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How to Include a Special Education Teacher

As I sit in my 4th year of school meetings, district collaborations, and general education conferences, I had that thought cross my mind that all special education teachers happen upon, “why do I have to be at these meetings?!?!” It’s funny to me how we special education teachers can fight so hard on inclusion for our students and then dread the extra meetings we sit through that don’t seem to have anything to do with us.

Small Vent Sesh: My most recent staff meeting we discussed test scores for English language learners (ELL). Honestly, I don’t usually listen. My students are in a moderate-severe Special Day Classroom and unfortunately even with modifications, they are unresponsive to the testing. As our (truly wonderful) principal is going over the low test scores, I all of a sudden questioned if my students are included in the overall test score even though they were “unresponsive.” And guess what?? They are. They’re easily included in test scores that don’t accurately assess what they are capable of doing yet inclusive settings and more support is impossible to get. I am not writing this to put blame on anyone.. because I don’t know who is in charge of what in that magical place called District Office.. but damn.

But it’s only a problem if there is no solution. So, I have been trying to brainstorm how meetings could feel more beneficial for me. I do think part of it falls on the leader of the meeting and that they should add a small reasoning on why this news is beneficial for everyone. I don’t think anyone should have to sit in an hour long meeting when nothing is beneficial for them. However, I do also think that me as the educator need to figure out how to make myself included in these meetings.

Why would another pilot curriculum for 3rd graders when my students are 1st graders be useful for me? How are test scores for general education students beneficial for me? What can I take away from each meeting that can at least be a tiny bit useful for me?

Bottom line, we have been trained our whole lives to learn things that aren’t extremely useful to us (yeah I am looking at you calculus) so we should be able to teach ourselves again how to find the useful information instead of complain. Why do I try so hard to get inclusion to work for my students? The same reason I have to for these meetings, to be a part of the community. Which makes inclusion, inclusion.

Inclusion Starts Now

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