Disability Awareness and Peer Buddies

An important part of making inclusion work is having buy-in from all stakeholders in the school.  Teachers, admin and support staff are all key players, but we often overlook the most critical piece… the students!  One of the coolest things about inclusion is that it doesn’t just benefit students with disabilities.  It helps develop understanding and empathy in all children.  Children are curious beings.  If we don’t indulge their curiosities about students who are “different” then bullying or other undesirable behavior towards our students could manifest. Continue reading

Inclusion: Fasten Your Safety Belts

One of my greatest strengths as a teacher is my ability to constantly reflect on my practice.   One topic that I consistently reflect on is inclusion.  This is because I am in the unique position of teaching students with severe disabilities in an inclusion school.  Last year was my first year teaching this position (the first year it ever existed at my school) and there was very few moments through the year in which I felt like I knew I was doing the right things for my students.  The school year felt like I was on a roller coaster ride.  The kind of roller coaster that you want to go on just to say you did it and the whole ride you are thinking “What the #$%! was I thinking!”, but then the ride stops and you say “WOO HOO Let’s do it again!”

Rollercoaster_5
Help! I’m making this up as I go!

Inclusion is messy.  It’s HARD, I mean it is really really hard.  Including students with disabilities doesn’t just happen by plopping them into a general education classroom and attaching an aid to them.  (I spent some time as a 1:1 aid in this setting, and I can tell you inclusion it was not.)  There were many days that I wished I just had my own special class that I could run the way I wanted.  Collaborating with teachers, managing meltdowns, keeping up with schedules, facilitating friendships, meetings, meetings, meetings and did I mention schedules?  All that said, I love my job and I love inclusion and I wouldn’t have it any other way.  This year I hope to reflect on my inclusive practices and share them for others who are on the same roller coster that I’m on.  There’s not many of us brave enough to do it. ; )