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Three Ways Teachers May Invent Inclusive Classrooms

by Elizabeth Stein, Ed.D., NBCT

Published 4/24/24

Thank you, Mrs. Arslanian!

Hello, colleagues! Each month I highlight one of the frequently asked questions I receive as I make my way around collaborating with colleagues across the states. For more context about this blog site, check out this first post. Then come back and keep reading this one! For those who get the flow and are already familiar—let’s get to it! Also, please leave a comment at the bottom of the post or use the comment section of this site to keep our conversations and learning moving in glorious directions!

Here’s the question I happily get all…the…time. It is a question that drives my very existence each day:

This Month's FAQ: How do we design inclusive classrooms, so that everyone has the opportunity to learn and have a sense of belonging within a welcoming classroom community?

Bottom Line Response: Invent!

That’s really IT! In ONE word—it IS the answer! Keep reading this brief post to find out more.

The Context

Within my circle of friends at the time I was launching my career, circa 1989, I was invited to meet with a friend’s mother who was an educator to get me ready for my long, resilient journey ahead of joining the ranks of passionate educators worldwide.

I remember sitting down with Mrs. Arslanian in her cozy home with her bright, caring eyes that looked straight and deep into my teaching soul.

I was a young, starry eyed, “building castles in the air”  kind of dreamer (and thankfully still am—even after all these decades!).


Because I was so young and new to the field, I was hesitant and optimistically a bit unsure of how I would navigate the process of finally landing my dream position as a classroom special education teacher. But I sure was eager to make this dream a reality.

Like a lightning bolt, Mrs. Arslanian responded to my many “What if” questions with one word, and a big, bright enthusiastic smile, INVENT!  The message I took away that day was to simply trust myself and lean on my current experiences and passion for teaching and learning and keep creating and recreating myself along the way with the power of just ONE word: INVENT!

Inventing Inclusive Classrooms

Decades later, I am still inventing…and even reinventing with Mrs. Arslanian as one of my many inspiring mentors from my past, present, and future. I flow with the meaning of “invent” along my travels in many classrooms and schools.

Here are three ways to invent inclusive classrooms:

1.     Connect with your experiences while being open and flexible to learning about your students’ experiences—and make all of it a part of your classroom culture.

2.     Co-create your classroom environment with your students, so you co-create a welcoming, invitational classroom community—where every learner has the opportunity to feel a sense of belonging—while accessing and meaningfully connecting with the academic learning.

3.     Be open and flexible to…you guessed it! INVENT! Co-create the learning in the moments with your students to ensure they are perceiving and performing in ways that provide them to feel safe, connected, and ready to learn. That means if you need to shake up your lesson mid-stream—so be it!

Although I was never a student in Mrs. Arslanian’s actual classroom, her cozy home and willingness to speak with me for a glorious hour provided a lifelong learning experience for me—with one simple word—that continues to be a part of my very essence as an educator.

Thank you, Mrs. Arslanian (January 10, 1942~April 16, 2024).


So…are YOU ready to INVENT? Please add your thoughts and takeaways.

Let’s talk about it! Share a comment, question, or connection right here in the comments section.

You may also reach out to me by accessing the Contact page of this website. Let's INVENT together!



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