TIES Inclusive Education Roadmap
Step 5: Implement the Inclusive Education System
In Step 5, you will:
- Increase your understanding of initial implementation efforts and the potential pitfalls of this time
- Use implementation drivers to support initial implementation of your IER Action Plan
- Create or leverage your pre-existing system of continuous improvement to support initial implementation of inclusive practices
- Create a robust system of communication with all stakeholders
- Choose and use relevant TIES resources to support initial implementation
Congratulations! The EILT is formed and is developing its leadership role (Step 1), current priorities have been identified using the RISE (Step 2) , the Initiative Inventory has supported links between these priorities and other initiatives (Step 3), and the Inclusive Education Action Plan (Step 4) has been completed. This work is essential to building a sustainable inclusive education system. It is now time to implement your Action Plan. The Initial Implementation phase can last one to two years. Why? Because in most organizations, implementing effective inclusive education systems means changing “the way we have always done things.”
The initial implementation phase of any new initiative or change in practice should be rolled out in a structured way. Determining how to introduce the Action Plan to the entire staff, families, and other invested stakeholders will be an important first step. In addition, designing and utilizing a robust communication system keeps everyone up to date about ongoing successes, struggles, and solutions. As inclusive practices are implemented, some changes will go much more smoothly than were anticipated. You may also be surprised by the emergence of unexpected barriers to implementation. The information in Step 5 supports all system stakeholders during initial implementation of systems change for inclusive education.
The Nature of Initial Implementation
The Initial Implementation phase represents the transfer of the goals and planning of the EILT (a relatively small part of the system) to implementation by a larger part of your system. Administrators, teachers, instructional support staff, related service providers , families and others will be trying out new practices. This is a sensitive time in that, without sufficient support, it is very likely that many practitioners and families may implement the new practices incorrectly or give up on the new inclusive practices entirely and return to using their previous practices. This is a time when the phrases “it isn’t working” or “I don’t have the time to do all of this” are often heard.
Clear expectations regarding outcomes for students and the system, sufficient levels of support, data-based decision-making, and collaborative problem solving help minimize the inevitable stress of systems change. Staff and family “buy in” is another important consideration for any new initiative. Some practitioners and families may not see the need to change their current practices. They may not yet understand the importance of inclusive education for students with significant cognitive disabilities, or not view the education of these students to be part of their job. This is a frequently-seen phenomenon in systems where special education and general education have existed as two separate subsystems, both of which are now involved in systems change. It will be important to address this situation through the creation of expectations regarding the integration of special education service delivery into the general education context.
It is often best to launch any new district-wide or school-wide initiative at the beginning of the school year. The positive energy of a new year can bring excitement to new initiatives. SEAs, LEAs and schools can use the time between completion of the Action Plan and the beginning of a school year to build buy-in, increase capacity of systems and personnel, implement a clear communication plan, and work through the myriad of details that are inevitable in systems change. In addition, you will have the benefit of being able to use time over the summer and right before school starts to engage with practitioners about the rationale and expectations for change and provide them with the professional development necessary to start the year successfully.