Sign In
Sign In
Register for Free
SecondarySENCo

The learning iceberg – 7 habits of highly inclusive teaching practice

Our Expert
Patrick McGrath

Patrick McGrath

Head of education strategy at the Texthelp Group

Join Patrick at Texthelp’s Festival of Inclusive Education on 2nd November 2022, where he’ll be exploring the learning iceberg in more detail with Dr Susie Nyman. Get your free ticket.

We know that only 10% of an iceberg sits above the waterline. This is the part that is clearly visible. This is also true of our pupils if we think about the percentage of students with individual needs statements.

Any teacher will tell you that this is not reflective of the students who need support. Or those that simply learn differently. We need to stop and think about everything in our classrooms that sits below that waterline.

These seven habits of highly inclusive practice are a good place to start.

1 Remove stigma

We need to think about the stigma we apply when we give a certain subset of learners access to technology. The branding of tools as assistive technology can create barriers for those who don’t want to be labelled.

During the extended periods of remote learning we saw a four-fold rise in the use of assistive technology. That’s because everyone can benefit.

We need to make sure we give all our learners access to the same tools, to use when they need them.

2 Design for inclusion

When design is inclusive, we give people the supports they need for every given circumstance.

If you think about a ramp alongside stairs, this provides accessibility for wheelchair users. That same ramp can also be used by someone with limited mobility, or even someone with a pushchair.

In the classroom, when we design from an inclusive perspective we need to put supports in place that are necessary for some and useful for all.

3 Pick the right tools

Technology in the classroom isn’t just about providing a certain set of tools. We need to provide students with tools that can help them to understand and be understood in different ways.

When thinking about text-to-speech as a tool to support dyslexic students, we are ignoring those under the waterline.

Reading aloud also helps to reduce screen time and with revision. By giving everyone access, all learners can benefit.

We need to provide a wide range of tools to give our students choice, voice and support.

“Let’s not talk about accessible or inclusive practice, let’s just talk about practice”

4 Focus on goals

If we’re all different, how can we start to design learning to support everyone? We need to focus on goals and design the activity in a way that allows all learners to reach this goal.

A standardised approach won’t give everyone the same opportunities. We need to have flexibility to help us plan better for those above and below the waterline.

5 Adopt a framework

You might find it helpful to formalise everything we’ve explored so far by adopting a framework – a structure that gives us help and support to be more inclusive by design, to be goal oriented and to use the right tools.

Universal Design for Learning is a leading framework that focuses on multiple ways of engaging students, representing content and reaching goals through expression.

6 Provide opportunity

We all know the benefits that inclusive practice and tools can provide for learners. They have more flexibility and can be more independent. Learning becomes more self-paced and accessible.

So if you only take away one habit from this list, I would recommend this – provide opportunity.

We can design learning well and select the right tools, but we need to give our students the opportunities to use them.

7 Be accessible, always

To wrap up, I want to talk about accessibility in general terms. We need to put consideration into the documents we create and share with students. Are there headings and alt text for images? Are the links, fonts and colours accessible?

Moving forward, let’s not talk about accessible or inclusive practice, let’s just talk about practice. Accessible practice is simply good practice.


I challenge you to take at least one of these habits to adopt into your everyday practice. Together, we can help everyone understand and be understood.

Join Patrick at Texthelp’s Festival of Inclusive Education on 2nd November 2022, where he’ll be exploring the learning iceberg in more detail with Dr Susie Nyman. Get your free ticket.

DISCOVER MORE

Texthelp

texthelp.com

Visit Website

You might also be interested in...

SecondaryHealth & WellbeingSENCo
Qualifications that will boost your learners’ confidence by Teachwire
ProgressTeaching
PrimarySecondaryAssessmentHealth & WellbeingSENCoSEND
Review – ProgressTeaching by Teachwire