Inclusive teacher strategies

The following evidence-based strategies aim to provide teachers with an overview of inclusive teaching practices to support inclusion of students with a diverse range of abilities and strengths. Many of these strategies are relevant for all students, while others will be relevant to some students.

How might you provide routine and structure?

Create a consistent routine
Make the structure of each day similar but change tasks within the structure to keep the day interesting. Prepare students for changes in routine by letting them know when a change is coming up, and including visual supports (such as social stories) or other individually determined supports (such as pairing with a friend) where relevant. 
Provide a visual schedule
Visual cues (such as schedules or cue cards) can let students know what is coming up, and how they should move from one activity to another. Access our class schedule.
Prepare students for an upcoming transition

Students who find moving from one activity to another challenging will be better prepared if they are aware it is coming up. Provide reminders about upcoming transitions, such as visual supports, countdown timers or regular reminders.

How might you provide a safe space (physically and emotionally)?

Provide a sensitive environment
Provide an environment that is sensitive to the needs of students who have experienced trauma or adverse childhood experiences. 
Provide encouragement and guide learning
Consider providing effective, actionable feedback immediately when students are learning a task or behaviour. This can be gradually reduced as they become more independent.
Provide a quiet area
Consider providing a quiet area that a student can go if required. This space could include items that may support a student to self-regulate their emotions and/or behaviour. 
Express positive regard and support
Providing support and encouragement helps a student achieve better results. Focus on a student’s strengths and show them that they are valued and supported.
Facilitate student voice, autonomy and independence
Opportunity to express their preferences, opinions and emotions, make choices, and direct their own learning, is important for all students.
Set clear classroom expectations
A few short and simple expectations that guide students what to do (rather than what to avoid), and are displayed and reviewed regularly are best.

How can you promote peer interaction?

Provide lots of opportunities for students to engage in collaborative learning
Students get to know each other and build friendships through working together and watching others. Consider ways in which you can facilitate a student’s interactions with others in a group.
Aim for students to remain with the group
Where possible, aim to keep students as part of the group, rather than in separate areas working with specialists, and to be working with similar materials/content as peers (that is tailored to their individual strengths and abilities).
Teach peers how to interact with each other

Teach students how to interact with each other. This may involve teaching peers how to use different styles of communication, or how to include another student. Access our peer inclusion pages and peer information sheets. 

Provide developmentally appropriate and discreet support

Students may feel self-conscious about the support that is provided, particularly as they enter pre-adolescence (from about ten years of age). Developmentally appropriate and discrete support that builds a student's independence may increase confidence and support peer interactions. 

For example, supports that are available to all students, are embedded in technology, or use a similar layout and visuals to other materials used in class, are less likely to draw attention to a specific student.

How can I collaborate with others?

Work with parents or carers
Set up a system for regular communication with parents or carers about their child’s unique strengths, preferences, and abilities. 
This includes support they feel their child needs and the preferred mode of communication. Access our parent-teacher communication guide and our strengths and abilities communication checklist.

Build a relationship with the learning and support team and all key stakeholders

There may be various health professionals involved in supporting the student. This may include Aboriginal Medical Services (AMS) for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students. 

Working together can lead to a shared understanding of the student, their goals, and strengths-based strategies that are consistent across other environments like home and the community. 

This is particularly relevant when developing a personalised learning and support plan for a student.

Set joint learning outcomes and goals

Work collaboratively with the student’s parents as well as any key stakeholders to set some SMART goals. Aim to set outcomes that focus on the student’s strengths and are challenging enough to support learning and social development.

How can you tailor activities to be as inclusive as possible?

Keep activities and instructions short, clear and engaging
This can help students focus and learn. Frequent breaks may also help.
Consider how tasks can be tailored to different student goals, strengths, abilities and learning profiles

Concrete examples, simplified text, visual supports, breaking tasks into smaller components, using a variety of teaching strategies, and providing alternate ways for students to respond are some of the ways this can be achieved.

Add student interests into learning tasks

Link activities to the students’ goals and interests.
Health professionals can help identify environmental adjustments

Working in partnership with families and health professionals (such occupational therapists) can help identify environmental adjustments. For example, students with physical disability may use therapy balls or cushions, or may need materials that cater to varying grip strength, mobility, and hand-eye coordination. 
Computer-assisted instruction (where instructional material is presented on a computer, such as mathematics drill and practice programs) can also be helpful for some students.
Engage the senses

Provide instructions verbally and visually, demonstrate how to engage in a behaviour or activity, and engage students using developmentally appropriate kinaesthetic learning activities. 
Kinaesthetic learning activities are tactile, hands-on learning activities such as building a model of a plant cell, or tracing letters in sand.
Provide additional time
Provide students with the time they need to respond or engage in an activity.
Gain and maintain a student’s attention

Check that you have the student’s attention when giving instructions, and check for understanding of instructions. Instructions provided in multiple formats (such as verbal and visual instructions) are best. 
Reduce distractions through careful arrangement of the classroom and consideration of seating. Other distractions may include glare, flickering lights, or noise.

How might you create opportunities for repetition and revision?

Students may need ongoing revision to increase long term attainment of the skill
Time to practise in different settings and with different materials can help students to generalise that skill across learning environments in other situations and places.
Provide help and support when a task is new
When a task is new, students usually learn best with support (such as prompts, demonstrations, or encouragement). Supports can be gradually reduced as students become more confident and independent. 
Support can be provided by teachers, School Learning Support Officer (SLSO), Aboriginal SLSO, Aboriginal Education Officer (AEO), or other students. 

How might you support social, emotional and problem solving skill development?

Prompt social behaviours
Provide opportunities for  students to develop social behaviours. These could include turn taking activities, or teaching students how to ask a peer to play or to wait their turn. Access our school story - waiting my turn.
Understand behaviour

Identifying what a student is trying to communicate through their behaviour can provide opportunities to guide the student in alternative ways they can make their needs and wants known. 
Teach problem solving skills
Teach students how to find solutions to challenges they face, including when and how to seek help. Encourage students to view mistakes, problems, or challenges as an opportunity to learn.
Support students to manage and self-regulate their emotions
Express empathy, and help students to name what they are feeling. This can be supported with visuals when necessary. Support them with facing fears gradually, at a level they can manage. 
Provide opportunities for students to use the tools or strategies that best support them with regulation, such as allowing all students to access noise-cancelling headphones at appropriate times. 
Calm down strategies can support students to self-regulate their emotions and behaviour. Access our relaxation breathing script and emotions cards. 
Teach organisation skills
Students may need explicit instructions and support to learn organisation, study, note-taking, time-management, and homework management skills. 

School Excellence Framework alignment

Wellbeing, Effective classroom practice

Australian Professional Standards for Teachers alignment

Standard 1: Know students and how they learn


School leaders and primary teachers


This guide features evidence-based inclusion strategies for teachers to consider in their daily practice.


November 2021. Share your feedback here