How to Organize Your Classroom to Encourage Inclusion - Stanfield


How to Organize Your Classroom to Encourage Inclusion

As educators, we have an incredible opportunity to shape our students’ outlook on the world. Not only do we have the power to teach them important academic subjects, but we also have the ability to instill values like empathy, compassion, and inclusion. 

However, creating a classroom environment that encourages diversity and fosters a sense of community can be challenging. As you head back to school, you might be wondering how you can organize and design your classroom to make sure everyone feels included. 

That’s why, in this blog post, we will discuss some tips and strategies for organizing your classroom to promote inclusion.

What Are the Benefits of Inclusion in the Classroom?

inclusion in the classroom

Inclusion provides a welcoming environment for all students. Children come to school with a variety of backgrounds, experiences, and abilities, all of which need to be recognized and celebrated. When we create classrooms that are inclusive of individual differences, we create a sense of community that fosters collaboration and positive social relationships. Who doesn’t want that?!

Plus, inclusion helps to develop a range of social skills. When students interact with other students who come from different backgrounds, they learn how to work with a variety of personalities and how to communicate effectively. 

This also helps to shape their understanding of the world in a positive way. If we hope to teach our students how to be empathetic, compassionate, and kind, we have to start by modeling those behaviors in the classroom.

Not just students with disabilities, but all students benefit from an inclusive classroom. By providing accommodations, adaptations, and modifications for those with unique learning needs, all students are able to engage with the material in a way that works for them. 


And when those needs are being met, all students benefit in terms of their academic progress. Inclusion is an opportunity for every student to succeed, not just a select few.

Inclusion prepares students for the real world. Our communities are diverse, and our students need to be prepared to interact with individuals from all walks of life. By creating inclusive classrooms, we are providing students with the tools they need to succeed in a world that is inherently diverse. They will be better prepared for college, the workforce, and life in general.

And let’s be real. Inclusion is the morally right thing to do. We are all equal, and we all deserve to be treated with respect and dignity. 

How Do You Arrange the Classroom to Accommodate All Learners?

inclusion in the classroom

While one of the most important things you can do as an educator is to structure assignments and activities for inclusivity, it’s also important to think about how you’ll arrange the physical space of your classroom to make sure everyone feels welcome.

Here are some tips. 

1. Don’t Be Afraid to Move and Manipulate Classroom Furniture 

One of the most important steps you can take when designing your classroom is to be proactive and not afraid to move and manipulate the furniture. 

Experiment with different configurations until you find the one that works best for your students and your teaching style. 

Your classroom furniture should facilitate a learning environment where students can move and actively engage in the lesson, allowing everybody to feel comfortable and included.

2. Make Sure All Areas of the Room Are Easily Accessed by You and Students 

A well-designed classroom should be easy to maneuver. 

The arrangement should make it easy for students to seamlessly transition from one activity to another and must be physically accessible to all students, regardless of their abilities. Teachers can use visual cues or label areas in easy-to-recognize formats to make navigation easy for children with learning or physical disabilities. 

Allocating different spaces in a classroom such as seating areas, reading corners, and activity centers help students transition easily and feel more comfortable exploring different learning areas in the classroom.

3. Make Tables Available for Small-Group Lessons 

Small group instruction is an effective way to teach students with different levels of understanding or learning pace. Having a designated area for small-group instruction can help focus students, minimize distractions, and create a conducive learning environment. 

You can create this space using a big round table or classroom desks facing each other. Also, it can be helpful to use this space for independent studies or classroom learning centers, such as crafts or building stations.

4. Position Tables So You Can Visually Monitor the Entire Class

In any classroom arrangement, the teacher must have a clear view of all students to ensure classroom management and safety. This arrangement should be considered when setting up tables or student clusters, making sure that students are always within your line of sight. 

Arrange desks where students should face the teacher’s table, allowing for easy monitoring. Round tables or square clusters also work well for having four or six students in a group. 

Nonetheless, the layout that allows for constant access and support is integral to a holistic learning environment.

5. List Classroom Arrangement Needs for Specific Students

When a new student enrolls in your class, the first thing you should do is to identify any special needs and adapt to the situation. Consider the needs of students who are in wheelchairs, those who need extra space for their paraprofessionals, or those who need a quiet area. 

You can rearrange your classroom to accommodate these specific needs, so every student feels comfortable and included. Make sure that all materials and technology are accessible to all students.

6. Seat Students Close, but Not Too Close 

A well-arranged classroom should have a balance between social interaction and individual space. That’s why it’s a good idea to have tables or desks arranged in a circular, semi-circular, or rectangular manner. 

That way, every student can have their own space, but can also be able to interact with each other in group discussions or presentations. Proper seating arrangements will help to minimize distractions and promote collaboration.

7. Create Space for Circle Time, Play, and Lining Up 

Creating an open space for social learning is paramount if you’re working with young children in particular. You can use a rug to demarcate a specific area where students can sit during reading and circle time.

You can even create a reading nook or a play area in the classroom with beanbags and soft seats so that students can relax and unwind. Just make sure that tables and chairs don’t block the walkways to allow free movement around the classroom.

8. Provide Folders, Labels, and Containers to Students 

One of the easiest ways to support inclusion in your classroom is by providing tools that help students stay organized. Folders, labels, and containers can go a long way in helping students manage their materials and ensure they have access to the resources they need.

Whether it’s a designated bin for pencils and markers or a labeled folder for homework assignments, small touches like these can promote independence and reduce anxiety in students who may feel overwhelmed by disorganization.

9. Ask Students Their Thoughts on Classroom Organization 

Giving students the opportunity to provide feedback on classroom organization and how to create an inclusive classroom can help them feel more invested and involved in the learning process. Consider conducting a survey or hosting a group discussion to gather ideas and opinions from your students. 

Depending on your classroom culture and practices, you may choose to implement some of their suggestions and ideas. This reinforces the message that everyone’s input is valuable and creates a sense of shared responsibility among students.

10. Create a Welcoming Bulletin Board

A welcoming bulletin board is a simple but effective way to help your students feel at home in your classroom. You may choose to feature images and stories about different cultures, display student work, or post affirming messages. 

What makes your bulletin board inclusive will depend on your students’ backgrounds and interests; the key is to make sure that everyone feels represented and celebrated.

11. Designate Different Areas for Different Skill Activities

Consider the different activities that take place in your classroom, such as academic work, job skills training, or leisure skills practice. It may be helpful to designate different areas for these activities, which can help students focus and feel more comfortable. 

You might create a quiet reading corner, a table for STEM projects, or a comfortable lounge area for socializing. Experiment with different configurations until you find what works best for your class.

12. Group Students Based on Something Besides Gender or Ability

It is common practice in some classrooms to group students based on gender or ability. While this might seem like a good way to ensure that everyone is working with those who they are comfortable with, it can lead to a division between students. 

A better way to group students is by their interests or strengths. 

For instance, students who enjoy reading can be grouped together to work on a book club project. Students who are good at art can work together on a collaborative art project. This will foster a sense of unity and understanding among your students. 

13. Make Sure Activity and Seating Areas are Predictable 

In a classroom that promotes inclusion, everything should have its place. Activity areas and seating arrangements should be organized in a predictable way to help students feel comfortable and secure. 

Students should know where they are expected to sit and work. It is important to create designated areas for various activities such as reading, group work, and independent work. This helps to maintain order and provide an atmosphere that supports learning.

14. Stock Bookshelves With Diverse Books 

Your classroom library should reflect the diversity of your students. Stock your bookshelves with books that feature diverse characters, cultures and backgrounds. 

Include books that prominently feature LGBTQI+ characters, as well as books about people with disabilities and people of different races and ethnicities. Reading widely about different experiences will help students increase their empathy and understanding of others.

15. Post Routines and Schedules 

Posting routines and schedules in your classroom can be highly beneficial for students who require routine and organization. By providing this information, students can have a sense of structure, which is essential for students with ADHD and autism spectrum disorder. Providing this information upfront can help students prepare for classroom activities and reduce anxiety levels.

16. Dedicate Space to Social Skills Instruction and Role Play Activities 

Socializing is a crucial aspect of learning for all students, and it’s especially beneficial for students with special needs. It’s crucial for students to not only acquire academic knowledge but to also understand social cues and relationships. 

By dedicating a space for social skills instruction and role play activities, students can learn and interact with their peers. This space can be used for debates, group projects, and other collaborative activities.

17. Use Tape to Delineate Different Areas of the Room 

To make the classroom feel less overwhelming, use brightly colored tape to mark off different areas for activities, quiet time, reading, etc. This helps students with learning differences to understand the structure and flow of the classroom.

18. Create Area Dividers of PVC Pipe and Fabric 

Designate spaces with PVC pipe and fabric dividers to provide a cozy nook for different learning styles. You can use different colors and patterns to make each area feel unique, and students can choose the space that best suits them. 

19. Make Sure All Forms You Send Out Have Inclusive Language

When sending home permission slips, consent forms, etc., use language that is inclusive of all families. Avoid gendered language and be mindful of different family structures. This small adjustment makes families feel more welcome and included in the classroom community.

20. Create “Quiet Spaces” in the Room 

Provide space for students who need a quiet environment to work or calm down. This can be as simple as providing a designated area with comfy chairs and noise-canceling headphones. It helps students who struggle with sensory overload to better engage with their work.

You may also want to create specific opportunities for self-regulation

Create a calm corner for kids to recharge when needed, with different activities and tools to self-regulate, such as stress balls, essential oils, or a soft rug.  Allow your students the flexibility they need to regulate their emotions and regain focus. 

21. Spread Out Where Classroom Materials Are Stored 

Organizing your classroom materials is not only great for your stress levels, but it also makes your classroom very inviting and inclusive for students. 

By storing items in labeled containers and placing them in designated areas around the classroom, students can access them much quicker and easier. 

Make sure that items are within easy reach of all students. If you have students with limited mobility, change the height of the storage containers so they can easily reach what’s needed.

22. Rotate Displays of Student Projects 

A great way to encourage a sense of community in the classroom is to showcase your students’ work. Consider designating a display area in the classroom that you change on a regular basis to show off different students’ work. 

Not only will this make students feel valued and appreciated, it also creates a culture of supporting each other. Remember to rotate displays on a regular basis to ensure that each student is celebrated.

23. Color Code

Using color-coding can help you and your students to keep things organized in your classroom, create a sense of calm, and create a welcoming environment for your students. 

You can color-code things like lunchboxes, books, files, and folders. This helps all students, but particularly for those with dyslexia, color-coding can make a significant difference.

24. Get Rid of Clutter 

A cluttered classroom can leave some of your students feeling anxious and overwhelmed. Regularly go through the classroom and get rid of materials and items that are no longer needed or used. 

Have storage baskets or bins to store things, but remember that sometimes “Less is More” when it comes to classroom clutter. 

How Do You Promote Inclusion in the Classroom?

classroom inclusion

As educators, it’s our responsibility to create a classroom that encourages diversity and inclusion. 

By taking the time to create a safe and welcoming environment, we can foster a sense of community among our students and promote respect and understanding.

 Creating an inclusive classroom may not be easy, but with these tips and strategies, we can begin to make a difference. 

Remember, the classroom is a reflection of the outside world – and it’s up to us to create a space where every student feels valued and included.

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