Focusing on inclusivity and accessibility in the classroom is vitally important when it comes to teaching art. But how exactly can you achieve that? Read on below to find out…
If you’re teaching art, one of your biggest priorities will be to foster an inclusive learning environment. The benefits to teaching art in an inclusive, accessible manner are truly endless, allowing all your students to express themselves. It also encourages students to know they are valued and well represented in their learning, ultimately helping them to thrive and reach their full potential.
But, as you may already be aware, achieving comprehensive inclusivity in a classroom environment isn’t always straightforward. There may be certain situations where you need to carefully plan out what steps you want to take, perhaps even with the assistance of an education solicitor.
In this post, we’ll be covering all the steps you need to take to teach art at schools inclusively and accessibly. This way, you can be sure that all of your current, and future, students are effectively represented.
Why is Inclusivity and Accessibility in the Classroom Important?
It’s essential for all teachers, whether they teach art or any other subject, to create a classroom that’s as inclusive and accessible as possible. That’s because not only will every student feel as though they’re being respected and represented, but it will also help to foster positive attitudes among the collective group.
Those attitudes will transfer into the way students learn, work together, and reflect upon the work they’ve produced. They’ll feel safe and free to express themselves in their work, which will allow them to become a well-rounded artist – and person in general!
6 Tips for Teaching Art Inclusively and Accessibly
1. Carefully Assess What Short Term Changes Need to be Made
When you’re looking to create an inclusive and accessible environment for teaching art, it’s always best to start by assessing what needs to be addressed immediately. If, for example, you’re taking over a new class, you should take the time to understand each student. By pinpointing what sort of support each person is going to need during lessons, you can make a plan.
Of course, it’s not always easy to make an immediate judgement over what sort of inclusivity and accessibility changes you need to make. That said, this is a good place to start before you go on to make more comprehensive and, ultimately, long-term changes in the classroom.
2. Open Up a Dialogue
There’s only so much you can do without opening up an effective dialogue with your students. Sometimes, the solution may be clear to see, such as if you have a partially sighted person in your art class, but that’s not always going to be the case.
For example, you may have students that have a hidden disability, or struggle with something like anxiety, which can make it difficult to cater for their needs. That’s why you should open up a dialogue, both on a group and one-to-one basis. This way, every student feels as though they’re well represented and are able to speak to you if they have any specific concerns.
Some conversations may be difficult, and occasionally uncomfortable, but it’s important that you hold them.
3. Have Plans for Future Students
If you’ve created an inclusive, accessible classroom for your current students, then that’s ideal. But you’re work won’t be finished there! That’s not unless you’ve made plans for future students who have their own unique set of circumstances which you need to take into consideration.
It’s not going to be possible to have a carefully detailed plan for every single possible scenario. But, if you cover some essential ground (for example, what you would need to do if you had a student who struggles to speak fluent English), then you’ll be set.
4. Establish Clear Ground Rules for Your Class
As a teacher, you’ll have a responsibility for how your class approaches inclusivity and accessibility, which means you should set some clear ground rules as early as possible. When it’s unclear what certain rules are, or how students are expected to act, this is likely to lead to a disruptive environment that leaves certain individuals feeling isolated.
We don’t want this at all. So, one way of achieving this would be to have visual reminders set up around the classroom which remind all of your students what is expected of them. You also need to be clear about what they can expect from you when they’re learning art.
5. Provide Access to Appropriate Support Networks
It’s important to provide your students with access to appropriate support networks. These support networks may be in the school, or they may be an external third-party.
So, if you don’t think you have the required expertise or resources to effectively handle a specific inclusivity or accessibility issue, find them. Then, you can refer students to the right people.
6. Consider an Inclusivity Course
If you’re stuck as to how you can encourage inclusivity and accessibility in your art classroom, then it’s well worth investing some time into an inclusivity course.
There are plenty of free online courses you can attend which will provide you with practical solutions for making your lessons as inclusive as possible.
Are You Looking to Teach Art at Schools Inclusively and Accessibly?
In this post, we’ve taken a look at why promoting inclusivity and accessibility when teaching art is so important and how you can achieve it in your own art classroom.
That’s not to say that it’s always going to be an easy task – there can be a number of different factors which can complicate the situation! But if you keep these pointers in mind, you have most bases covered.
Have you got any further tips for other art teachers with regards to promoting inclusivity and accessibility? If so, feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments below!