The Teacher's Guide to Inclusive Education Book Review

Children sitting at desk drawing with coloured pencils
Cultura/Sigrid Gombert / Getty Images

In a nutshell: I was pretty crazy about the earlier edition of this book, and now it's back with 300 additional strategies and a more thorough description of exactly how schools can carry out an enthusiastic an effective inclusion program for students with special needs. You'll want to pass it immediately to your district's special-ed department, but let them get their own copy — a lot of these strategies can help you teach and motivate your child at home, too.

Why You Might Like It

  • Expanded from earlier edition with 300 more strategies
  • Gives good explanation of how inclusion should be carried out
  • Offers basic primer on what special education is, including classifications
  • Many of the strategies and forms can work at home as well as the classroom
  • Paints an appealing picture of how inclusive strategies can help all students

Why You Might Not

  • We're not really the ones who need to be reading this — teachers and administrators are
  • Knowing what inclusion could look like may make what your child is getting look even worse
  • Some of the strategies seem too detailed to be on an IEP list of accommodations and modifications

Full Review

I'm a skeptic when it comes to inclusion, mostly because I've seen it done so ... not badly, exactly, but with a lack of creative thought and planning that makes it clear the Powers That Be have no enthusiasm for it, just grim determination.

There's enthusiasm aplenty in The Teacher's Guide to Inclusive Education, and it's infectious. It makes me want to believe. And to try out some of these 750 strategies at home. I'm particularly taken with the notion of using a jigsaw puzzle as a way to measure progress toward a behavioral goal — one success on the way = one piece popped in.

There's creativity aplenty here, too.

I also appreciate the fact that Hammeken, who has clearly lived the advice she's giving, takes on the way personnel problems and classroom squabbles between regular-ed and special-ed staff can scuttle an inclusion plan fast. I've seen that in action, too, but if administrators took the advice here on training and grouping and selecting the right people for the job, it wouldn't have to happen.

There are strategies here for specific academic tasks like reading and math, and more general ones like organization, note-taking, and behavior management. The ideas are much more detailed than in the previous edition, making them less handy to pull out and slap on an IEP, but handier to try out yourself or present in usable form to a teacher.

The last 100+ pages of the book are devoted to worksheets and forms; some are specific to school functions and functionaries, but some can easily be adapted to home use. There are forms for assessing a student's happiness in school that might be useful, as well as one for gaining parents' opinions on their child's placement and educational opportunities. If your report would be a bad one, maybe it's time for your district to look at this book, too.