinking, “I want to know you as a person first. Then I want to know you as a learner.”
Ivery advises asking questions such as “How do you learn best?”, “What do you need from me to be successful?”, and “What are your expectations of the class, of me, and what do you hope to get out of it?” Considering everyone learns differently, even mainstream learners, Ivery recommends engaging in this dialogue with every student. Don’t just sit down with students who come to school in handicaps vans or get diagnosed with learning disabilities.
3. Be Passionate About What You Do
A teacher’s genuine passion towards educating significantly affects both herself and her students. “If anything I’d put that (being passionate about what you do) as my number one, my top thing, because students can see if you’re there for a paycheck.” Ivery quickly adds, “Which I don’t know why anyone would do this for a paycheck.”
Anshawn Ivery explains how keeping your passion vibrant can become a challenge. “Education as a whole for one is labor intensive. There’s a lot of work that goes into it beyond that 7:30-4:45 work time. There’s a lot of extra stuff you have to do and it wears on you.” He acknowledges summer break as a great opportunity for educators to refuel and stay energize about teaching.
Summer break and other breaks throughout the academic year keeps Ivery fresh as he enthusiastically states, “I’m excited every day despite whatever else is going on, whatever the school culture might be. I’m still passionate about seeing my students learn.”
Anshawn Ivery works as an intervention specialist at Entrepreneurship Preparatory School. Additionally Ivery founded Anshawn Speak’s, where he does leadership coaching. To contact Ivery visit www.facebook.com/anshawn.m.ivery or email anshawni(at)yahoo.com.