A primary goal of SET-BC is the successful inclusion of SET-BC students into regular school classrooms, and the British Columbia curriculum. However, the topic of authentic inclusion in K-12 classrooms is a challenging one, with varying opinions, perspectives and successes. Many educators feel that inclusion of students with developmental disabilities simply involves the provision of opportunities for students to socialize with their peers; however, this is just not the case.
Dr. Pat Mirenda (Professor at the University of British Columbia – Department of Special Education) argues that inclusive education should provide students with developmental disabilities opportunities to learn academic content aligned to grade-level goals and objectives, participate in the same instructional routines and activities as other students in their classroom, and be evaluated on these tasks according to academic content and their Individual Education Plan Goals (Mirenda, 2012).
As such, on January 24th, 2012 Dr. Mirenda presented for over 90 British Columbia Educators at Schou Education Center in Burnaby. The focus of her presentation was “Including Students with Developmental Disabilities in the General Education Curriculum.” She discussed the importance of designing units according to the principles of Universal Design for Learning to allow teachers to incorporate curricular goals for ALL students, MOST students, and SOME students in their classrooms. Moreover, she stressed the development of SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time Limited) Individual Education Goals so that each student can be efficiently evaluated on their progress. After these initial discussions, Pat shared inclusive lesson plans across a multitude of subject areas, providing classroom based strategies for enabling students with developmental disabilities to meet their goals. Her strategies ranged along a continuum of no tech, low tech and high tech.
Pat’s presentation was both passionate and practical. The audience members grew more and more fired up throughout the day, with discussions ensuing around how best to initiate this change upon returning to their schools. SET-BC thanks Dr. Mirenda for her willingness to share her expertise and knowledge with both SET-BC consultants and British Columbia school teams!