• Theme: Organising collaborative professional learning
  • Media:Answers to typical questions

Clear goals for inclusive teaching and learning?

“Inclusive teaching builds upon a teacher's basic instinct to ensure all voices are heard and that all learners have a chance to participate fully in the learning process, by digging a little deeper into why participation imbalances exist. To develop this complex climate, teachers and other educational professionals must practice a mixture of intrapersonal and interpersonal awareness, regular curriculum review, and knowledge of inclusive practices ”. 

Read more:

  • Salazar, M., Norton, A., & Tuitt , F. (2009). Weaving promising practices for inclusive excellence into the higher education classroom. In LB Nilson and JE Miller (Eds.) To improve the academy. (pp. 208-226). Jossey-Bass.

Clear goals

Teachers in inclusive schools have the ability related to support all learners. They need to implement in practice the aim of transforming the learning capacity of their learners. Supporting all learners has to be guided by a vision that each student is able to learn, to develop talents and abilities that are relevant for adult life. It is about transforming learning itself to be prepared for a future where the ability to learn and adapt to changing conditions will be most important. In order to ensure that all children and youth are able to learn at the highest level possible, the objective here is to create an inclusive and flexible curriculum. The prior knowledge and experience of all children and youth need to be taken into account when enacting the curriculum. The curriculum needs to be matched to the interests of the learners in order to engage them. To achieve this, teachers have to develop and apply strategies that aim at enhancing the learning experience. They have to be able:

  • to facilitate learning through developing teaching materials and using assessment strategies that are suited to the situation of each student;
  • to develop learning plans that reflect the path of students through the curriculum;
  • to implement  flexible and inclusive curriculum into practice;
  • to create real opportunities to learn for all students;
  • to create positive learning environments in the classroom and beyond;
  • to use available resources, including contributions from parents and the community.

For these purposes, teachers have to use tools, methods, and strategies that help understand, respect and support each child as a person and as a holder of rights.

Intrapersonal awareness

Inclusive teachers bring with them the attitudes, values, skills and knowledge, competencies, and agency to create enabling social and physical environment together with others. Teachers in schools wanting to become inclusive practitioners have the ability to engage in personal professional development, but more is needed to be involved in practices that aim at developing teachers’ professionalism. In order to become competent, inclusive professionals, the staff of a school need to create a community, where experiences are shared and used for peer learning, where people feel well and become more motivated, and where the collective agency can be developed to bring the school forward.

 For this purpose it is necessary:

  • to provide strong leadership that is able to guide the process of professional development  and to initiate necessary organizational changes;
  • to facilitate learning in teams and individuals;
  • to develop an understanding of the school as an entity or system, which will only change through a change in their own practice;
  • to develop the understanding that schools are able to change and evolve.

To achieve this, it is necessary to create a positive and accepting climate, supporting each other in resolving conflicts and reducing tensions.   

Interpersonal awareness

The realization of a community of teachers requires a school environment where everyone feels valued and accepted. Teachers are also seen as learners at every stage of their professional development  If practitioners are to become inclusive practitioners in a team of professionals, they will need an environment that supports their efforts toward becoming more professional. An atmosphere of inclusion needs to be developed where mistakes are seen as opportunities to learn rather than a lack of professionalism. At the same time, achievements are celebrated as a success of individuals and the group. The school needs to become a place of trust and respect, where students and teachers actively collaborate to promote learning and participation. True learning is not possible without mutual engagement, social interaction, and communication. To promote mutual engagement, inclusive practitioners have to invest in building trust and respect for each other.

References and additional information:

  • Booth, T and Ainscow, M. (2002). Index for Inclusion: developing learning and participation in schools. Center for Studies on Inclusive Education.
  • European Agency for Development in Special Needs Education (2012). Teacher Education for Inclusion. Profile of Inclusive Teachers. Odense: European Agency for Development in Special Needs Education.
  • Hollenweger, J., Pantić, N., & Florian, L. (2015). Tool to upgrade teacher education practices for inclusive education. Brussels, Strasbourg: EU, Council of Europe. Retrieved from: https://www.coe.int/en/web/learning-resources/-/tool-to-upgrade-teacher-education-practices-for-inclusive-education.
  • UNESCO. (2020). Inclusion and education: all means all. Global Educational Report.

Mirror: how to explore needs, make choices for the professional development programme and involve the whole team?

Before starting a professional development programme (PDP), it is necessary to explore what it could mean for you and your school. To this end, you usually plan a consultation or intake meeting with your management and other relevant stakeholders, e.g. one or more interested teachers, colleagues from your care team, possibly a coordinator, mentor, policy supporter, etc.

The following guiding questions can start the conversation about this.


  • To what extent do the objectives of the professional development program match the needs of our school and team?
  • Do we want to commit to creating inclusive learning environments, valuing a diversity and collaborating interprofessionally? In what ways?
  • For whom would it be important to work on these goals?


  • In what ways are we already working on inclusive learning environments?
  • What actions, measures and/or reasonable adjustments are we already taking to create inclusive learning environments?
  • What are the different steps we are already taking or took? How exactly do we approach it?
  • How does our school support teachers in doing so?
  • What examples or situations illustrate this? Is there anything we are proud of? Is there anything that we might want to deepen, extend,...?


  • What is our pedagogical policy or care policy, reflecting our vision and actions?
  • What does our school vision say about diversity and/or inclusion?
  • What is our policy in dealing with diversity and inclusion?
  • How does this policy translate to the classroom floor? What examples or situations illustrate this? Is there anything we value in this? Is there anything that we might want to deepen, expand,...?


  • How does our team work together to meet the needs of all pupils?
  • Specifically, how does collaboration between teachers take place?
  • What promotes and what sometimes hinders that cooperation? How does our team experience this?
  • What examples or situations illustrate this? Is there anything that teachers, part of our team or our whole school team strongly tackle together? [iv3] Is there anything we might want to deepen, expand,...?

Professional development:

  • How is professionalisation on inclusion, diversity and/or collaboration addressed?
  • What professionalisation needs does our team experience in terms of inclusion, diversity and/or collaboration? What competences are we already strongly deploying? Is there anything we might want to deepen, expand,...?
  • What professionalisation opportunities do we see to work on this?
  • How do we organise our pedagogical study days and staff meetings?  
  • How do we exchange expertise and experiences on classroom practices? How do we share what we learn during in-service training and other forms of professionalisation? How do we broaden and anchor what we learn sustainably?
  • How do we look at collaborative learning in a core team and in our wider school team?
  • How do we look at guiding, supporting and coaching this journey? Who might we turn to as an internal or external coach to facilitate this learning process?

Based on these reflections, you decide on the approach of your professional development programme. These guiding questions help you weigh up the extent to which these choices match your own professional learning needs.

  • To what extent does this professional development programme appeal to us? What do we think about it? To what extent does the pathway fit our needs?
  • What do we want to focus on (arrive at sharp goals from our reality, learn to deploy resources and actions and/or broaden and anchor them)? What do we want to tackle or possibly adapt?
  • How much time do we want to set aside for this? How many meetings can we schedule? How do we spread them out in time, over one or more school years? How do we make it feasible?
  • Do we want to create a professional learning community for it or embed the process in an existing working group, subteam, in staff meetings and/or pedagogical study days?
  • How do we motivate colleagues to participate? Is there any compensation possible for their efforts, e.g. by scheduling and/or temporarily releasing them from other intensive processes, projects, engagements...?
  • Who do we ask to guide and support this learning process as internal or external coach?

After the (management) team decides to start a professional development programme, it is necessary to inform and involve all teachers in the school. This is best done about

  • the objectives in terms of inclusion, diversity and cooperation,
  • the focus of the pathway,
  • the way the pathway encourages joint reflection and action and
  • the guidance, support and coaching approach provided with it.

Above all, transparent communication is needed about the trajectory's coherence with the school's policy. For example, you can answer the following guiding questions in this regard.

  • Why does our school want to embark on this?
  • How does this trajectory fit with our school's vision, policies and actions?
  • Who can participate in what way? Based on what criteria, if any, will this be decided and by when?
  • How do we want to honour this extra effort to grow together towards inclusion?

Once there is clarity on this, you can think together about the needs your colleagues experience in this respect. In this way, all colleagues can take ownership of this professional development pathway and you will arrive at a shared responsibility to realise the goals.