Staff Development

The Inclusive Classroom


CMA has identified researched-based best practices for creating an Inclusive Classroom.

A practitioner who is designing inclusive classroom programming is considerate of the various learning styles of their students, creates a space that supports independent self-regulating skills and prepares to scaffold instruction. At the heart of all inclusive initiatives is socialization.

Use the resources below to learn how to create an Inclusive Classroom and how to set up an Ideal Studio.

The Inclusive Classroom

Watch the Video: “The Inclusive Classroom,” narrated by Jennifer Candiano, Museum Accessibility Consultant, which highlights tools to consider when creating an Inclusive Classroom.

Tools for An Inclusive Classroom

  1. Positive Behavior Support: Create a classroom environment that inspires positive action and creative-social behavior, by focusing on the efforts students make that are indicative of positive behaviors to support towards goals. Develop a Classroom Management Plan for staff (or all participating adults) in order to provide a consistent strategy for guiding student or visitor behavior.
  2. Clear and Positive Rules: Set expectations in a clear, positive, and visual way. Work with students to identify good habits of mind and the behaviors that promote them. Allow students the space to make mistakes and self-regulate.
  3. Multi-sensory Learning and Instruction: Curate materials with multi-sensory layers and inclusive of various learning styles, so that students have choices in techniques and materials for creative problem-solving. Provide instruction that is Universally Designed for Learning provides all students pathways to instruction, and scaffold directives with Adaptive Design elements, as integrated choices for students that require additional support.
  4. Classroom Setup: Design a learning space that invites collaboration and independence. Spaces that are accessible are mindful of barriers that prevent students from both physical and psychological access to participate in learning.
  5. Create a Visual Schedule: 5 Components of a Schedule:
    1. Introductory activities provide an opportunity for participants to warm up creatively and grounds attention.
    2. Greeting routines support social-emotional goals and provides baseline assessment.
    3. Visual Vocabulary is a flexible tool which introduces new vocabulary and concepts to be explored throughout instruction. This tool provides information for various way of looking at art and can be in more than one language.
    4. Art Making Activity should allow students to creatively problem-solve while exploring various ways of making art and choices of materials and tools. Instruction should be broken down into 3 clear and achievable step for students.
    5. Share Routines also support social-emotional skills, providing a chance to process concepts explored through their own work. This tool allows educators with an alternative assessment of art literacy gained through the Visual Vocabulary. Share routines also support social-emotional goals through reflection and group processing.

The Ideal Studio

Watch the Video: “The Ideal Studio,” featuring Zahra Ahmed, former CMA School Programs Manager, for tips for transforming any room into a studio.

Tips for Setting Up an Ideal Studio

  1. Table setup can help focus students by ensuring that the instructor is visible to all participants and they can see each other and the schedule/rules.
  2. Leading from the front of the classroom allows you to assess and support accessibility needs of all student (i.e. some students benefit from watching your expressions or gestures). Co-facilitators are able to improve communication when they assign posts for leading from the front/back of the class.
  3. Adjustable furniture provides accessibility to the various ages/heights of student, as well as accommodates for the inclusion of wheelchairs. Catching the gaze of your students may require you to bend or kneel in front of the table. Some students with disabilities are unable to look up or make eye contact while working.
  4. Inclusion of wheelchairs ideally provides a space at the table with peers and allows for maximum independent mobility.
  5. Butcher paper can help transform a classroom into a studio and invites creative exploration of materials.
  6. Visual supports provide a Universally Designed Learning experience for the group and can also be a way to scaffold instruction for individualized support. The ideal studio is designed for an easy transition toward Adaptive Design.

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