Inclusion Not Working? Discover Schoolwide Solutions
Hey everyone, Catherine, founder of Master IEP Coach® here!
I’m always digging for strategies to help schools embrace inclusion in a practical way. Not just in theory, but weaving it into the entire fabric of the school community.
So my heart did a happy dance when I found the book "Leadership Strategies for Successful Schoolwide Inclusion" by Dennis D. Munk and Thomas L. Dempsey. It’s written by two veteran teachers who have the perfect perspective to help schools build a culture of inclusion.
I’m giving you a quick overview of what’s inside their book and if you find yourself nodding your head “YES” while skimming - it’s time for you to grab your own copy!
Their STAR framework spells out exactly how to make inclusion shine school-wide:
S - Set the Tone. Create a culture where differences are celebrated and everyone takes responsibility for every student's success.
T - Translate Research to Practice. Use evidence-backed strategies to help diverse learners thrive.
A - Arrange Collaboration. Get admins, general education, and special ed teachers teaming up with intentionality. Don't let them live on isolated islands claiming these are my students and those are your students!
R - Reflect on Outcomes. Keep assessing what's working and what's not, with time carved out to fix the strategies that aren’t delivering the expected results.
If you’ve ever heard me speak on stage, you’ve probably heard me say “ Inclusion isn't just a place, it's an experience!” From the moment students step foot on campus to the final bell, they should feel welcome and able to fully participate.
A key mindset shift throughout this book is that all school staff share ownership over educating every student. General Education and Special Education working together, not in separate silos.
The book includes detailed checklists to audit your school's inclusion climate and practices. For instance, does your mission statement ring true for the whole school community? Do classrooms show respect for differences every single day? There’s a checklist to get parents involved too!
Does inclusion feel overwhelming and often like an afterthought with your IEP team? I've been there! But with the right tools, like this book, you can start shifting outcomes step-by-step. When an entire school views inclusion as a shared responsibility rather than “another thing to do”, it becomes possible.
At the end of the day, inclusion is about embracing the core values of equality, high expectations for all, and tapping into the beautiful long-term outcomes a diverse classroom brings.
If you're hungry for ways to take your school's inclusion from meh to WOW, don’t hesitate to reach out! Building a truly inclusive culture takes grit but delivers massive payoff for students, teachers, families, and communities.