TIES Inclusive Education Roadmap
Selection of Sites and Staff for Inclusive Education
Selection of sites and staff is a critical component of building and sustaining effective educational systems. Ideally, the recruitment of new employees yields candidates who have the beliefs, knowledge, and skills to be strong members of an inclusive team. During initial implementation, the SEA or LEA can support leadership at all levels by using the Introduction to the Inclusive Education Roadmap and participating in a set of introductory webinars. This provides an opportunity for leader(s) to understand the “big picture” of developing inclusive education systems for all students as well as the specific steps to systematic implementation.
It is also important to acknowledge that there will be instances where the context at the local site changed prior to initiating implementation. This may happen when there has been a significant change at the site since its initial selection, such as a change in leadership, unexpected additional new initiatives added to the site or, even in rare cases, a tragedy at the site occurred. Many sites may be able to move forward as planned, while others may not. In these instances, adjusting the timelines for supporting implementation of the IER or increasing the amount of support for the site may decrease the impact of unexpected changes on initial implementation efforts.
Selection of staff is a critical component of building and sustaining effective educational programs. Ideally, the recruitment of new employees yields candidates who have the beliefs, knowledge, and skills to be strong members of an inclusive team. Hiring is a mutual process where the employer is selecting a new employee and the candidate is simultaneously selecting the organization. Recruiting new employees who embrace the beliefs and goals of the organization is an important part of building and sustaining inclusive education systems (National Implementation Research Network [NIRN], n.d.). A first step is to revisit the mission and vision of the organization and ensure that the selection process embraces those goals of equity and inclusivity. Thinking through how key information about the organization will be shared and how important information about the candidate will be gained to see if there is a match is crucial to staff selection.
- Commitment to the equitable inclusive vision and mission
- Commitment to being an active learner who seeks out professional learning opportunities for continuous growth
- Commitment to collaboration to meet the needs of all students
- Teaching experience related to the position, particularly in inclusive schools
- Evidence of effective co-planning and instruction between general educators and special educators for diverse learners, including students with significant cognitive disabilities
- Demonstrates knowledge of the grade-level general education curriculum and/or knowledge of how to provide scaffolded learning support
- Plans, co-plans, and provides effective instruction for all students in an inclusive environment
- Identifies access points for the general education curriculum and adapts materials for learners with significant cognitive disabilities
- Understands and is able to utilize Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS) to engage students in the core general education content and meet individual student needs
- Supports student voice and their cultural and ethnic heritage throughout all learning
- Actively implements the school-wide positive behavioral intervention and instruction system and social-emotional supports for all students
- Meets timelines and provides accurate assessments, progress notes, and other ongoing student records
- Creates an environment that is welcoming for all students and conducive to learning
- Builds strong collaborative relationships with grade-level/content colleagues, specialized support personnel, and paraprofessionals
- Actively participates in Professional Learning Communities (PLC) and becomes adept in using data to inform instructional decisions to assure student growth
- Collaborates with parents and other team members to develop inclusive IEPs that link between the grade-level general education standards and individual student needs
As part of all interview processes at every level of the system, begin by describing the organization in terms of its inclusive and equitable mission, vision, and practices (e.g., our school is enhanced by its student diversity) and the culture of collaboration. Teams could start the interview with a three-minute photographic PowerPoint that captures the inclusive and collaborative work of the organization as a means of capturing “who we are." Share what a typical day looks like for all students, including all students with disabilities. Follow this with what a typical day looks like for all teachers and staff, how collaboration grounds the work, the use of data-based decision making, and that all adults are viewed and supported as continuous learners. Adding these features to each interview takes extra time, but can help identify candidates who are a good match for the system.
Below is an example of a possible interview question protocol that can be adapted for interviewing all teachers. The questions were developed to provide the interview team a way to gauge the candidate’s beliefs, knowledge, and skills related to inclusive education.
- Please briefly tell us about your educational training and experience which you believe qualifies you for this position.
- Tell us about you as a learner. What do you do to grow in your knowledge and skills?
- How do you define equitable inclusive education?
- As we shared, we are an inclusive and equitable school for each and every student. How would you design your instruction to ensure access to the general education curriculum for the diverse needs of the students that you teach? Please give specific examples.
- Describe your experience collaborating with general and special educators in order to plan instruction for students and how you ensured their learning. Please give specific examples.
- Consider this scenario. The general education classroom has a diverse group of learners, including students who are above grade level in reading and a student who is an emergent reader. How would you structure your reading block to provide access to the curriculum while meeting these diverse needs?
- Please discuss your approach to teaching math to students with varying levels of skills.
- What classroom organization methods have you found to be the most effective for building a collaborative and culturally relevant culture for your students?
- Describe how you would intervene if there were interfering behaviors by a student in your classroom.
- How would you collaborate to write an inclusive IEP for a student with a disability to bridge between the general education curriculum and individual student needs? How would the parents be part of the IEP process?
- [ADD] other more specific questions connected to the role and the organization, such as case management, due process questions, knowledge of state grade-level standards, English Learners, etc.
Consider developing a rating scale that focuses on the importance of effective inclusive education systems for all to evaluate a candidate’s responses. For example:
(5) Response is exceptionally thorough and strongly aligns with inclusive education.
(4) Response was more than adequate and aligns with inclusive education.
(3) Response covers essential elements, but shows potential for growth.
(2) Response is barely adequate.
(1) Response was inadequate with little comprehension of inclusive education.
(0) Response was incorrect or inappropriate.
There is no question that hiring candidates with the desired dispositions, knowledge and skills can be very challenging! There will be times when there are no candidates with all of the desired characteristics in the hiring pool. In these cases, it is very important to attract candidates who (1) understand and align with the organization’s belief in the strengths and assets of all students, (2) will be invested in creating equitable inclusive organizations that include students with disabilities, including those with significant cognitive disabilities, even if they do not have direct experience in doing this, and (3) who are continuous learners.