Ok, so lets get down to business.
For many people who are not familiar with students with disabilities (or different abilities), inclusion can seem scary, impossible, and not affective for anyone. However, from experience, it is only scary.. at times.. mostly in the beginning.
First, lets discuss the positives about inclusion.
You are giving every student the opportunity to be a part of their own community (and isn’t that what we all want?!).
You are teaching all students that everyone is different. Some of us have different skin colors, cultural backgrounds, and ways of learning.
You are showing your students how to care for one another, especially when someone may be struggling.
You are (possibly) gaining another aide in the classroom (um helloooo small reading group in the back!)
You are uniting students in such a powerful way! You will see how helpful all students can be towards each other, how smart everyone is in their own way, and the friendships that truly blossom.
This is how ANYONE can accomplish inclusion.
If you are a Special Education teacher:
-Start by forming real relationships with your coworkers. You have to build trust before you throw a student in a new classroom with ticks this teacher has never seen before (self-stimulation looks different on many).
-Once you have built a relationship (seriously always eat lunch in the staff room), start by doing a small amount (10-20 minutes a day) of mainstreaming (send an aide/or you if possible).
BUT MAINSTREAMING MAY BE CHALLENGING FOR SOME STUDENTS #story time
I have a student who is a screamer. Sometimes it’s because he is frustrated, sometimes because he is happy, and sometimes just because. Sporadic screaming is something this student does in and out of the classroom. The first few weeks of mainstreaming was difficult, he was uncomfortable and would scream and other students would turn around, laugh, and become distracted. But eventually the students forget about the screaming and don’t get distracted anymore. A month or so later as I was bringing this student back from the bathroom, he ran down the hall screaming through a group of students and they all greeted my student with friendly hello’s. These students in general education classrooms benefit from inclusion/mainstreaming just as much as the students in the special day classrooms. Which brings me to…
If you are a General Education teacher:
-Be open to the idea.
-Use your Special Education teachers! When my coworkers are having a challenging day with a student, they send them over to me and they get to help my students with whatever task we are doing. My students love seeing their friends and these peers (who do seem to be academically lower.. hence the behavior issues), get to help someone else academically! It truly is a win win.
Bottom line: Start talking to your Special Ed teachers and to your General Ed teachers and use each other. We need to be a team first before we encourage our students to be a team.
I know this is a very summarized version.. but I can talk about inclusion literally forever.. more stories and information to come!