Improving inclusion takes time

April 7, 2015

Part six of a seven-part series

On Sept. 10, 2014, the Alberta Teachers’ Association released the Report of the Blue ­Ribbon Panel on Inclusive Education in ­Alberta Schools.

The report outlines 38 recommendations arranged around seven themes. In this, the sixth instalment of a seven-part series, the ATA News outlines the recommendations that fall within the theme of time.

Time

Time is provided to support implementation.

Recommendation 35 — to school jurisdictions

Provide time, during the school day, for teachers to meet in collaborative teams to develop strategies focused on supporting student learning, particularly the learning of students with exceptional needs.

Teachers in Alberta, as well as teachers in other provinces, are supportive of the broad notions of inclusion, and allowing time to collaborate and problem solve would provide much-needed support. Not having adequate time to plan and implement effective programs for students was mentioned many times in the submissions to the panel, as well as in focus groups.

In the research conducted, only five per cent of teachers indicated that they were satisfied with the time they had during the school day to collaborate with other teachers in order to meet the diverse learning needs of students.

Teachers’ time and collaboration with their colleagues, other professionals, students and parents are beneficial for the provision of equal learning opportunities. Providing time for teachers to work together to find strategies and approaches that work for their students will allow for the kind of synergy necessary to support inclusion. Also, when the need for more teachers in an inclusive system is addressed, this may provide more flexibility and allow time for teachers to collaborate effectively during the school day.

Recommendation 36 — to school jurisdictions

Use streamlined individualized program plan (IPP) templates, and provide release time and support for teachers to create effective program plans and other required documents.

Dealing with the myriad of provincial and jurisdictional paperwork related to students with exceptional needs is very time-consuming. Many school jurisdictions have invested time and money in software that is cumbersome and that requires information duplicated elsewhere in student records. The ministry has developed streamlined IPP templates, based on feedback from teachers, and these documents are more succinct and focused on specific strategies that support students in their daily work. Jurisdictions may be reluctant to make this change, but teachers indicate that the IPP documents need to be more practical, and they are also asking for more support and time to develop thoughtful documents.  ❚

The Report of the Blue Ribbon Panel on Inclusive Education in Alberta Schools is the product of an arm’s-length panel formed in May 2013 due to a myriad of concerns from teachers and administrators. Panel members represented a broad range of roles and perspectives within the education system. Based on face-to-face meetings and in-depth research, the panel concluded that a previously released framework to make schools more inclusive (Alberta Education’s Setting the Direction Framework, published in 2009) had not been effectively implemented.

The panel’s 38 recommendations are arranged around seven themes:

(1) shared vision,
(2) leadership,
(3) research and evidence,
(4) resources,
(5) teacher professional growth,
(6) time and
(7) community engagement.

Read the full report
Read the companion document
Read part one of the ATA News seven-part series
Read part two of the ATA News seven-part series
Read part three of the ATA News seven-part series
Read part four of the ATA News seven-part series
Read part five of the ATA News seven-part series