Ukraine-U.S. co-operation: pursuing inclusive education

11 березня 2020
Sergio Dereza
Co-teaching is an evidence-based teaching strategy practiced in the US when two adults (general education, special education teachers, teaching assistants or other educators) jointly co-plan, co-teach and co-evaluate the progress of students helping ALL to achieve and succeed. The method lets students and teachers interact effectively and foster the competencies required in adulthood.

«Робіть свої кроки, прокладайте власні стежки, не бійтеся помилок, вчіться того, що потрібно вам і вашому майбутньому вже зараз» - Nolan Patrek

Over half a thousand of participants in Ivano-Frankivsk, Vygoda and Khmelnytskiy attended educational events aimed at pursuing inclusive education in Ukraine. The late February seminars and workshops for students, university, school and preschool teachers, teaching assistants, special educators, administrators and parents were held as the international project Without Borders: Sustaining and Developing Inclusive Education Learning  Community, supported by the Public Affairs Section of the U.S. Embassy is underway.

Nolan Patrek, a special education teacher from Minnesota, USA along with Ukrainian colleagues conducted workshops on Inclusive Strategies and Practice and CO-Teaching Strategies for Inclusion.

The participants of the workshops received detailed instructions on the methods and strategies given the opportunity to model and practice them. US and Ukrainian co-teachers provided and secured the on-going support and 2-way feedback. Three stages of co-teaching, think-pair-share and gallery walk activities, station, alternative, parallel and supplementary techniques of teaching combined with defining and discussing philosophy of teaching – the participants received intensive training and immersion into meaningful activities. Being able to practice the strategies, ask questions, share and exchange ideas has been very resourceful for anyone who understands that inclusive education should be implemented taking into account the best international and domestic practices.

Steps in Inclusive Spaces 3.0, a two-day seminar was held at Ivano-Frankivsk College, Precarpathian national university. The event featured the involvement of motivated college students, who presented their training sessions in modeling strategies of multi-sensory approach for teaching children with special educational needs: color-therapy techniques, mnemonics in speech development, kinesiology, bio-energoplasty, storytelling and art technologies. The next steps of the project trainees will be to conduct training sessions among their peers in schools and communities; and to present the results at Steps in Inclusive Spaces 4.0 conference.

Nolan Patrek also conducted a workshop for in-service teachers, specialists and parents on promising inclusive education practices as the part of development and implementation of an inclusive education teacher training curriculum.

Vyhoda Special School of Ivano-Frankivsk Regional Council held Stage 4 of practical discussions on the synergy of special and inclusive education for 156 school administrators, scholars, staff of inclusive-resource centers, teaching assistants, tutors and teachers from Precarpathian, Transcarpathian, Chernivtsi and Lviv regions. Among the topics of the seminar were: philosophy of inclusive and special education, co-teaching as a method of working with ALL students in an inclusive environment, teaching students with visual disabilities and ergotherapy.

Khmelnytskiy held the III International Scientific and Practical Forum on Inclusive Education, conference and seminars on co-teaching strategies in inclusive classes and new technologies and modern educational tools for working with children with special educational needs for teachers of the city and the region. The two-way feedback between the US expert,  students and educators facilitated understanding of global and local inclusive learning trends.

Without Borders: Sustaining and Developing Inclusive Education Community project events were organized by USG Exchange Alumni small grants program members, their schools and colleges, Institute on Community Integration, University of Minnesota, U.S. Embassy and Step into Life NGO.

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