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ECU Special Education Professor writes about Inclusive Classrooms

(Apr. 29, 1998)   —   The education of public school students with diverse learning needs is the focus of a new book by a member of the East Carolina University education faculty.

Mary W. Schmidt, a special education professor in the School of Education, wrote "Teaching Strategies for Inclusive Classrooms: Schools, Students, Strategies, Success" as a textbook for education students and a reference work for teachers.

Her co-author was Nancy E. Harriman of the University of Southern Maine. The book was published in April by Harcourt Brace and contains a variety of classroom experiences, strategies and photographs contributed by eastern North Carolina school teachers.

Included among the contributors were Alice McArthur, Cindy Watson, and Martha Gore from Pitt County. "

Inclusive schooling" relates to the rights of all students to have equal access to an appropriate education in a supportive learning community. It occurs in schools and classrooms where students with diverse abilities are enabled to attain high levels of achievement within an integrated system of education.

"It is not just a voiced philosophy, but a learning environment where the necessary supportive practices are in place to ensure student success," said Dr. Schmidt. The authors examine the changes needed to implement "responsible" inclusive schooling practices and appropriate teaching methods. They place major emphasis on helping special and general education teachers communicate more effectively about the unique and sometimes misunderstood needs of individual students.

Schmidt said special educators and general classroom teachers often have opposing outlooks about the way they work with their students. The result is that two teachers may think and speak differently about their assessment, instruction and behavior management of the same child.

"We teach special educators and classrooms teachers at the undergraduate and graduate levels and continue to be amazed at how quickly they learn to speak different languages," she said. "In this book, we bridge that (communication) gap by identifying critical issues in the education of all students and, in particular, those with exceptional learning needs. It is our belief that true collaboration and effective inclusive teaching are the result of a common language that develops among general and special educators," Schmidt said.

The book is organized into three sections -- schools, students and strategies for success. The first section introduces the ideas behind "inclusive schooling" and the variables that contribute to the quality of education. The second section looks at student diversity and assessment issues, while the final section provides in-depth information about strategies that teachers report are the most crucial to successful inclusive teaching. Information about the book is available from the publisher at and at .


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