November 5

Chapter 1-Preparing for Inclusion

This chapter begins with a history of inclusive education from its very beginning, the complete segregation of students to the way things are in current days. Although this is an American history, there was a similar sequence here in British Columbia. In fact, British Columbia was cited as ahead of the game in this book. Yay British Columbians for the forward thinking!

According to Hall, inclusion means “Full membership of an age-appropriate class in your local school doing the same lessons as other pupils and it mattering if you are not there. Plus you have friends who spend time with you outside of school.” (page 6) We all know that every child, regardless of their abilities, are capable of learning and everyone deserves to learn with their peers in the general education classroom, with the appropriate supports. Inclusion requires that everyone, regardless of their abilities, has access to an engaging, rich and supportive educational experience.

 

There are many examples of people with disabilities who have been very successful in their lives. People such as Albert Einstein, Stephen Hawking, Temple Grandin, and, more recently, Zack Anners have all done very well for themselves, and the rest of the world, through their accomplishments, in spite of their disabilities. This just goes to show, once again, that with equitable education, all children can do great things if given the opportunity to shine.

 

There are many benefits to inclusion. Emotional, academic, and social benefits occur for both children with disabilities and their peers. Inclusion allows children with disabilities to feel a sense of belonging, the ability to make and maintain friendships and the ability to increase their academic competence. It also allows children without disabilities to learn empathy, and increase their academic competence, among many other things.

 

“There is only one criterion required for being included: breathing.” (page 9)  Wow! That is powerful! Now, how do we do this effectively? I guess one response would be to continue reading through this book!

 

How does your idea of inclusion fit with the information given in this chapter?


Posted November 5, 2018 by tiebcmembers in category Inclusion in Action

32 thoughts on “Chapter 1-Preparing for Inclusion

  1. Rae

    I haven’t read the chapter yet but Hall’s definition of inclusion is so powerful. It kind of goes beyond what I typically think of inclusion. “It matters if you are not there.” That really got me in the feels. It is so true. If the class misses you when you’re gone then you really do belong.

    Reply
    1. tiebcmembers (Post author)

      So true! That goes for every member of the classroom- students, teacher, EA- if someone is missing, it should matter that you are not there. If you aren’t missed, then are you truly a member of the class?

      Reply
      1. Carla Lowther

        Sadly, I have seen instances where someone is absent from a classroom, or as an educator, from a meeting, and no one seemed to care.

        Reply
  2. Linda

    What a great way to start the conversation! As you mentioned, I too took the quote about “…full membership in an (appropriate) classroom… and it matter(s) if you’re not there” as being the heart of true inclusion! My questions about this book centre on how I, as a grades 10-12 inclusion support educator, can intertwine my support in a higher academic setting.

    I take solace in knowing that ‘appropriate’ education is now emphasized because at the beginning of my journey, I had higher-academics teachers arguing against the placement of ‘my’ students in their classes, saying the students did not have the requisite skills/knowledge. I’m afraid to admit that at times, I did agree with them. I still believe that there comes a point at which all students reach a plateau in ability or aptitude to learn certain skills or knowledge, and with that plateau, comes a loss of interest. Sometimes that plateau is in grade school and sometimes it is post graduation, but we all reach a point beyond which our learning in particular knowledge sets is limited.

    So, why am I rambling on like this? I think that with knowing the student and the student’s interests and talents, appropriate placement is always possible! I will be looking for more ways to support the teachers of “my” students’ placements in classes of their interest and choice!

    Reply
    1. tiebcmembers (Post author)

      As an elementary school teacher, I can only imagine the struggles of getting ‘our’ students fully included into their academic classes when they struggle in different ways. I look forward to hearing how/if this book helps you throughout the book study and whether or not you can take some of the ideas and use them to support the inclusion of your students!

      Reply
      1. LeAnn

        As a Consulting Resource Teacher at a secondary school, it is even more difficult for “our” students to be fully included into classes. I have had to be creative in my discussions with teachers as to how to adapt so my students can be valued members of their classes. For instance, I have a couple of my students attending a Theatre Production class, and they are the chief photographers! Initially the teacher was not sure how to include them, but then we realized that my students are very good at using an iPad, and we came up with the plan of their photographing the process of getting a production up and running. My students understand the importance of their class assignment, and feel proud to be members of this class. This is a great example of Inclusion!

        Reply
        1. Rae

          And by photographing every step of the process, I bet they are learning a great deal about theatre which will likely enrich their conversations and connections with other people in the future. Thanks for sharing!

          Reply
        2. Carla Lowther

          In SD /60, the high school Musical Theatre teachers are VERY inclusive. Students of all ability levels in every aspect are included in the production. Some are actors. Some are persons behind the scenes. It is amazing.

          Reply
  3. Heather

    What struck home the most was how the only requirement for inclusion was “breathing”. I’ve always agreed with this, and have passionately fought for my students to be included. The struggle has always been helping higher-academic teachers to provide a classroom structure and learning that benefits the unique needs of our students.

    Appropriate placement in the “appropriate educational setting in the least restrictive environment” is one that I believe we can achieve in our schools. It will take time, and “buy-in” from many teachers who struggle with having “my” students in their classes.

    I look forward to reading further so that I can work with classroom teachers so that “OUR” students have their needs best met, and have the ability to achieve their best.

    Reply
    1. tiebcmembers (Post author)

      I have some of those “higher academic” teachers who teach with pencil and paper only in my school that also struggle with including and supporting students with unique needs. I continue to struggle to help these teachers accept the differences and change to them rather than trying to make the students change to fit their way of teaching. I too hope that this book will support me with supporting the classroom teachers in my school 🙂

      Reply
    2. Leah Weber

      I was at a pro d that really helped me with this concept. Basically, pick one teacher, the one that is open to inclusion and work with them, give the teacher the skills and supports that they need. Then pick another teacher that is open. Over time, the word will get out that a) including the kids is good for the class b) supports come with the “included” kids that help all of the kids in the class c) the classroom teachers learn new skills that make including the kids less scary and d) teachers like to be experts, some resistance comes from fear of not knowing how to work with or support different learners.

      Reply
  4. Vanessa

    I really enjoyed the section in the book about “beliefs about school”. Eredics says that inclusion is different than buddy program, anti-bully programs, reading programs and that inclusion isn’t just another program to be implemented, it comes down to a fundamental belief that every student should have access to a rich and varied education.
    I oversee the special ed program at our school and I often get asked, “does your school do inclusion?” I like how Eredics says, “We don’t do inclusion. Rather we live inclusion, adopting the attitude the students are fully participating, valued members of the school community in everything we do” (p.7).
    In this chapter, Eredics also describes the difference between Exclusion, Mainstreaming, Integration and Inclusion. As I read the descriptions of these, my first thought is that how often integration is mistaken for inclusion. The example in the chapter was that with integration ‘the teacher includes the child in some lessons, depending on the child’s ability to comprehend the grade-level material. If not, the child works on an alternative program with the paraprofessional, either in or out of the classroom’ (p.8). In the text, it seems like this approach isn’t good enough…I hope that maybe in further chapters or someone else reading this can help explain this to me. Often, many of our students with special needs are in the classroom participating with the rest of the class and if the student can’t do the exact same assignment then the EA will help them with their adapted assignment (usually in the class with the other kids). For example, if the students are doing a spelling test, there are several kids that have an adapted spelling where the words are different or they only are tested on 10 words when the rest of the class does 20. Is this accommodation integration or inclusion ?? In the text, it seems to align with integration but I always thought this was a facet of inclusion because the student with special needs is included with what the class is doing at their level. Thoughts???

    Reply
    1. tiebcmembers (Post author)

      Vanessa, I totally understand your confusion! Integration and Inclusion seem to be intermingled at times-their definitions kind of merging together, although maybe somewhat wrongly. I am sure it will become more clear as we move through the book (hopefully!). I believe that the situation you are describing in which students receive different spelling lists would fall under the umbrella of differentiation of instruction. All of the students are being included in the exact same exercise- they are all getting spelling words, activities and tests, but are working within their level of need. I believe this to be inclusion, but I, too, may be way off base! Does anyone else have any thoughts on this one?

      Reply
      1. Heather

        Vanessa, I used to think that integration and inclusion were the same thing too. Lately, I’ve been delving into inclusion and differentiation more as I’m the school lead for CSL (communicating student learning), I’ve discovered that my belief was kind of correct, but not fully. Inclusion doesn’t necessarily mean differentiation of the assignment in the class, that is more integration…?
        I’ve begun to believe that inclusion means the best educational program as possible within the school community. It doesn’t necessarily mean that the student is integrated into the classroom, it might mean being elsewhere in the community.
        I’ve rambled, my thoughts are jumbled, I’m still trying to figure this out. I’m really hoping we will come to more understanding by the end of this book study. I’m glad I’m not the only one trying to work through this.

        Reply
    2. Carla Lowther

      I am so glad to see that I am not the only one questioning this. In fact, I wrote in my book on pg 7 that Ederics says, “- there is no such thing as an inclusive classroom.” Then why, on page 4 under the Connect section, does she tell us “to observe…an inclusive classroom”? Seems contradictory to me, even though I am sure the author does not intend for this to be the case. I, too, and confused b/w integration and inclusion. I really hope this get clarified as I go through the book.

      Reply
  5. Ann Pimentel

    Thank you all for your rich thoughts and reflections from the book. I’m waiting for my book to arrive so until then I’ll be reading and learning from you all in the meantime.

    Reply
  6. Leah Weber

    I am a cheerleader for inclusion. The first chapter is reinforcing and re-energizing my efforts. I have been a student services teacher (Support teacher/learning coach/testing person/Resource teacher/Behaviour Support/Learning Assistance/ “that woman who tells me to teach kids that I have never taught before”/ etc) for 9 years in BC and Alberta.

    I recently attended some Professional Development with Shelley Moore and I really like her thoughts on shifting the mindset from “trying to get everyone to be green” https://blogsomemoore.com/ to “lets try to get everyone to be a brighter version of themselves”. the book refers to this concept on page 8, fig 1.3.

    I look forward to reading the rest of the book.

    Reply
    1. tiebcmembers (Post author)

      Shelley Moore is a great advocate for inclusion! I love how she says that inclusion looks different for everyone and that it may just be appropriate for one child to be included meaningfully in one class and continue from there. Now to get the teachers on board 🙂

      Reply
  7. Rae

    Finally getting a chance to start reading the book! (My district has a Fall Break so guess what I’m going to be doing instead of going on a vacation like some of my colleagues!).

    I didn’t even get to the end of the 1st page of the introduction when I read the quote about “no studies conducted since the late 1970s have shown an academic advantage for students with intellectual and other developmental disabilities educated in separate settings” and I thought, “STOP RIGHT THERE” and then the following bit from Meatloaf’s Paradise by the Dashboard Light” popped into my head…

    Stop right there
    I gotta know right now
    Before we go any further
    Do you love me?
    Will you love me forever?
    Do you need me?
    Will you never leave me?
    Will you make me so happy for the rest of my life?

    Now I know he wasn’t singing about inclusion but if you read his words, isn’t that what we all, including students with disabilities, want… to be loved and to know that we aren’t going to be abandoned… to know that we have a right to be happy like everyone else?

    And if the research is so clear that segregation does not provide an academic advantage… why are we still having to fight for the right of our students to be included??? STOP RIGHT THERE…

    Reply
    1. tiebcmembers (Post author)

      I can’t seem to insert an image, but Kristin has a visual entitled “Inclusion ABC’s”. You can find the visual here: http://northstarpaths.com/ I have sent Kristin an email about the possibility of creating something of this sort though! Can’t wait to hear her reply 🙂

      Reply
  8. Debra Swain

    I have been thinking about how the lack of resources, human and other, impacts inclusion in schools. In the introduction Eredics states “Staff training,accessible spaces, appropriate learning materials, and a responsive curriculum are all essential elements of inclusive education.”. When our plans for students are derailed because we do not have Education assistants or specialist teachers, inclusive education suffers. Providing equity of opportunity for all learners means that resources are not a luxury, they are required.
    I found lots of “food for thought” in chapter 1 and the references are helpful.

    Reply
    1. tiebcmembers (Post author)

      I fully agree! I noticed that as well and thought about the funding. We need a government who realizes the power of equitable education and funds it accordingly!

      Reply
    2. Carla Lowther

      I am so happy to read this, Debra. I continually question how teachers with 30 students in their classes are supposed to be able to provide an inclusive classroom when there is a HUGE “lack of resources, human and other” in so many of our classrooms. Teachers are burning out because of this. AAGGHH!

      Reply
  9. LeAnn

    In this first chapter, I completely agree with the value of belonging and inclusivity, particularly for the emotional, social, and academic benefits of all learners. As stated in the study by Jones, Greenberg & Crowley, “ it reinforces that students of all abilities should be interacting with one another and should be given opportunities to build relationships with peers.” This is of utmost importance to all students in our school community so there is reciprocal learning occurring. If we do not know how to interact with ALL individuals, then we are not managing to be good and responsible citizens. Teachers and support staff need to encourage all students to communicate fully with one another, practice and reinforce prosocial skills on an ongoing basis. We need to learn from one another, and in an inclusive classroom, everyone benefits.

    Reply
    1. Rae

      I totally agree. If we want our world to be a place where everyone is included and valued, we have to start now… not after graduation.

      Reply
  10. Ida

    In Chapter 1, the reference to the significance of Prosocial skills (empathy, impulse control & self calming skills) in young children as being markers for future success as adults, really struck me. I am currently supporting in a Kindergarten class which has students with a wide range of skill development in this area. I can see their struggles already as they are trying to navigate their day with varying success. Their teacher and I have been working on these very important skills since the start of the year. The students with a good pro social skill set, are much more successful in academic areas.

    Reply
    1. tiebcmembers (Post author)

      I have noticed that more and more students are coming to my school with weaker prosocial skills which is having a huge impact on our school environment. Due to this, we have place full time support in the primary grades to help the teachers support these behaviours, leaving our intermediate students with very little support for their academic needs. How do we help students gain these prosocial skills before they enter the school system? Many of the students who are lacking in these areas do so simply because of lack of exposure. How can we get these children more exposure before they enter school? There are programs like preschool, strong start, promising babies, and I am sure many more in other areas of the province, but it seems as though many people do not access these programs. I know that I am one of those parents that did not access many of these programs, but that is mainly due to the fact that I am a working mom. My children did go to daycare, allowing them to learn these skills, but there are still many children who do not even attend daycare. I feel like I am rambling now, but I think I got my point across- how can we help this problem before it starts?

      Reply

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